ACES got robbed yesterday.

Somebody grabbed the cashbox for the copy editor society’s book sale, ran off and disappeared into the streets of Hollywood.

Mike from Mizzou, a way-cool dude I met at last year’s convention in Houston, told me with unvarnished pride that he saw his first drug bust right along the Walk of Fame. His colleague, a fellow journalism professor, missed the whole thing — she was too busy checking out the stars.

Symbolic, I know.

After lunch I saw this guy dressed as some kind of African warrior — his attire was primarily a loin cloth. I looked closer after I walked past and noticed he had a huge snake wrapped up one side of his body and down the other. Can’t say how this street performance played with the tourists; I can see ’em being free w/their dimes and dollars for mimes and grimy guitar strummers, but the big-snake thing might’ve been a bit much for the folks from DuBuque.

Then again it could be the guy’s been hired by Hollywood’s tourism bureau to make sure there’s always somebody doing something strange to keep an Aura of Wonder about the place.

When I first got to the hotel Wednesday I got a “Hi Tom” from a young woman who — at that exact moment — I lost all memory of ever having seen before. She’d cut her hair and recolored it since last year’s convention, which gave me a bit of an excuse for the brain-blankage. Later though, it dawned on me where the blankage came from.

It’s that little voice that married guys carry with us. Our wives don’t have to say it for us to hear it, but it’s in there. And it’s telling us: “You know all those bright young single women you’re meeting at these conventions? Well, FORGET ABOUT ‘EM.”

I’m meeting bunches of people with connections to the Tampa Trib, whose doorways I last darkened in the summer of 1993. One guy told me we were there at the same time and he remembers me from back in the day (seems I’m forgetting the guys too) and I spent the next two hours trying to match his face with the one in my dusty database. I had to get my brain to do one of those FBI computer simulations you always see on the cop shows — the ones where they take somebody’s picture and add or subtract years by tapping on their keyboards. No wonder I didn’t remember him at first. Poor guy’s aged 12 years since I saw him last.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll give a talk advising my fellow newsies to avoid the wrong foods and refrain from overindulging on such things as imported beers and domestic gin and tonics. Then I’ll have to start following my own advice again. Conventions are hell on the ol’ fitness-and-diet regimen. Maybe that’ll be my topic for a future seminar: what to do next year to recover from the effects of this year.