A couple of years ago, Mike and I came to Austin for the Texas Book Festival, a massive annual literary event started by Laura Bush. As we checked into the Sheraton, a standard monolithic corporate hotel, we noticed something… unusual in the lobby bar. A Texas-sized gentleman clad in faded jeans and a cowboy hat creased with sweat stains stood next to a lean red-haired pole of a man dressed as a woodland fairy clutching a lute. The pair stood chatting to a pair of little women in stilettos perched on stools at the bar. I don’t mean the novel by Louisa May Alcott, but actual little women. It turned out that In addition to authors, that weekend the hotel hosted The Independent Cattleman’s Association, The Little People of America and an international gathering of Celtic musicians. By the time we ditched our bags in the room, this curious intersection of groups packed the bar. The little people partied hard with the cowboys, the Celtic musicians jammed in the bar while the writers clung back to the periphery furiously taking notes.
I thought of that scene again yesterday when I checked into my hotel for the IACP conference yesterday. Sadly, the bar was silent.