It's really been difficult knowing I can't travel across country to miniature conventions any more. I really miss the camaraderie with old and new friends, the excitement of sales rooms, the fun of workshops, the opporunity to explore new cities and regions. But, as the kids say these days, it is what it is.
So, when my friend Elena told me that there was an Alice in Wonderland Convention here in town at a local hotel, my attention was piqued. "Wanna, I was there yesterday. One of the workshops was Semantics and Bad Jokes, and and I thought of you! I mean, since you and Robert have the market cornered in that area, heh heh." She hurried on. "Although not miniatures per se, I figured there woiuld likely be an opportunity for you to find something that you could use."
Well, Elena was right; the combination of semantics and bad jokes and the possibility of adding something interesting to my stash was just too much to resist, especially since I have been an Alice in Wonderland fan since my chldhood book with the Tenniel illustrations.
So, I called to see if I might get in on the last day, and luckily I could, so off I hurried to Look Alike Day at The Alice Convention.
I must've looked somewhat confused as I approached the hotel's Reception desk because it seemed that I looked absolutely nothing like anyone around me. However, the nice young woman behind the counter reasssured me. "Don't worry, ma'am; everybody is welcome. It's just that this is the Look Alike Contest Day, but soon you will fit right in, " she said, smiling slightly as she glanced at my short plump white haired self. Well, I was doubtful, because even when I was young one could hardly say I looked like Alice, and heaven knows those days of my long black curls are long gone. But I was there for a good time so I thanked her and folllowed her instructions to go right around the next corner and down the hallway.
The hotel's long corridor seemed to stretch on forever like so many at my miniatures conventions, and before I got to the end I was wishing that I had rented a scooter like I did the last time I was at the Chicago International. Finally, just as I thought I would collapse in a heap on the floor I reached the Sign-In table, where I was greeted by a fellow with long twitching ears. Looking at a pocket watch, he exclaimed. "You're late! You're late! But welcome! And your name is ...?"
"Wanna," I said, intrigued by the twitching of those long ears as he pawed through a box of badges.
"Wanna, ... Wanna ... Here you go! Pin that on right now; you will need it." Then he reached behind the table and got my totebag and gestured to a sign on the table. "Here is a list of the theme luncheons, but you register for those once you have entered the Convention. And be sure and sign up for the guided tours; otherwise, you''ll be hopelessly lost because you can't trust the signs. "
He gestured to the tray on the table and smiled a big toothy rodent grin. "Drink up, and GO ON DOWN!"
"'Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting! Tsk! Tsk!" he tutted. "Six more haven't shown up, and I am late, late, late! Well, they can make their own way in," and before I could ask for further clarification, he had scurried away, still muttering and looking at his watch.
"Well, here goes," I thought, as I poured a glassful and drank. And then I felt myself spinning wildly and sort of blacking out momentarily. I had a wild thought that this was like Harry Potter and his friends going up and down those chimneys with their Flue Powder!
Lordy mercy, as my grandmother in Oklahoma used to say. What an eerie ride THAT was! Next thing I knew I tumbled out of some mysterious hole and landed under a strange knobby tree. I lay there on the ground, stunned for a bit and somewhat dizzy, right behind an Alice Look Alike.
I could have sworn I saw some kind of winged something that kept fading in and out from the treetop. Good golly, is that a Jabberwock, I wondered? But before I could do anything further I found myself staring into the face of a female chess person leaning over me. (She seemed to be fading in and out, too.)
"Croquet?" she asked. "I asssume you are here to play?" As I shook my head no, she frowned and gestured.
"Well, you better go off THAT WAY before I get really cross and call somebody to deal with you!"
I stumbled to my feet and as I brushed the dirt off my skirt, I discovered that it was now blue and I was wearing a white pinafore like everybody else! Well, I guess it's part of my Convention package, I thought, and then I looked around.
Some pretty good sized mushrooms and sunflowers were growing in that place! I wasn't actually too surprised, however, because we get lots of big sunflowers in the red sand hills and even though El Paso is high desert country, during our rainest periods we often see mushrooms growing in our lawn.
(Well, not as big as THESE, of course.)
There were Alice Look Alikes everywhere!
And that rabbit at the sign-in table was right. Things were a bit confusing; first a sign pointing one way, then one saying the exact opposite.
I turned, almost stumbling over a large red mushroom and all those Alices, and that's when I heard a voice calling, "Sign up for Tours!"
At that moment a ray of sunlight broke through and I saw a table with another rabbit, his ears twitching as he gestured for me to come over.
"Just sign here," the rabbit said, pointing to the sheet on the table.
"Where do we go on these tours?" I asked as I took the pen. "Well," he replied, "As the King said, you begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop. Surely someone as old as you can figure out what to do."
I shook my head. "Um, well, this is my first Alice Convention, so I don't know about any of this."
He raised his eyebrows. "Well, Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of arithmetic--Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision."
He shrugged. "Just start with Stop One and keep counting. And when you are ready to leave you come back here and eat one of these." He pointed to the tray of plump mushrooms on the table with the To Exit, Eat Me sign.
I blinked a moment and looked around hesitantly, trying to figure it all out. As he didn't seem interested in elaborating further, I started off in what seemed like the beginning.
Apparently, Stop One on the tour was looking through a telescope for jubjub birds. I tried to recall if I had ever read a description of one, but all I remembered from my childhood storybook was that one should beware of it and that it was
"desperate" and "lives in perpetual passion." Not that easy to spot; probably a good thing.
Stop Two was Croquet, and although I purchased a flamingo I decided since I hadn't played in years that I would leave the competition to those who knew what they were doing. I really wanted that Semantics and Bad Jokes workshop but apparently it wasn't being repeated that day.
I started off for Stop Three, but was confronted by another rabbit officiously pointing out that I was going the Wrong Way!
This place just gets curiouser and curiouser, I thought. After wandering around for a good spell meeting up with lots of weird and weirder characters, including walruses and card people and I don't know what all, I decided I needed a cup of tea!
At that point, I heard a voice from somewhere down below. "Down here! Down here!" So I followed the path.
"Sign up here for theme luncheons!" A big headed fellow with a large hat was sitting next to a small dormouse, who kept hiding behind a purple teapot.
The Hatter looked up at me. "What a regrettably large head you have. I would very much like to hat it. I used to hat The White Queen, you know. Her head was so small."
"Well, actually I have lots of hats already," I replied, "since I have a problem with sun and heat. But thank you anyway."
He reeled off the luncheon choices:
1) Jabberwocks, Loch Ness Monsters and Abominable Snow Men: Reality or Fiction?
2) Make Your Own Red Queen Crown and Sceptre, and
3) Tea Sampling.
I would really have liked to take all three, but since that wasn't possible I decided I would sign up for the Tea Sampling, as at that point my head was already spinning with confusion and hunger.
As he tried to read my signature upside down, the Hatter said, "The last uhm, the last time a girl called Alice came here from your world she brought down the whole House of Cards. Oh yeah. Made quite an impression. Although, it was 150 years ago. It can't be the same girl. Oysters don't even live that long. And here we are confronted with a whole room full of them!"
"Well, my name isn't Alice; it's Wanna, and I have never been here before. Although I must say sometimes I do believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." I stood up. "And now where do I go for the luncheon?"
"Up there. Up above the world you fly, like a tea tray in the sky." As I started up the ladder, he called, "Warning. Don't take it on an empty stomach and only one tiny little drop at a time otherwise the experience might burst your shriveled up little heart. Got it?"
I reached in my pocket for a couple of the peanut butter and cracker packets that I never leave home without, and I must say they had never tasted better. Now that High Tea was a new experience, I must admit!
After my tea, I asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat answered, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don't know,” I answered. "I'm taking a Tour, but I don't know what the next stop is, since nobody seems able to guide me."
“Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here. But tell you what, ask Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee over there; maybe they can help you. Or maybe they can't. ”
I walked over to the twins who were holding a sign beside a tall mirror framed in bright blue and pink; rather intimidating fellows, really. Frowning, they looked me up and down. "You don't look too much like Alice," they said in unison.
"Well, of course not," I replied. "I'm much too old." I looked down at my skirt. "I was wearing my denim patio dress but somehow when I drank that potion and tumbled down the rabbit hole I wound up in this blue dress and pinafore."
"Nevertheless, you are here. So you should go Through the Looking Glass and enter the contest anyway," said Tweedle Dum.
"Yes! What he said!" agreed Tweedle Dee.
And before I knew it, they had nudged me through the mirror where I found myself at the end of a long line of Alices. Somebody was hollering "Off With Her Head!" over and over, and when I realized the judge for the Look Alike contest was the Red Queen who had greeted me when I tumbled in, I decided the prudent thing to do was to quickly exit back through the Looking Glass.
I made sure that Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were occupied with the next unfortunate Alice Look Alike and then I tiptoed past to find my way back to the table with the Eat Me mushrooms.
Past all the other Alices ...
... back to the beginning of the Tour ...
.. and toward the table with the To Exit, Eat Me mushrooms. Yep; a whole lot of mushrooms around there ...
"Well, I see by the wild look in your eye and your mussed up hair that you had all you can take," the March Hare said. He pointed to the small tray of mushrooms. "There you go, Wanna. Eat one and you can Exit now! Oh, and you can have one of these red rose lollipops as a souvenir, too!" he added.
I tucked a lollipop into my totebag and as I reached for a mushroom, another new Alice came tumbling out of the rabbit hole to be greeted by The Red Queen again. Boy, that Queen gets around in a hurry, I thought, and as I took a bite the Jabberwock began fading back in from his tree. Whew! I got out of there not a minute too soon!
Another whirling sensation and a sound in my ears like rushing water and the next thing I knew I was in the hotel corridor again, back to my full size and in my denim patio dress once again.
The only evidence I have to show for my extraordinary day at The Alice Convention is my badge, a large spiral rose lollipop and a flamingo in my totebag. I can't believe I forgot to take my camera! And since Elena wasn't home when I called, I just had to tell SOMEBODY about it!