This conference is meant to be about books but it’s just a cover for promoting world peace. Everyone here is over 60 – this seems to be a recurring theme in my travels – and they’re all super philanthropic. I feel guilty now that I don’t run a soup kitchen or volunteer at an aged care home or have a foster child. And they’re very generous with
their praise too. The meals have been almost supernaturally bad, but all I can
hear are murmurs of praise mid-meal and sighs of contentment afterwards. Then, on
the first night, we had a choir from Fresno primary come in to sing three songs
for us. They were awful – these kids clearly hadn’t practiced at all – but the
guy that spoke after them was all choked up and said that it was magical and that
children are the future. Hopefully not these ones.
I’ve had a few opportunities to shop in between sessions, but I’ve just found it too exhausting. In the US, you look at a product and a salesperson will
materialise. One minute they’re on the opposite side of the room and you think
you’re safe – you’re never safe – and then they’re at your side, or behind you,
or they’ve already started gift-wrapping whatever you were looking at. They’re
like terriers – you can’t shake them off, and even if you do, they’ll just
redouble their efforts five minutes later. One lady asked me if I needed help
five times in ten minutes.
I heard that if you want to see ‘eccentric’ people, you should go to Venice Beach, but I reckon they’re fairly well spread out across the US. I would have written about it if I’d been more conscientious, but when I caught a taxi from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington back to the hostel, my driver said that he worked for the FBI – unlikely since he’d just blown his cover – and then segued into black oppression and said that he had gone to a special university to get trained, but that that meant he couldn’t take any of the senators wives from them. What. I had my hand on the handle cos I had a
sudden panicky feeling that we weren’t heading back in the direction of the
hostel. We were – when I got out, he said ‘Let’s keep in touch on Facebook’.
Then today, I was walking home from the conference, and I saw a lady with a huge foam cheese hat on. I stopped to ask for directions, even though my hotel was literally across the road and had Marriot in huge red lights, but I really had to see this hat up
close. It was either Jarlsberg or the moths had got to it, but I didn’t want to
stare directly because she looked like she could snap at any moment.
San Francisco here I come!!
Ps. There’s a book of Mormon in my bedside table along with a Gideon’s bible. That’s new.