...how does it feel to be/one of the Beautiful People?/How often have you been there?/Often enough to know.....
A sinking snuggle into shabby seat is a welcome embrace. I pull off my top to the Beatles blaring through the radio, and a grin explodes across my face. How I've survived most of August in the BoringMobile is a mystery. Now, with load-in complete and Opening Weekend under our belts, the larger vehicle becomes superfluous for the next eight weeks.
Opening morning is cloudy, but untroubled by precipitation. We are glad to not broil under the gleaming sun. Our spandex suits provide gleam enough.
The white outfits are, as always, a hit, and the race to assist in the PeeWee Pirate and Princess Party Parade (in honor of Kids Free Weekend) puts us behind for Chat-N-Chew with Mimi and Gigi. Good thing I specially marked all times as being "ish" in nature. A garbed couple loans me a baby to snorgle. She's waiting for a meal- her father holds an old-style formula bottle in his hand, but the baby seems content, and settles in my lap as though she'll stay forever. It's an organic sort of non-show event, akin to the bubble appearance I put in on the piazza at the Pennsylvania Faire, wherein there is little required of the patrons in the vicinity. Admire, participate, ignore; it's very low key. Plus, we renew our bodies for our stilt excursion. I've scheduled us too tightly. We make it out on stilts by 1:30, not 1:00, as planned, but make up in enthusiasm what we lack in promptness. Everyone comments on how the children have grown, and it's not just a joke about the stilts. This is us, the first year Fluffy worked with me.
Ken's brother is beginning to look like Ken to me. His ginger hair is silvering. Ken remains dead, except in my heart. I think about Crooked Finger Man, the amatuer photographer who has been looking more frail each year. I wonder if he is connected in the fringe, if any of our company knows his name or could discover what's become of him. I think of Bonnie, formerly Bliss Goodbody of the Bawdy Balladeers, who has been in poor health for some time. Jim Casey's booth, since his death, is being run by his sister. Tradition continues.
I search for new vendors in old booths: who has sold to whom during the off season? I find none. There is a new kiosk for hairbraiding, owned, I assume, by the Goddess Gracie, since I see her there. There are three or four tents up on formerly performable spots. It's just not worth trying to choerograph a "big bit", as any available real estate is leased to a crafter by the management as soon as I discover it. There is a cart selling egg rolls. The tents with logs and bags of hay for people to whack one another with are gone. I do not see the rickey carts, but they often do not appear until the third weekend anyway. Some of the acts are new, but old: Daniel Duke of Danger is here. I remember him as one third of Pandemonium. The London Broil is here, Duncan and Louie being from the first group of the Young Actors Ensemble in 1993. Or maybe '92. Possibly '91. Damn, I'm old.
We wander long-legged into the pub, and there, there! is Crooked Finger Man, looking fragile, but pleased to see us. Darling, you couldn't be nearly as glad to see me as I am to see you. A young man I recognize tells me Dan is back. Dan the Master Joyner, maker of fine furnishings, was in an accident that should have finished him off. "He's in the booth, so stop by to see him." I waste no time. "I'm glad they never told me how bad off I was, or I wouldn't be walking right now," Dan tells me.
"It's our in-betweens that are most comical," That Girl remarks to me, wearing a unitard around her ankles and white socks on her feet. She does a little dance.
I can't argue with that. Next time, I'm wearing stilt pads on my knees, a bra, a hat and a thong. I do a little dance.
"Cybbie, I never thought of you in that way before. It's been so.... platonic between us for so long."
Tim stops while we're changing out of stilts. "Hey, Cyb, has Carolyn told you?"
Told me what? No.
"No, I guess she wouldn't have had time. It's about Bonnie. Bonnie Orr died yesterday. I don't have any details. She'd been pretty sick for awhile."
Thank you for telling me.
Tim is wrong. It's not his fault. But I'm extremely glad that he is, because that means I can call and talk to Bonnie, just like everyone else who got the wrong information is going to do.
A man has hunkered down to talk to That Girl. "Hey, good talking to you, see you on site." He leaves.
Who is that?
"You know what, I don't even know his name."
Okay, but who IS he?
"Some vendor guy. I play tic-tac-toe with him."
Oh. On stilts, right?
"Yup. Don't you play tic-tac-toe?"
I used to.
With Bill. It was my special thing with Bill. So I think I'll probably never play tic-tac-toe anymore.
"Oh." She digests this. "Well, I'm glad you taught me to play."
I doubt very much that I taught you to play tic-tac-toe.
"You know what I mean."
Of all friends that remain dead, Bill's still my favorite.
(Baby, You're A Rich Man; The Beatles)