* To be surrounded by an absurd amount of pick-up artists.
* To be hit on.
* To be somewhat conspicuous as the only scheduled female speaker.
* To see very little of Montreal itself.
* To be hit on some more.
* To get very little sleep (listening to presentations all day and going out at night).
What I did not expect from Cliff's Convention:
* To have my ATM card unknowingly expire the day before the trip.
* To be driven to a foreign country in a car with a broken speedometer.
* To hear enthusiasm at the Canadian age of consent (14. I won't name names and, yeah, ew).
* To have PUA Logan be such an easygoing travel companion.
* To go the full weekend without a single alcoholic beverage.
* To meet so many intelligent, polite, and friendly men (guests and speakers alike).
Logan and I didn't get to the Marriott until that morning, missing the first day of speakers. One of the members of the Montreal lair, T, approached us as we entered the hotel, introduced himself, and showed us to the convention room (everything you've heard about how friendly the Canadians are? Totally true.).
"How's it going in there?" I asked.
"There seems to be a more holistic approach going on," T replied, "It's a whole new wave of pickup."
I was intrigued.
We entered the gathering room outside the convention hall, where Logan and I registered.
"Are you Dolly?" An Asian man with a hip haircut asked.
(I would quickly get used to hearing that question.) "Yes."
"I'm Asian Playboy. Good to meet a fellow blogger."
We got our passes and entered the convention room.
My first reaction was surprise, at just how nice the set-up was. There were rows of banquet tables with fresh linen, on which sat pitchers of water, glasses, pads, pencils, and bowls of candy. The chairs were cushioned and comfortable, neither folding nor plastic. I settled in at a table in the back, instantly relaxed and ready to spend a full day listening to speakers. Not to mention doing my own presentation that afternoon. As soon as I had a look around and noticed the tasteful stage set and backdrop, my nervousness evaporated. I could do this. Even with the two film crews recording every minute of the proceedings.
My next surprise came at the speakers and contents of their discussions. Where I was expecting to hear variations on the Mystery Method or David D's Cocky/Funny tactic, there was a range of wisdom and advice shared, much of it deeply introspective and highly insightful. I was starting to understand what T meant about the new wave, the holistic approach.
Logan went to take a nap before my talk, so I went to the hotel bar for lunch alone. I ended up talking shop with Asian Playboy (who had also been the subject of an article, for a Dallas paper) for the duration of the meal, and also met Lance Mason (Mr. PickUp101).
"Dolly!" Lance greeted me warmly. "I feel like everyone has met you except for me."
We briefly chatted about our discussion topics and mentioned the possibility of meeting up in NYC next time he and his girlfriend were in town (I had drinks with two of his instructors, who were a blast, months earlier, so I knew anyone related to PickUp101 would be fun to hang out with).
Was everybody going to be personable and easy to talk to? Coming from New York City, it's somewhat disconcerting. Also, being a woman at a pickup convention, shouldn't I be treated with suspicion for crashing their boy's club? Would this congenial vibe continue throughout the weekend?
There wasn't time to think about that. I had to practice my speech a couple of more times before going on in front of a room full of (predominantly male) strangers and cameras. I ignored the flutter in my stomach, found a quiet corner, and took out my notecards.
Less than two hours later, I was being fitted with a microphone headset. Before I knew it, the MC was calling my name and I was walking to the stage, in a haze of dry ice and applause...