Election '08: Penetrating the Matrix

The Pepsi Center, where much of the Democratic National Convention is going down, is situated in an area of Denver called Lo-Do (lower downtown). It's one of those loft-conversion, yuppie makeovers that Los Angeles is hoping like hell will happen in downtown LA, especially around Staples Center. It looks like it's working here. They have the South Platte River, not much more than a creek, rimming the outskirts of the area, Riverfront Park running alongside the river, the train tracks coming out of Union Station to give it all a little flavor, and lots of happy looking young(ish) folks walking the streets and popping into the plethora of sports-themed bars and restaurants. My initial research has shown that Denver is a hard place to get a bad cheeseburger and an easy place to watch sports on multiple TVs while eating a good cheeseburger.

Anyway, the route to the Pepsi Center goes through Lo-Do, but the Center itself functions almost like an optical illusion: it gives the impression of being across the next street, or bridge or block, but it stays further away than you thought. Not to mention, none of the locals seem all that interested in it, giving friendly but vague waves in a certain direction when asked how to get there. After awhile, you wonder if the matrix can, in fact, really be penetrated.

Eventually, though we made it to perimeter, which is fenced off and heavily secured. Aside from local police, and officers brought in from nearby cities like Colorado Springs, there were a lot of Secret Service police lining the approach to the Pepsi Center. On the path that seemed to be leading right up to the front door, I was immediately accosted by a lively young lady handing out condoms on behalf of the Trojan brand. She handed me a (lubricated) condom in blue packaging and said, "Have a nice convention."

"If I need this, things are going better than expected," I replied, slightly flummoxed.

"Well," she smiled, "see if you can get us on the agenda." I think that was a double entendre, but in my confusion, I actually wondered if she might be asking me to lobby for birth control on the platform.

I was pondering how Trojan condoms had made it so deep inside, so to speak, when after making it just a few yards more towards the Center another happy, young woman eagerly approached me with another condom (intense ribbed).

"Do you have any extra large?" I deadpanned. She didn't even bat an eyelash and went digging around the Trojan Condom display case.

"I'm just kidding," I said, "I'll be fine with this one."

"Okay," she smiled, earnestly performing her job, and I'm guessing she hasn't been doing this very long, "have a good convention."

"Thanks." I was starting to wonder if this was a convention to nominate the democratic candidate, or a love in. there really a difference?

We wound our way through the security maze and placed our items -- phones, computers, keys, etc. -- into the crates to be scanned. I was waved to the threshold where humans get scanned.

"Empty your pocket, please," said the security guard.

I didn't think twice. Maps, notebook, parking pass...condoms. Ooops.

The security guard honed in on the condoms, trying to keep a straight face as he passed the scanner over them. I turned red.

"Someone gave me those outside," I pleaded.

"Uh, huh," he said, almost keeping a smile from cracking. "You're good, go inside."

I was inside the matrix, and protected.

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