[[Editor’s Note: I wanted more people to see Jo’s story, left in comments, about her Homeric efforts on Hugo day, and got her permission to run it as a front-page post.]]
By Jo Van Ekeren: It all started when I made the mistake of whingeing to Mike Glyer about never getting to go to GRRM’s awesome Hugo Losers Parties.
“Well, you did a big favour for my blog,” he said. “If you want, you can be my +1 and go to the parties, as my way of saying ‘thanks’”.
“What a great idea!” I said. “What could possibly go wrong?” I said.
And we made arrangements to meet on Sunday evening outside the location for the Hugo Finalist pre-party.
So on Sunday morning at the WSFS Business Meeting, I got a phone call saying that Mike had been taken from his hotel to the medical centre and could I go see him. “Sure!” I said. “I’m sure that he’ll be up on his feet shortly, and everything will be just fine!” I said.
So I got to the hospital, where a little creative editorialising led the staff to believe that I might possibly be one of Mike’s errant blood relations who just happened to live on the other side of the world, and was delighted when I got to his room and discovered that he seemed to be back to his usual jovial self.
“I’m so relieved to see that you’re doing well!” I said. “It’s a good thing that you’ll still be able to go to the Hugos tonight!” I said.
“Yeah, uh… about that…” he said.
I gave him The Look.
“They want to keep me in the hospital overnight, just to be sure that I’m okay,” he said. “So I’m going to need you to stand in for me at the Hugos tonight,” he said.
< deep breath >
“Okay,” I said. “I can do that, but I’m going to need you to e-mail me a copy of your speech in case you win,” I said.
“Yeah, uh… about that…” he said.
I gave him The Look again.
“I haven’t exactly written my speech yet,” he admitted.
< another deep breath >
“Okay,” I said. “Tell me what you need me to say if you win.” And he proceeded to toss out his thoughts for an acceptance speech, which I avidly typed into my cell phone’s memo app.
I wanted to stick around until they got him taken from the evaluation area to an actual room. So we got a “here’s what’s going on” post put up on File 770, and I spent a few hours reading Filers’ responses to that to Mike, and relating the content of various tweets, Facebook posts, and the Business Meeting summaries to him. I’d missed the ceremony rehearsal which was early in the afternoon, but I talked to the Hugo staff on the phone, and they promised to give me a quick run-through whenever I got there.
FINALLY they got Mike moved to a room. At that point, it was getting very late in the afternoon, and I really needed to get home and take a shower and get ready for the ceremony. So I called an Uber, and walked out of the ER exit toward the pickup point. The Uber driver arrived, and seemed to have some sort of selective visual impairment, because they were looking at every one of the 16 compass points except at me. I put my arm up and waved it, while walking toward them. They still didn’t see me. So I kept waving and walking.
I never saw the curb that jumped up and hit me. (In my defence, there was construction going on, and the wide sidewalk area there had two sloping areas ramping down flush with the pavement. In between them was a curbed area which was not flush with the pavement.)
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground wondering where the truck that hit me had gone, and two people were urging me to go back into the ER and get my injuries checked. I looked at my watch. It was 5:10pm. The pre-party was supposed to start at 6:00pm. “I can’t,” I said. “I have a ceremony I have to be at in an hour.” So they helped me up, and I hobbled over to my Uber which was 3 fricking metres away — and my Uber driver had missed the entire thing, which had happened right in front of their car. “When did this happen?” they asked. “Just now?” they asked.
I didn’t bother giving them The Look.
Setting aside my perhaps well-founded concerns about their ability to observe possible obstructions and impending collisions in traffic, I had the driver take me back to my hotel. On the way, I called Helen Montgomery, told her what had happened, and said that I was probably going to need some wrangling from the staff at the ceremony. I hobbled up to my room, in a massive amount of pain, wondering how in hell I was going to make it to the ceremony. So I cracked open a cold Mike’s Hard Lemonade, took a few big swigs, and got in the shower. As I was washing my hair, I heard my roommate come in. “Heather?” I said. “What are you doing for the next hour?” I asked her.
“Nothing, as far as I know,” she said.
“Yeah, uh… about that…” I said. “How would you like to be a Hugo Finalist Wrangler?” I asked her. “Because I’ve sprained my ankle and I think I may have broken my arm, and I’m supposed to be down at the pre-Hugo party in half an hour. Would you be willing to help me get ready?” And she graciously agreed.
Heather Rose Jones, folks, is probably the only reason I wasn’t curled up on the bed crying from pain and exhaustion instead of going to the Hugo ceremony Sunday night. She kept talking to me and kept me going while I was getting ready, and helped with all of the things I couldn’t do by myself with a useless hand and arm. The hair and the makeup ended up being, shall we say, close enough only for Government Work. (But at least I had a tiara.)
I got to the pre-party late at about 6:45pm, which at least provided the benefit of allowing me to duck out of being brigaded into the posed finalist photos. I scavenged some food from the buffet, joked with Ursula Vernon about getting into a scuffle with her over something which involved her lying on the floor weeping and covered in quacamole, and sat down to write a speech — alternating between typing on my phone with one finger and shoving cheese and red wine into my mouth.
When the time came, the Hugo Ceremony staff ushered me out to the Grand Ballroom, where they had reserved for me a seat up front right by the stairs to the stage. They made sure that I had an arm and a good hand when I needed one, to carry a heavy rocket and avoid falling. Which was a good thing, because being given less than 12 hours of warning to make a speech under blinding lights in front of 3,500 people, which is being livecast to hundreds of fans all around the world, is pretty terrifying.
All I can say is that GRRM’s Hugo Loser’s Party is every bit as awesome as the rumours say — and that copious amounts of Blood Orange Cider apparently make a passable substitution for legal pharmaceutical analgesics, since I managed to stay to the end. And I have to thank Mike for giving me the opportunity to have what will be one of the most special experiences of my life. I am just sorry that he missed the opportunity to pick up his very last Hugo himself.
I figure that I must have some sort of Hugo record for “Trophy Accepter With Untreated Broken Bones”. Perhaps Kevin Standlee will give me a footnote in the official records.