24th ~ 25th October, 2009

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee,



I picked up the rental- a 2009 Hyundai Accent- at 1:45. We finished packing and loading the car, and were on the highway by three o’clock. A series of small mishaps- such as getting lost in Indianapolis due to the highway we were to take being close and getting caught behind a humongous traffic jam- caused us to arrive at the hotel at 4:30 in the morning. Forum member Ofelia (Sianna) directed boyfriend Matt and I to the room we were sharing with Michele and Katybacon (for that evening only), where we collapsed into bed. However, I didn’t sleep. This was partially due to the amount of caffeine I had ingested in order to not fall asleep at the wheel, but also because I couldn’t calm my mind down. It kept zipping between the downright crappy week I’d had to the fact that this was the last convention in which I’d see Doug until at the very earliest next May - provided, of course, that Dougie isn’t called away to be in Prague or Australia at that time.

We were all up and dressed early next morning for the “Breakfast with the Stars” event that Derek - Doug and company’s appearance manager and owner/founder of Coolwaters Productions - had arranged with the convention. We (the Tankers) ate, caught up, chattered about the upcoming weekend, and goofed off while waiting to say hi to Doug and meet Camden Toy and David Barclay. Ofelia (Sianna), Michele, and Katy told me about their evening - they got to see a magic show with Doug, Derek, and the rest of the gang, and later in the evening, had a pyjama party in their room with Dougie, who wore Kaddi’s infamous “Have a Break- Kick a Cat” shirt. I giggled and groaned enviously when I heard of all this craziness.

During this time, KateWisdom, AKA Renee, came over and introduced herself as a DTF lurker. When the actors arrived, Derek smushed us all together in the crowded breakfast room for a picture. They printed off the pictures and assembled them while we finished eating, then the “Stars” circled the room signing them. We were hugged, Bosied, kissed, petted … all of the Dougie things. I officially have a nickname now, by the way: Carly-Rhi.

We then went over to the convention area, where Matt and I bought our passes. We wandered around until we found the whole Coolwaters area - David on the end, then Camden, then Dougie, who had someone from Friday the 13th next to him (Derek Mears was on the other side of that guy- not sure who he was, exactly).

We all sat together for the Q&A with Doug and Camden … and of course we were the loud ones. After the Q&A, we chicks went to change. Michele completely rocked her Zev costume (from the TV show Lexx) while I was a crappy version of a late 80’s sober Stevie Nicks. Michele and I went down to show off our costumes- Sianna took awhile on her makeup, so we would meet up with her later. We went to see Dougie, Camden, David, and Derek … I would have to say my favorite moment was when Derek asked what Matt was dressed as. “Meatloaf” was his reply.

I was done with my costume before Sianna had finished applying her makeup. My shiny black boots were starting to kill, and my ankles were weakening - not a good thing. I went back up to the room to put on my jeans and silver slippers. Sianna came down with me, dressed as a demonic vampire. We all decided to go get food-like stuff for Doug. Thankfully, there was a Taco Bell across the street, so we all piled into the rental and went through the drive-in. We also picked up some chocolate milk for Derek at the BP station next to the hotel. As it turned out, this was a good idea, getting food for Dougie, as it was his only meal that day. (He didn’t really eat much at breakfast … he got up late and spent all of the time signing autographs and chatting with people.)

After the convention closed, we ran off to Laser Tag. I had never played before, and knew I was going to be pretty crappy at it. Derek also said he had never played, also. There were a ton of people who wanted to play, so they split the group in two - Doug, Derek, Camden, and David played twice. I got dead last. I think Doug was in the top ten with our group, though. Later, I heard that he did poorly the second time. But Derek - the fibber - kicked all of our butts both times, getting a slew of points and ranking at #1.

While the second group was playing, we went back to the room to change and freshen up before the first party in Derek and Alberto’s suite. (Alberto, for those of you who don’t know him, is Derek’s very sweet, quiet life partner.) There was pizza, pop, and booze … always a good combination. Derek showed us Doug’s teaser trailer. Somebody had passed around a sympathy card for Doug before we got there - pretty much a “sorry we kicked your butt” card - too funny. A group of young men gave Doug a humongous Cookie Monster T-shirt, calling him an honorary member of their vocal group, Acafellas. (As a former show choir kid, it does my heart proud to hear there are young men watching shows like Glee.)

Now came my absolute favorite part: karaoke. I am a karaoke fiend to begin with, and I’d had a couple of Derek’s heavy-handed margaritas, so the night was guaranteed to be a blast. All of us Fan Sapiens nabbed up Dougie for a rendition of “Can’t Smile Without You” – of course! I had a blast singing “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Big Brother Derek. A bunch of us sang and did “Time Warp” in front of the singing platform, and we all did “Love Shack,” even Camden and David.

The showgirl in me was doing backflips when everybody jumped up to dance to my version of the B-52’s “Roam,” one of my all-time favorite songs. Sianna sang “You Make Loving Fun” with my “Fandom” lyrics. Dougie sang a sweet love song dedicated to all of his Fan Sapiens, and we were all doubled over laughing at the singlemost raunchy, dirty country song I’ve ever heard, sung by someone not in our group, but simply for that song, always in our hearts. (And if anybody knows the names and artists who performed both songs - tell me, please!) There was almost always someone on the dance floor … and if I wasn’t on the stage, it was most likely me. What can I say, I’m a party-girl.

Matt isn’t much of a dancer, though I did get him on the floor a couple times. I danced with Derek a few times, with the whole group several times, and with Dougie once. He is a GREAT dancer, by the way.

Matt finished up karaoke with a very appropriate song: “With a Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles. We all danced. (This is when a very sloshy Derek grabbed my hands, placing them randomly on his butt, neck, etc, telling me to “make him ((Matt)) jealous.” Matt’s later reply: “He couldn’t make me jealous, because I already know you love me.”)

Doug, Camden, David, Derek, and Alberto were to come to our room for another pajama party, so we ran back to the room to clean up and get into our PJs. After we had been ready for half an hour, however, it was decided that perhaps Doug had just gone back to his room and gotten on the computer. I went to go get him.

He answered the door fully dressed. I told him my mission - to bring him to the party, and he told me to wait a moment, he’d get into his PJs. I wandered over to the railing of the hallway to wait. He was on the third floor, and I looked down strait into the hotel lobby. I’m normally scared to death of heights, but three floors really isn’t that bad. I had a nasty moment at Dragon*Con … the whole group decided to ride the glass elevator as high as it would go - approximately fifty stories - and, having had a double shot of Liquid Stupidity (also known as tequila), I went with them, vowing not to look down. I sneezed … eyes fluttered open … and we were on the forty-something floor … I held it together until we got back to the lobby level, then burst into tears.

That little memory somehow brought back my humiliation from acting class, where I had made a complete ass of myself in front of my peers a few days before. I suddenly wanted to cry again. I didn’t, because I hate crying with a passion, but Doug noticed I was troubled when he came out (once again in the “Kick a Cat” shirt). While we walked, I told him why I was upset.
He told me he still does that - forgets lines during auditions, even while being watched by incredibly good actors. I felt better.

Doug doesn’t sleep a lot on planes, so when we got back to the room, I gave him something I hope will help with that. I made him something called a Quillow. When it’s folded up, it’s a fluffy pillow, but you can unfold it, and it’s a quilt with a pocket for your feet. I got one from my French teacher when I graduated from high school, and I LOVE it. I made Doug’s a few feet longer than mine, using blue-green fabric on one side, and the other side had colorful doggies on it. He told me he loved it, and curled up on one of the beds with it tucked under his head.

Camden and David showed up not long after that, and we sat up for awhile, talking, drinking Dr Peppers and eating KitKats. After awhile, Doug repositioned Camden, and curled up next to him, falling fast asleep … it was too adorable.

Too soon, though, the evening had to end, and the men dispersed to their own rooms.

The next morning, we got up and grabbed some breakfast from the buffet after checking out, waving good morning to Derek, Alberto, Derek’s family, the Coolwaters employees, and David. Camden and Doug were still in their rooms. After breakfast, we wandered over to the convention area. As the day picked up, Doug’s line kept growing, but he wasn’t yet there. We pestered Derek into letting us go get him, and he gave us permission.

On the way up to the room, we deliberated what to say. Matt had the best idea.

“ROOM SERVICE! We were told you wanted bread crumbs and lemon juice, Mr. Jones!”

On the other side of the door, we heard him cackling. He told us to wait a moment and let him finish dressing. We then walked down with him to the convention area. When Doug took his place, we hit up Derek with permission to kidnap Doug for breakfast, and got the okay. So, at 2pm, we made a run for it. Doug and Renee went with me in the rental, while Michele went with Sianna. On the way over, I played my recent album of choice, Avenue Q. If you’ve never heard of it, let me just tell you … Sesame Street for adults. R-rated, perhaps even X. We listened to “Schadenfreude” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” We arrived at Taco Bell, got our food, and ate. After we finished eating, we got a video of Doug answering KateC’s questions that she had sent along with me to ask him. On the way back, we listened to “You Can Be As Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love)” and marveled at Gary Coleman’s gorgeous voice in the song.

When we got back to the convention, we prepared to say our goodbyes. I gave a Quillow to a delighted Big Brother Derek - dark blue faux silk on one side, a Mickey Mouse print on the other - who promptly unfolded it, wrapped it around himself, and ran about like a goof. (See why I love the guy?) I showed him how to refold it, and he gave me a hug. I went around, giving hugs and kisses to all those who I wouldn’t see in a very long time … the Coolwaters employees, Camden, David, Alberto, Derek’s dad, and Dougie. (Derek and I already had an agreement to hang out in Indianapolis next month.) And then I found Michele and Sianna, who were crying, and I started crying, too … all of us went back to Doug for more hugs. I couldn’t help it. I had so many wonderful times with the man, and the next time I’d see him- at the very earliest- would be several months. It was heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to the man whom I had looked up to like a father.

In my distraction, I must have missed saying goodbye to Renee. Sorry, chick! I feel really bad for that now! We did manage to catch Katy and her mom before leaving, and hugged them as well.
We arrived back in Indiana at around 2 a.m.

Ironically, I was asked a question in my Fundamentals of Success class. What experience has changed me the most? There is no question, it has been the events of the past six months. I was shy and scared the first moment I met Dougie, but it was not long before I wasn’t scared or shy any longer. I’m still a little quiet- but that’s different than shy. I can strike up a conversation with someone and not be afraid of what they say, because I know that always---

“There’s Love!”

Carly Smith, Indiana
7th September, 2009

© 2009 Carly Smith. All rights reserved.

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