...sing, and dance/ My heart is set/ All goodly sport/ To my comfort....
Designated Patrons have beat us to the site and embrace each other as they struggle into their 'garb' and have what amounts to an early morning tailgate party.
Look how adorable they are.
"They've been here since eight-thirty," CandyBoy tells me from his souped-up golf cart.
Bless their hearts.
Our white costumes have undergone some revisions in an attempt to top last year's level of gorgeous. Fluffy, without irony, calls the entourage Stairway to Heaven.
"Wait, stop! I want my son to have his picture with you!"
Sorry lady. We follow the littlest one. She's in motion, and besides, we are a procession, not a backdrop.
In the wine garden, a tender mixes what she calls Spanish Fly into our tin cup. Mmmm, tastes like Sangria! Greedy, we snatch the cup back and forth from one another in between mugging and posing against a convinient tree. We are the imps of this village and we take our job seriously.
Seriously impish, that's us.
A little girl in a pink gown with organza wings is afraid of clowns, but by our second encounter is fond and brave enough to have her picture with me, as long as Gran holds her. "Her parents will never believe this," Gramps gushes. Later, a teary-eyed sweetie in lavender approaches. "She's frightened of you, so she wanted to come see you," her mother explains with the sound of someone speaking logically. I reach down from my seat on the bar and pull the girl to my lap. She snuggles up and we are friends forever.
Or at least for the next five minutes.
I've made my trousers too long. The right leg tangles in the foot of the left stilt and spills me onto the ground with a fair degree of momentum. I've no time to alter my position. This is the worst landing I've ever made. I roll over, in pain, suprrounded by concerned faces. What to do? The arm throbs so badly I can't concentrate. I only half-feign distress at the wood chips all over my costume. Pouting, I brush off, scanning the crowd for big guys. Little, little, nope, only medium, where the hell are my burly fellows? Ah, there, ooops, it's Jules. Well, that's embarassing, to need an assist from the boss, but I know I can rely on his shoulder. And hope for his understanding. Now medium sized Joe Patron to my right will do just fine. With a man's shoulder beneath each armpit, I'm on my feet again and off. That Girl indicates that I've lost my nose. Dammit. I stop at Bruce's facepainting tent for a repair. I lean down and one of his girls makes quick work of mending me. "Did you know you're bleeding?" Ah, no. Just cover that shit up with white paint.
I have a responsibility to be beautiful, you know.
I prod That Girl and point to a beautiful man. His sharp-featured face features a warm expression. His silver hair reaches past his shoulders, and his silver beard reaches his collarbone. He's wearing a princess hat. "Princess hats for men!" he calls from his post at the hat cart. That Girl frowns in confusion. I mouth, "That's Patch Adams." He shows up every year about this time, and he's one of the highlights of the weekend.
Because he's lost, I bring him to Customer Service. "I want bagpipes," he says. At Customer Service, he reveals that he wants the BAR with the bagpipes. "White Hart, that's the one!" he exclaims when Nice Lady shows him a map of the village. He asks if I'll walk him there, and since he's fun, I do. He makes a series of bad tall-girl puns on our way, and I nearly fall off my stilts in convulsions of silent laughter. I haven't had this much fun with a drunk in a long time.
He's my very first lost grownup.
Max has finished his rootbeer float and I help a patron locate one for her own child. A man sitting near us wants funnel cake. I check the program for food offerings, but don't find funnel cake. No worries: Max knows. He escorts Mr. Hungry halfway across site for his goodie.
Trust my boy to know where all yummy stuff is sold.
Okay, I'll cop to that. I turn.
"So, my lady, you do not speak, but you DO hear!"
Mmmm. Yes, and?
"Might I have your hand?"
I give him the confused look, then tuck my mug under one arm to show him both my hands.
"Ah, I am to have my choice, then?"
Sure, why not. Give it back, though.
"Well, then, my lady, I shall choose the right. Know you, my lady, that I am Shawn, and I be a privateer, but what is more important, I am a romanceteer."
Oh, yeah? He raises my hand to his lips, slowly, slowly, holding my eyes with his the whole time. It is not only the tickling of his moustache and breath against the back of my hand that sends me into fits of snickering. He kisses my hand, finally, finally, and from behind his back, produces a rose, which he hands to me with a courtly bow.
Outside the bookshop, Santa Claus stretches his arms out to me. I grasp his hands, lean down to kiss him. His friend snaps a shot. Atop his snowy head, Santa is wearing a green John Deere cap.
"We've been looking for you all day, Mimi!"
Consider me found.
I pass parents clustered outside the school, in khaki or denim shorts, skirts and trousers, all topped with ice-cream colored tee shirts. It's nearly as much a uniform as the ones their children are wearing inside the building. The Real World seems boring to me now.
Come visit me in my world. You only have seven more weekends.
(Pastime In Good Company; Henry VIII)