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For the first time this century, I will not be attending the Republican convention. The reasons for this are complicated, but apparently they have to do with “keeping expenses low” and “drunk the entire time.” Which is too bad, since the only thing on my calendar between July 18 and 21 is my sister’s due date, and she’s already had her baby. It’s her second baby, so I’ll meet Allison Jade Browning at her high school graduation.

The GOP picked four days in the middle of summer for its convention because it’s a slow time at work, as it clearly is for me. The timing hasn’t caused scheduling conflicts for Republicans in past years, and Democratic politicians are totally free in July. But–and I’m sure this is the main thing Republican party leaders will work on changing for the 2020 cycle–mid-July turns out to be crazy busy for conservative lawmakers.

Maryland Governor Larry Horgan has an invite on July 20 to go to the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, an event that has both crabs and clams. Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz is leading nine members of Congress, including fellow Utah Republican Mia Love and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Meehan, on an overseas trip. A congressional delegation traveling to learn about antiterrorism efforts is something you’d think the RNC would be aware of. One of the changes in the party platform will definitely be “use Google Calendar.”

South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy has a family beach vacation, which he cannot skip, since the shore is where he discovers all the cool new hairstyles. Similarly, Senator Mark Kirk can’t attend because, as he told talk-radio host Roe Conn, “I’ve got to really do my hair that week.” Judd Gregg, a former governor and Senator from New Hampshire, and Representative Paul Cook from California have blocked out time to spend with their grandchildren, and unfortunately their summer break from school happens to be in the summer.

Senator Steve Daines of Montana will be trout fishing, which–assuming it’s in the western districts–can be done only from the third Saturday in May through Nov. 30, a period that coincides exactly with the convention. Senator Jeff Flake told an AP reporter he can’t go because “I have to mow my lawn,” which isn’t the kind of thing you can hire another person to do in Mesa, Ariz., especially when, based on Google Maps’ photos, your yard doesn’t have a lawn. Senator Ben Sasse has said he will not be attending but “will instead take [his] kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state,” which is presumably some weird thing kids are into now, like hoverboards or dabbing.

At first I suspected that these were excuses, and that the real reason politicians were avoiding the convention was its location, Cleveland. Then I realized that the Cleveland area is a fun park for old white male conservatives: Pro Football Hall of Fame! Polka Hall of Fame and Museum! Steamship William G. Mather from World War II! Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club! And it isn’t the TSA lines, either. Ohio Governor John Kasich has indicated he may skip it, while Ohio Senator Rob Portman–who will stop by the convention briefly–in a bizarre coincidence is holding his own mini-convention on the same days. It will be at a community college that–the odds of this have to be incredible–is also in Cleveland.

So the GOP convention–the biggest, most visible gathering of party leaders in an election year–is going to have a lot of first-time delegates and speakers without much power in the party. People who, without my decades of experience, will not know how to get into the Huffington Post Oasis tent for a full-body massage from Arianna Huffington, as I did in Tampa in 2012, which I believe led to her focus on getting more sleep, so that she could spend fewer waking hours remembering the experience. I fear they won’t figure out how to go with Grover Norquist to a gay GOP organization’s party at a gay bar called the Honey Pot, as I did in Tampa, and foolishly go to a different gay GOP organization’s boring lunch in Tampa at Oystercatchers, which, shockingly, is not a gay bar.

So I’m not quite as sad about missing this year’s convention. Without so many prominent members of the party, I worry there will be a lack of convening. Instead, I fear they will be attending a party thrown by one man, to celebrate one man, attended solely by people who want to be that one man. And I can do that at my house, two days after the convention is over, on my birthday. I get the feeling the odds of Republican politicians’ being available to come to my house that day will be significantly higher.

This appears in the July 25, 2016 issue of TIME.

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