My Megacon Diary

By Carol aka catfish Foss

A brief intro first:

Finally, a chance to actually meet David Hedison. He'd be attending the MegaCon convention in Orlando, Fl. and I live in South Daytona- about a 2 hour drive (more or less depending on traffic, road, and weather conditions. But the fact that I'm a strictly putt putt, stop/go type) meant I had to find alternate transport.

Ah hahh. The Daytona to Orlando Airport shuttle! Problem one solved. That was one hurdle down, one to go...would they, could they (my employers) let me go? I had only just started my new job at our community college when word of David's coming to Orlando became official and it was a few months away...'no problem Carol' they assured me,and I got vacation time to boot!

David and I had been corresponding for about nine years, if memory serves and we planned on a drink together during one of the convention days to have a chance for a quiet talk. Of course, sometimes the fates intervene, scrub the time and place, and this was no exception. However, it actually made our little meeting better than what we could have hoped for...but more of that later...

My Megacon Diary: Thursday 15 Feb. 2007

I pack way too much, but convince myself I really really really need those extra socks, not to mention my noise masker (ocean waves or continual static). I mean, what if my hotel neighbors are party animals, what if the faucet in the bathroom drips? I know the Doubletree is a five star hotel, but still...my hair dryer is a must, theirs looks weird from their website photo. Do I have everything? Money? Credit card? Names, addresses, phone numbers? Emergency info? Can't forget the pictures I want him to sign, not to mention a few surprises for my friends...starting to hyperventilate...what on earth am I going to say when I meet him, let alone when we get together for that drink... I mean, I've always been better with the written word...in person, up close and personal? Yikes, I'm sure to be tongue tied for sure...

And we have lift off; too much influence from being able to see fiery trail of Space Shuttle from the back yard. At least their trips to outer space have to be easier on the backside than this mini van to Orlando. My seat is lopsided and I sure feel those springs, not to mention the vehicle is shimmying and shaking so much I might consider myself fortunate to have an unplanned Swedish Massage.

The lady in back keeps complaining about 'freezing' (it's a comfortable 73) a couple in front of me can't keep their hands off each other...i sigh inwardly. It's going to be a long drive to the Airport...did I remember to tuck away the $50 for the cab that's going to take me to the hotel from there. The 'what if's are starting to pop up like like a bug on the internet. What a wonderful thing stress and anticipation are.

Checking in to the Doubletree Towers Universal. 'What was that Miss Foss?' they ask in response to my question. Uh oh, they're using the spinster aunt title, rightfully mine, but not a good sign surely. 'Complimentary Hotel/Convention Center shuttle schedule? Never heard of it', they say. Oh great. My ire is irked. Normally a bit of a mouse it surprises me by coming to the fore, 'That's the reason I chose this hotel' I complain. They've gone to check with the manager...apologies from the staff, yes there's a shuttle, but the schedule hasn't been posted yet...relief, and embarrassment...I wasn't that bad was I, I wonder, but traveling around Orlando by cab would quickly eat up funds I've earmarked for other things.

I settle into my room, finding it fridge less, so there's another thing to complain about-I don't want to, but I did reserve one and am paying extra for it, and once arrived and plugged in, shove my no-sugar added yogurt I carted along (with freezer thingy's) and some cheese slices. Ahh. Now I can relax a bit...why don't I try that restaurant downstairs? Expensive, and tasteless, (the food) but that's not why I'm here... tomorrow...tomorrow...

Friday, 16 Feb. 2007

D day! (As in David) Since the hotel /convention center shuttle won't depart until 11:00 and I have prepaid tickets waiting for me to collect at 10:30, I call the front desk about 10:15 and ask them to call me a cab. I'll be down in a few minutes.

'Uh, where is it?' I'm asking the bell clerk just outside the entrance, as I sue can't see anything remotely resembling a cab waiting. "Oh, are you Miss Foss?" Yikes, there go the warning bells again. But he escorts and helps me into the waiting car. It's unmarked, black, highly polished...Well, I guess he knows what he's doing...but where's the dangling tag or ticktocking meter?

I feel like what what Edith Nelson must feel like being chauffeured. It turns our this is a limosine service vehicle but the fare is the same as any old cab. The interior is spotless, odorless, and ohhhh sooo comfy after yesterday's travels. It's an enjoyable ride, he's a good driver, and he gets me to the correct drop off point for the hall. There are a zillion of them, it seems. The Orange County Convention Center takes up as much room as some malls. By now I'm in a better mood espescially after room service conveniently forgot the breakfast I'd ordered the night before.

Getting the prepaids is faster than I imagined but I give up hanging around in the line for when they open the MegaCon room, and head to the food court, hoping the changing time factor won't scrub my secret mission.

"Carol?" I hear my name being called...ahhh hah, two of my unknowing victims, Sue and Kim. We're known to each other by email and the Seaview and Sub Pen lists, but have never met. We quickly find ourselves fast friends in person as well as via the computer. We're already having a great time when we notice the time...and join the herd headed towards the doors.

We snake through the pathways toward the 'signer's section'. And then we see him. He and John Kachmar are setting up things. I can't see Diane, even though I only know her from previous convention photos I've seen. Can we approach David yet? Nobody else waiting...taking a breath, I take the plunge and head toward his table.

"Hello David. I'm Carol Foss."

He greets me with a huge grin and extends his hand warmly."I Finally have a chance to see what you look like!" Then he begins to speak of all the our previous correspondence.

"Are we still on for that drink?" I ask, almost holding my breath, another 'what if' he's forgotten his invite in the back of my mind.

"We sure are, how about 6:15 in the bar?"(we're staying at the same place)

"That's great...Can I ask you to sign these?" I hand him my secret mission extras and a screen capture to sign, making sure nobody can really see what they are him."What do I owe you?" I ask.(one pays for celebrity signatures at these things)

"For you, nothing," he says firmly and oh so warmly. I hand him the abbreviated family tree excerpt I've been researching with some of the members of his extended family, then wave Sue over for her turn, who's been patiently standing aside, not wanting to intrude on us. She presents him with an utterly fabulous tile photo she's made...pictures taken, conversation with him, then Kim gets her chance, soon more people are starting to gather, so we three all back off a little more, and meet Diane.

We giggle like school girls and look forward to the little get together we're planning in my place later that night. (I have the Voyage disks straight off the British Fox channel a friend gave me) Getting a bit light-headed ,and not due to blood sugar levels I'm sure, I think now's a good time for a bite and head to the food court (and a chair).

Joined by Sue and Kim shortly later we have some lunch and time passes very quickly before the 2:00 time we planned to meet fellow listee Robert at the Anime pagoda, and thence as a group to present David the Certificate of Appreciation I've put together with signatures from the Seaview List at Yahoo Groups.

David's line's not long and soon we gather. I tell Diane, well, okay, I practically order her "front and center" and David too. Whew, managed to keep it a secret after all! We give her a certificate of appreciation for being a trailblazing author and webmaster. Then it's Sue and Kim's turn. Hee hee, hee, they're all so surprised.

"Now your turn David," I say, and read him his as well before presenting it to him. Pictures, some more chatting, then I back off, hand appropriate funds to John of the screen captures and contrived pictures I want David to sign before he can refuse payment. He especially likes the 18th century sea captain I contrived and put in the 'Attic Album'.

Signed items in hand I depart, but not before he takes me aside to tell me our 6:15 has to be changed due to a call from Bridget. Will I mind having our quiet talk here, in the 'green room' (behind the red curtain-an escape for the stars to get away, have tea etc. ) about 4? Of course, I agree, no problem...and he knows I'm not a drinker so tea sounds reallly nice (Diane must have told him). Headed back to the food court I've already forgotten half of what I've planned to ask him. So when the girls join me I get some additional ideas from them.

In no time at all it's time for that one-on-one. Geesh, I have the flutters. He leads the way, parts the curtain a few steps away, and prepares me that hot cup of tea himself! I'm surprised I don't fall down in a faint, he's so close sitting down next to me. It's very very hard not to stare at him. We start talking 'shop' right away, some of the mysteries, events, and history of his genealogy. Then he laughs, 'you know more about my family than I do!' As we chat and I try to remember (impossible) some of the quesitons I'd wanted to ask him, I rely on the quick notes the girls and I made.

He says he made the black onyx ring we see in so much of his film history himself when he was 16. (His father had sent him to artisan classes to learn the family trade) I find out he's met Voyage fan President Johnson, recieved several celebrity responses to his letters including Bette Davis.His mother attended his first New York play, while his father had to remain at home to take care of business. No, he didn't get to attend Roger Moore's knighting. And he'd kept his impending marriage to Bridget a bit of a secret, even from Richard Basehart, but called him just after. (I remember the news back then, it was a bit of a shock to everyone at the time in the magazines/papers) 'Of course', he says, I can post a particular photo he'll dig out for me 'if I can find it,' he laughs, admitting as a bachelor he threw out everything,even that esteemed Davis letter, but now, married, he's not allowed to throw anything away without her say so. A few more minutes of friendly chatter, and I think maybe it's a good time to let him get back to work. And he gives me a kiss on the forehead in parting. (I'll never wash it off!) When I rejoin the girls, I'm told I look like I'm 'floating on air'. Damn right.

Sue's the first to arrive at my room, with a surprise of peel and eat shrimp. Beats the bagged cheddar popcorn, as my room (nor the hotel) hasn't a microwave. Soon Kim, Lin, and Diane join us. We have a great time watching the dvd's, making all sorts of comments, some of them ribald and rather...'appreciative' of our guy's attributes. Diane tells us David has asked about the 'hen party'...good thing he doesn't know just what kind of hen-pecking he and his shipmates are going through at our hands!

We're having such a good time, I wonder if the management will knock on the door to wonder what's so funny...we're a bit loud. All too soon it's after midnight, and it's time to turn off Kim's dvd player...and let it recover from overuse and constant pausing, rewinding,a real test of endurance.

Sat. 17 Feb. 2007

This time I take the shuttle..it's late but who cares...until that is, I find that the crowd is so thick I feel like a sardine in a school of whales. I'm on the short side so it's stifling,claustraphobic even.

Finally after what feels like 10 minutes (yesterday it took less than one) I get to David's. He smiles, and when there's a lull, we chat a little more and I tell him this has been the highlight of my life. Truer words have never been spoken.

The atmosphere has taken it's toll on me,however,and the crowd is getting to me, though they'e not pressed badly at David or his neighbor's areas. I'm getting dizzy, so I head to the food court. No place to sit. Crowds..squished...I have to get out of here...maybe tomorrow will be better.

The girls and I have another party, just as much fun, but Eleven Days to Zero is paused for much of it's airing as we gab and talk shop,(all about writing and webstuff and just plain gossip) We wish Casey,another Voyage friend we've met here, could have stayed for the party but she was pressed for time. Past 1 a.m. by the time we agree it's time to get some zzz's.

Sunday 18 Feb 2007

Woke up after a restless night, my throat had been tickling, but this morning, I'm convinced it's not from gabbing. What's worse, it wants to make me cough...damn.

I decide I'd rather be more of a friend than a fan and no way am I going to infect David with a bug especiallly so close to the play he's going to be doing next week. So I make my plans, write a note, and ask Diane down to pick it up to give to him.(The Kachmars and David have rooms in the same Doubletree as me)

I'm really sad. I wanted those goodbye kisses on both cheeks Sue told us about before she had to go hoome. Oh well...at least I had my little one on the forehead and of course that wonderful oneľon-one chat.

Soon I'm on my way home, and the shuttle gets stuck in traffic, with the long stretches of road construction and the trail of vehicles headed for the Daytona 500. But we make reasonable time considering. I can't help wondering that right now my friends are chatting with David, the herds having thinned out for Sunday. And I wonder if or when we'll meet again. The girls, David and I.

But one thing is for sure. This has been an experience I will treasure in my heart for all time. I think we all will. I'm so glad that our expectations of each other; friends and a certain gentleman; have been surpassed by anything we expected.

MEGAGON 2007
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Megacon 2007 Opening Day. Friday 16 Feb. And I thought this crowd was bad! Tomorrow it will be wall to wall people!

Meeting Kim Q and Sue Kite at long last!
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'Catfish', 'Bookscape', and 'Ladykirin' with David

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Presenting Diane, Sue, and Kim Certificate's of Excellence. Followed by a special presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation to David on behalf of all fans, especially those on the Seaview List at Yahoo Groups.

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Happy Voyaging!
David Hedison and Carol aka 'Catfish' Foss

The photos displayed have been pooled together from Diane, Sue, Kim, and myself.

Diane Kachmar's convention report

Kim Q's convention report

Addendum: Here's a little sampling of of some of the fun...

This is one of my favorite screen captures

Contrived painting from Attic Album

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Has a sense of humor, doesn't he?

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Ahh, those eyes! The next was actually taken by David's bride, Bridget.