The idea came to me a few months back like a bolt of lightning (pardon the Back to the Future line). I watched Married With Children since I was a kid and Al... c'mon, the lovable, reluctant, yet ultimately devoted can't-catch-a-break patriarch of the Bundy clan is just too memorable, yet nice and obscure on the con circuit. So sewn were the seeds. And the fact that I have NOT seen it done before meant I had to be the one to spearhead it. My very good buddy Claire Rogoski didn't need any convincing as she too is a fan of the show and was only thrilled to be my Peg and yes, part of my pitch included the fact that I was going to bring a 3rd family member - that friggin' couch.

I scouted thrift stores and Craigslist for months, keeping an eye out for what I was realistically resigning myself to as a pattern that was "close." Then one day, when I was vegging on a bench prior to my boxing class, I peeked at Craigslist and couldn't believe it. I did a double take. I found. The. EXACT. Bundy. Couch! Needless to say I drove all the way up there the next day and snagged it up. It belonged to a very genial and vibrant couple with two young kids who were moving (the wife adored its uniqueness, hence convincing hubs to approve). They were beyond tickled as to why I wanted it. 

Fast forward 3 weeks - C2E2. Saturday morning I lug it out of my garage, strap it in my truck, pick up the furniture casters on the way (AS Al) and fight for parking. The lines for the normal garages were beyond ridiculous, so I bit the bullet and looked for street parking on MLK Drive (which I'd rather not do, eg. smashed windows, but I learned after doing it Saturday and Sunday it's okay). I found it about a half mile away. I unloaded, duct taped the caster wheels to the legs, and began the push - in the street, up the bike lane, for the cracks in the sidewalk would become a problem. It took me about a half hour. I had about 60 - 70 people throughout the day exclaiming, "that was YOU!" or "we saw you waiting in line to park but thought it was just some rando weirdo moving some furniture!" Weirdo, yes. A random one, oooh no.

What can I say about the day itself... Peg and I eventually found our perch in the lobby, level 2.5. It was comfortable. It was mega relaxing. I had a steady stream of adult beverages in hand (keeping it in character). As I repeatedly remarked during those 8 or so hours, "there are worse ways to con; this ain't one of 'em -raised my bottle-." The guest stars were half the fun: Voldermort hung with us on and off for a good few hours, as did Tank Girl. The most menacing, in-character Joker I know kicked up his heels for a while. Mystique, Lady Stoneheart from Game of Thrones Wolverines, Deadpools, photographers, and the most genuine fans of Married With Children plopped down and shared their positive energy - you really learn just how wide the breadth of the fan base is some 30 YEARS after it first aired. We even enjoyed the company of the best Svengooolie look alike we've seen at a con yet - because it WAS Svengoolie, Rich Koz himself! The man was rather bemused by how our prop was so comfy and he accordingly relaxed right there chewing the fat with us for a few minutes, ending with praise (HE praised US!) and a thank you. If that's not the very definition of flattery... Right there was the high point - meeting a first-rate, down-to-earth Chicagoland icon whom we've been watching on TV since childhood. 

After dark, when the lobby was all but empty, we packed it in. It was strange that the most frequent question [pertaining to the couch] we got was, "how did you get that thing in here?" That and, "where in the world did you find that? It looks JUST like it!" It was a pleasure to be asked. Lots of prep work went into it and funny enough, the day transpired pretty much as I anticipated with logistical challenges up front but massive cosfame and accolades during and after (not to mention comfort). 

Later, we afterpartied in the lobby of the Hyatt - at what was the makeshift restaurant for the time as the actual restaurant was under construction/renovation. I took couch with (couldn't leave it alone in my truck) and again it was a celebrity: by being used like real hotel furniture while at a table I ate, by still entertaining picture-taking when on it, and by inducing random smiles as passers-by came and went. It was a whirlwind of a day and contender for highlight of my year and the cherry on top of it all, when we did the final move out the door, everybody in the lobby crescendoed in cheer and applause! Saying goodbye to a new friend. This overwhelming positivity and celebration of life itself is exactly why we and so many do this and in the words of my spot-on and quick-witted weekend Peg, Claire Rogoski:

"cosplay doesn't mean you have to look or act like a diva or a perfect pin up or a centerfold or a model. It doesn't have to be about having the most expensive or tricked out prop or costume. But having fun as the character; as your own spin on the character, can be as rewarding as you can possibly imagine it.... and more!"

--- Michael Weber