Gen Con, or My Day Among the Great Unwashed

Fly, I had an acquaintance in my college dorm who had a profound distaste for regular showering. After a two-week stint where no water or soap touched his body, at the pathetic pleas of his roommate, we ended up stripping him to his boxers and physically throwing him into the shower. Thank God I didn’t live right next door to him – if I had to put up with that on a daily basis, I couldn’t have been responsible for the consequences. No jury would convict me. :slight_smile:

“It’s not a toothbrush, It’s a Wand of Immaculate Bicuspid. When equipped, you get +2 Charisma!”

Krunk, you will perhaps be relieved to hear that gamers/Gamers are not the only people exposed to these guys.

The place: UPenn

The date: weekend before “spring” term started at Mason.

The event: PennBowl Nein

The people: 64 schools from all around the country

The problem: they were there to play, baby. To Play! To Play AND WIN! And even if they WERE staying a pretty decent hotel, SELECT few of them knew enough to shower before play on the next day.

The sight of 25 unwashed, scraggly-bearded men with poor hygiene and even poorer interpersonal skills* in their thirties playing a game originally designed for college students in their late teens and early twenties was actually (literally) scary. Some of these guys were almost as old as my father.

*Yeah, I know interpersonal skills isn’t that much to complain about, but what few females (I understand their absence . . . I really do) we had there were getting hit on by multiple unwashed and uncaring and it wasn’t pretty. I myself managed to rescue one by talking about suicide and cutting, but I fear for the others . . .

Having worked on a planning committee for a small con, I have to chime in. We actually discussed putting an ad in the schedule mentioning that bathing was a good thing. I think we did it one year. Seems I remember it just pissed the offenders off and the committee chairman had to have extended conversations with people who hadn’t brushed their teeth for days. I think that ended it.
Ours might have been worse than some others since there was more than gaming and some people just crashed in the all night movie room instead of getting their own room with a bathroom.
Also, people do tend to get over heated in those crowded rooms while playing. They may have smelled fine in the morning, but by dinner time…
But then that’s not the excuse for all of them. I gave another committee member a ride home from a planning meeting and my car smelled like crap (literally) for days after that 20 minute ride. Eeewwww!

Nonsequitur said::
Seems I remember [the ad] just pissed the offenders off and the committee chairman had to have extended conversations with people who hadn’t brushed their teeth for days.

Somehow this makes it worse. I always assumed the offenders were just not aware…this makes it sound like they are willfully malordorous.

From the way a lot of folks at the con were interacting, I think they’re just unaware of social concepts like cleanliness and politeness. I know that’s a gross generalization and certainly doesn’t apply to everyone at the con (or all gamers) but it’s the offenders that really stick out in your memory.

The person I felt the sorriest for was the lady (can’t remember her name) who plays Aphrodite on “Hercules” and “Xena”. She was there for an autograph-signing session and I can only imagine the encounters she had with fanboys during the course of the day…

Aphrodite: Hi there! Do you have something for me to sign?
Fanboy <sweating visibly in the presence of an actual female>: Why certainly, please sign my sweaty Gen Con 1986 t-shirt. Try to sign around the holes, please.
Aphrodite: Uh, sure, okay. <pulls out pen>
Fanboy: And can you tell me why, in episode 12E06, Aphrodite clearly displayed the power of transmutation, where it was stated in episode 10A4 that she did NOT have that power in her portfolio?
Aphrodite: Er… uh… I’m sure… that the writers in the show had their reasons, I’m just an actress.
Fanboy <continuing diatribe>: And why was Hercules immune to your charms as the immortal goddess of love and beauty?
Aphrodite: <hiding head in hands> Please kill me.

Lisa: Wait a minute, Xena can’t fly!
Lucy Lawless: How many times do I have to say it? I’M NOT XENA!

I love going to conventions and I am sad to say that it ain’t just gamers-- at least, I’ve seen/smelled this phenomenon at cons where gaming wasn’t happening, or where the stinky parties weren’t involved in it.

I personally have roomed with an extremely smelly guy whose toothbrush… man, how to say this without making myself puke… it was brown. The bristles. And he was still using it, insofar as he brushed his teeth at all. Lest I sound bitchy, considering that this guy used to be a good friend (the reasons he’s not now are not grooming related), he was a cool, fun person in many other ways but YIKES, talk about living up (or down) to stereotypes. He’d actually been confronted about the stench by his girlfriend’s less-than-tactful sister, and was offended. “She says I smell!” Well no kidding, we all thought.

There were also a few guys in the general group we went to cons with, who posed real problems for the people deciding who roomed with who-- it becomes embarrassingly obvious that there’s an issue when most of the rest of the group has explicitly said, “Don’t put me in with X, he stinks.” I think one or two of the kinder members of the bunch did try to address things with these guys but nothing ever came of it. I felt bad for the guys, especially when more tempermental types took over and weren’t so kind about the bathing suggestions, but again, YIKES.

A wizard did it.

There are many people that go to a con every single weekend which contains more than two days. And I’m sure that there are some that go even more often.

For anybody who might be running into me in Atlanta, I bathe every day or two, and I brush my teeth daily. I promise. My interests may be geekish, but I do not reek.

'Course, I’m female. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. My brother practically has to be stripped and thrown into showers – he’s seventeen. He’d fit right in with that crowd.

Oh, Krunk-y, sweetie pie, I’m sorry your senses were assualted so. I must say that I’m shocked to hear that folks are so wrapped up in fantasy that they can’t take the time to wash they asses. Why is it so difficult to wash one’s body? It doesn’t take but a few minutes, and it feels REALLY good, the feel of jets of water as hot as you can stand it streaming over you, relaxing muscles tired from doing whatever the hell it is that Role Players do. You come out of the shower relaxed and ready for the next round. Maybe if these RPG conventions made it a condition that no one who reeks will be admitted, that’ll clear the air. :-0

Damn. Maybe I’ll just stick to my local DunDraCon. People there are only mildly smelly. Of course, my first few years me and my friends slept in the open gaming areas instead of renting a room because we didn’t have the money. Hygiene consisted of wiping yourself with a wet paper towel in the bathroom. The hotel doesn’t let people do that anymore. I’ve acquired better habits since then, except for the staying up all night thing. Hmm, I think I should have gone to bed before sunrise…

I attended Project A-Kon the year before last and there was a stench in the air in that unpleasant to say the least. I have to admit that of all the Star Trek conventions I’ve been to I have not noticed a great amount of stinkyness.


I think the percentage of unwashed masses was actually lower this year than in ones previous. This is either frightening or promising, I suppose–depending on one’s half-empty/half-full outlook.

What I noticed was a larger amount of normal, generally-kempt people, and a remarkable number of young (and apparently well-behaved, I heard a grand total of one crying child over the couple days I was there) kids than were at previous GenCons. My inner monitors suggest an alternate theory that the makeup of the con is pretty much the same, and that I simply notice such things more often than I did in younger and more energetically misanthropic days.