It’s Saturday, in late July and I just returned home from work. Bill has the house decorated with eighteen dark-blue balloons, Happy Birthday sign with hearts above it and beef stew in the crock-pot for dinner. I’m hungry but go upstairs to take a bath as the potatoes and carrots aren’t finished cooking. We eat my early birthday dinner and I take a 45-minute nap. This is my third time going to Comic-Con San Diego and I want to look great.

I put on black leggings, short, black boots, black, short-sleeved blouse and put a rope belt around my shoulder — like Indiana Jones. I fill my black canvas purse with camera, phone, comb, gum, notebook paper and pen. I can’t find my orange lip-ivo. I wonder where it went? I look through my upper dresser drawer and it’s not there either. I go down to the SUV where Bill is waiting. “Have you seen my orange lip gloss?” I ask. As we drive out of the garage, we see Patti, our neighbor walking up the street. “Have fun tonight,” she says.

We drop Bruiser and Che off at the kids, check to see that the kids home is locked, some lights on, etc. The kids will be home in an hour. We’ve been dog-sitting Che for a week while they’re on vacation. We see a gorgeous, Dr. Seuss, orange sunset on our way through the canyon to Highway 5. It’s soon very dark as we make our way to San Diego and Comic-Con. The first year I went alone. This is when I came up with the idea of poetry cartoons. I made the “Dreams” cartoon last year and left copies in the X-box Lounge. We had a lot of fun playing video games there. “I hope we can see the X-box exhibit again tonight,” I say.

We go to the same parking lot near the Padres stadium and it’s $35 to park this year. We drive around the block and another lot is $25. “I don’t remember parking being this expensive last year,” I say. We drive further and see all places on the street are filled with vehicles. The lot where we tried to park last year is cleared out with no parking signs everywhere. “It looks like we’ll have to cough up the $25,” Bill says. The event is really spread out this year. We walk up near Padres stadium and there are walking dead everywhere. The Zombie walk happened at 8:00 in Gaslamp and now they’re convening for another event. Since we’re not into Zombies, we leave for the X-box event up the street.

Bill is using the GPS on his phone to guide us. It doesn’t say the Manchester Grand Hyatt is a mile or more away as we start. Bill is irritated we have to walk so far. We get to an intersection where the train crosses and see a train coming at us. “Wow, they should really have a safety bar here, someone could get hit!” Bill says. We walk across Market Place street and see a fantastic hotel in front of us. “Wow, this hotel is gorgeous, “ I say. We go inside and look for signs of Comic-Con.

As we walk through the spacious lobby, we see a person in a large mouse head. “That is a biggg mouse,” Bill says. “It looks very Hollywood. This must be the place,” I say. After talking to hotel staff, we learn the Comic-Con exhibits are on second and fourth floors. We go into deluxe bathrooms on second floor and I have trouble figuring out how water comes out of the faucet to wash my hands. Every hotel and restaurant have to have the latest bathroom systems. Sorry I took so long, I couldn’t get the water out of the faucet,” I say.

“What will we do if the power ever goes out,” Bill says.

We continue to explore and on fourth floor, see two guards and an exhibit on Atari. Atari came out about the time the movie ET did. “Justin used to have this system, I think,” Bill comments. We look at what now seem ancient Atari controllers. Bill takes a pic of me by a large Comic-Con sign.

“Where should I put the new cartoons? I don’t want to leave them in this exhibit as they may get thrown away, “ I say. We take the escalator downstairs to the concierge desk and I ask, “Could you get these to the X-box people tomorrow?” After a discussion they agree to get them out tomorrow. “Mission accomplished,” I say as we walk out the door of this magnificent hotel.

“Shall we go see Homers Dome, Simpsons exhibit up the street at the Hilton?” I ask.

“No, let’s go back to the Gaslamp,” Bill says gruffly. I’m okay with this as the Hilton is six blocks or more up the street. We take a more direct route back to Gaslamp area. As we get near J Street, I snap a picture of a mummy walking by us on the sidewalk. “Nice,” Bill says.

We survey the overcrowded, outdoor restaurants for a place to sit. People are walking up and down the streets in dressy clothes. “I don’t see many superheroes,” I say.

We walk near Jose’s Tequila Bar and see open tables on the patio. “No cover for a DJ and $5 Margaritas,” a young woman in tight, pencil skirt calls.

We grab a table that’s open after I get carded. “I like this place,” I say to Bill, smiling. We’re right near the door and can see lots of Comic-Con characters go by as I sip my Corona with lime. A cool Batman and Spiderman duo stop to take a photo with Supergirl at a table near us on the patio. There are lots of young people in short skirts going to the dance in the club behind us.

“Look Vera, there’s a very sophisticated Batman,” Bill says. I look to see a Batman in full tux with a bowtie on.

“Wow, you see it all here,” I say. I take a picture of the historic hotel across the street. There are people walking by it, eating ice cream cones.

Two beers later, we make our way out of the gaslamp and back to our SUV. “I didn’t get a lot of pictures of Comic-Con attendees like I usually do,” I say to Bill. The streets are still crowded with people. “A hostess at one of the restaurants told me the first year I attended that this is the busiest time at the Gaslamp area,” I say. We make the hour drive back to North County. “What a fun night! I had a great time,” I say.

“It was really fun! I hope we got some good pictures,” Bill says.

Next morning I’m looking for shoes for work and notice my short, black boots are all scratched up. There are claw like marks all over them. I go downstairs and ask Bill, “Has Bruiser been in the closet lately?”

“No, why,” he says.

I give him a puzzled look. “My short, black boots are all clawed up,” I say.

“Wow, they really are! I didn’t do it,” He says. He thinks about it and several minutes later says, “Maybe you scratched them last night.”

They could have gotten under another pair of shoes and one of us stepped on them, scratching them up. I think to myself. At least that’s what I’m going to believe. It‘s better than the alternative: That a bad guy from Comic-Con followed us home and clawed them while we were sleeping. Was it the person in the giant mouse head?

Valerie Writer Bump is a multi-form author who lives in San Diego, CA. She is a member of NFSPS (LOMP) and Academy of American Poets. Valerie is published in many poetry anthologies and has a CD titled Happiness. She is writing short stories now and hopes to publish soon.