I Went to a Conference for Women, and All I Got Was a Big Rash

July 30, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

JOCK ITCH. The “big rash” was actually jock itch; I just didn’t have the nerve to stick it up there in the title.

It was only midway through the first full day of BlogHer — a ginormous conference about blogging and social media, started by and primarily for women — when I realized I was miserable. I’d had more than my normal level of big-guy-thigh-chafe discomfort (AKA “Chub Rub”) from all the walking around, and I couldn’t stop scratching myself. I was, in fact, on fire.

I skipped whatever session I was planning on attending, and approached the concierge at my hotel to inquire about the closest drugstore. “There’s a Walgreen’s not too far away,” he said cheerily. He gave me quick directions and added, “It’s about a 15 minute walk.” Uh, no.

Getting desperate, I made a beeline for the taxis out front. And for whatever reason, said to the cabbie, “I hurt my foot and need to go to Walgreen’s to pick up my medicine. Can you wait for me there and bring me back?”

I’m sure I could have just asked him for a round-trip to Walgreen’s without adding my ruse. Perhaps I didn’t want to appear lazy. Or I wanted to make sure he understood I was crippled so he wouldn’t drop me off at the drugstore and abandon me. In any event, I was committed to it now, and I’m nothing if not committed.

As the cab stopped in front of the store, I told the driver I’d be about 5 minutes, then exited the car and proceeded to pull a reverse Keyser Söze, adding a slight limp to my few strides up to the drugstore’s door.

Once inside, I hurriedly searched the store for the JOCK ITCH section. I was asked a couple of times if I needed help (I clearly did) but I said I was just looking around. Seriously? Who browses a drugstore? But I finally found what I was looking for, in the backmost, bottommost shelf of the store, lumped in with the treatments for ticks, lice and crabs.

Just to be safe, I grabbed both a spray can and a tube of Lotrimin. I headed for the front of the store, trying to hide my shameful purchases behind my hand without looking like I was trying to steal it. As I was waiting in the excruciatingly long line, the loudspeaker started playing “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” Did I mention I was in San Jose? This was getting really weird.

I got to the counter, paid the cashier, turned down both of his offers for a bag and limped back out to my cab. When I got back to the room, I put the AC on full blast, gave myself a “treatment” and then texted my roommate to please let me know before he came back. Because I was laid up like I was in stirrups, sympathizing (a bit) with the sense of exposure women must feel on a regular basis. Not exactly the BlogHer experience I was anticipating.

Before too long I found relief and was able to rejoin the conference. But my malady continued to flare up, causing me to miss out on other sessions, potential connections, trips around the expo floor and many a late night shenanigan.

As I was packing my bags to leave Sunday morning, I started to get a little a lot bummed out. I thought about the list of companies I’d wanted to make contact with but hadn’t; the fact that I missed hearing both Ariana Huffington and Kerry Washington speak; that I didn’t get to play Cards Against Humanity or dance in the cheesy hotel bar into the wee hours of the morning. And I was worried I’d wasted this long (and expensive) trip across the country. The feeling gnawed at me up until I got on the plane to head home.

This was the longer of my two flights, so I thought I’d start by recounting my weekend in writing. I began chronologically, but quickly got things out of order, frustrated with the gaps in my schedule, and abandoned that route. As the negative thoughts started to creep back in (yes, like an annoying rash) I put my mental foot down and decided I’d document everything good that happened at the conference first, then circle back to the negative afterwards.

So I started to write.

I wrote about all of the fun I had with my posse of dad bloggers — the trailblazer, the Wonder Twins, the poet, the fisherman and the chef. I recalled the wacky video I filmed with a young lady who never stopped making me laugh. I jotted down quotes from the hilarious and inspiring talks given by two of the most powerful, female, LGBTQ voices on the Internet. And I remembered the stories told during the Voices of the Year ceremony that left me heartbroken, dumbfounded, side-splitted and uplifted.

And I wrote down all of the details from the conversations I had with many of these (and more), putting stars next to topics I wanted to take action on, underlining new things I wanted to try, question marks on thoughts that needed revisiting. I had to stop every few minutes to make sure what I was writing was legible — while I’m always sketching, it had been a while since I’d put this much pen to paper solely for the sake of writing.

When I was finished, I had filled NINE PAGES with ideas and inspirations, to-do lists and doodles. I never got around to the negative part.

So while I had perhaps missed some of the more “official” parts of the conference, I’d gotten out of BlogHer exactly what I’d needed. I was inspired to write more. I was allowed time to have conversations I’d been longing to have, without the distractions of everyday life. I shared ideas I’d been mulling (and got immediate feedback) from those I admire as writers, designers, LGBT leaders, parents and friends. This time helped me focus and recommit to this adventure in writing that has already been so incredible.

And I got to have some much-needed “me” time, kick up my heels, and allow my thoughts to air out a bit.

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A few pics & things from my first BlogHer! To see more, visit Designer Daddy on Facebook or Instagram.

BlogHer - dads in a bar

BlogHer’s Dad Blogger Annex, AKA the hotel bar

BlogHer - Lesbian Dad

Lesbian Dad dropping wisdom

BlogHer - VOTY

Posing with my Voices of the Year-winning poster-sized post

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Here’s the wacky video. Please follow this woman on all of the Internet things you can.

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This post was not sponsored by Lotrimin, though it might as well have been.

Upon further exploration, I did not in fact have epic jock itch. Trust me — and don’t look it up — I got off easy.

For lots more conversation about parenting, design, pop culture — and WAY less about fungal infections — follow Designer Daddy on Twitter or like Designer Daddy on Facebook!

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14 responses to “I Went to a Conference for Women, and All I Got Was a Big Rash”

  1. Whit says:

    A) Thank you for the warning. I did not want to walk in on that. No offense.
    B) Why didn’t I get a ring?
    C) I see you omitted the part where you STOLE SODAS.
    D) I ate pasta for dinner last night.
    E) All of the above.

    • Brent Almond says:

      To Whit:
      A) Non taken. At all.
      B) I thought about giving them to all you guys, but I don’t think I ever got drunk enough to get up the nerve. Also, made for kids (so it might have fit Charlie).
      C) So much for “Whatever happens at BlogHer…”
      D) Was it far-fuls?
      E) Thanks for being a non-snoring, non-hearing-my-snores roommate. A+ ★★★★★ Highly recommended.

  2. A few questions.

    1. Drugstore? We call them either a pharmacy or chemist in Australia. Sure they sell drugs, but we don’t advertise it. Is drugstore the “formal” name or is it merely American slang?

    2. Why does Charlie’s head looked like it is photo shopped into that photo?

    3. So, how is your foot?

    • Brent Almond says:

      To Darrell:
      1) Drugstore or pharmacy are acceptable. Chemist is not. Unless you go to Hogwarts.
      2) I believe he has minions that go in and touch up every photo taken of him, just in case there’s a talent scout around.
      3) “Foot” is fine and fit as a fiddle. Thanks for asking.

  3. Mike Heenan says:

    Yes, Darrell, drug store. You see the cashier was pushing bags on him. Buddha bless Cali High! (Northern California) Brent I’m glad you got your bits sorted and look forward to what your post – conference reflections produce. Air it all out, brother. Air it all out.

  4. Deb Rox says:

    I just adore you and this is only the second time in my entire life I have said this to a person who recently discussed jock itch, the first being my soccer-playing son. If I didn’t already love you, your embellished story to the taxi driver, a sure sign of a wildly creative mind, would have sealed the deal. Your presence is a good, good thing — and I love seeing you with your Dude Posse on video with the brilliant Jessi!

    • Brent Almond says:

      Thanks Deb!
      Glad I got to see you (briefly) and hear your epic 10×10 talk. It was my favorite (which is saying a lot) for it’s focus and use of a theme throughout. Did I tell you that Laura Mayes and her son were sitting at our table during your talk? I kept looking over to see if he noticed you talking about dick pics, but he was busy playing with some expo swag ping-pong balls. 😉

  5. (A) I can’t believe Whit was your roommate. It is even more criminal that I wasn’t there wreaking havoc and/or (most likely AND) having intense, deep thoughts about Life and Consciousness at the two of you in a haze at 3am.
    (B) I knew I had sold you on the conference and felt a not-small concern that you would be disappointed since I wasn’t there to usher you around. Yes, I am THAT self-absorbed.
    (C) I had a lightning-quick impulse to say, “Gee, we should have hung out when we were both feeling so crappy” —— an impulse you immediately reversed with your memorable visual of the healing experience.
    (D) If you had read my What to Wear To BlogHer post of 2012, you woul have been reminded that thigh chafe is INEVITABLE. And would have then bought yourself a nice pair of Spanx Skinny Britches and you wouldn’t have missed a thing. Or maybe not. There’s only so far you can go with the woman thing, I guess.
    (E) I am beyond thrilled you got a lot out of it. I did too, even in my haze of unwellness.
    You are my favorite 2014 souvenir!! See you at Dad 2.0 2015!! xo

  6. Susan says:

    Well then, I’m so glad I got to see as much of you as I did. And we were like journal-writing twins! Until next time, friend.

  7. This wins for best BlogHer write-up, I think. Or at least most unique :). And side note, where was there Cards Against Humanity going on?! I missed out on that, I guess.

  8. Don says:

    I could have done without most of the crotch related stuff, but I’m glad you got something positive out of your expensive trip.

  9. Anne Parris says:

    It was great to meet you, even if it was just for three seconds at the airport.

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