31 October, 2006

Love Stinks

...ooh, ooh, that smell/ can't you smell that smell?....

"Zo, Zeabelle, you haf a vaterbed, and ve are sleeping downstairs? Vhen ve gonna get an invite?"

Well, Hilby, last time I checked, neither of you have the right equipment to be invited to my bed.

"Oh, you haf not heard ze rumors about my equipment, I guess. Zey are all true." He waggles his eyebrows. Martin, stuffing in eggs, remains silent.

No, no, Hilby- I've smelled you coming in from a long drive. I've smelled you after a hard, hot day of performing. I've smelled each of you fresh from the shower. Neither one of you ever has even the faintest hint of diesel about you.

Martin snickers.

"Zo, you turned on by diesel fumes, uh?"

It's a conditioned response.

(That Smell; Lynryd Skynrd)

28 October, 2006

Bite Me

...you are here and warm/but I could look away and you'd be gone....

So the faire is over, which means I have to find something else to write about. Those of you who are not Festival-oriented are relieved, and those of you who are can go back to not reading until next August.

(No, I don't have a contract. But after two decades of planning my life around these several weekends, and kudos from the man who signs my paycheck, I'm reasonably certain that my delightful captivity will continue.)

While I regroup, ask yourself:

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

My only problem with this designation is the pouting. I don't pout. Children pout. I am an adult.

Adults sulk.

(Sentimental Lady; Fleetwood Mac)

25 October, 2006

A Wrap

...gonna treat you/ Like the queen you are/ Bring you sweet things/ From my candy jar....

Light breeze lifts our white cloaks, our shimmery organzas, creating billows of floating motion. A path of fallen leaves stretches like a golden runner in front of us as we process. I wonder if this is the last time we process together, this group. Next year, I think, will be different. It always is.

A child looks in awe. "She's been doing this a long time," says the woman with her. "When your daddy was little, she...." I do not hear the rest of the sentence. This is a good thing, perhaps.

Paul brings chocolate raspberry brownies. They are too rich for eating more than one tiny bite at a time. Thank you, Paul. We gorge ourselves on Scotch eggs, brownies and fruit. Gigi taps a pear, asks a question with her eyebrows. It is a special pear, harder, sharper, large as an apple. I stretch my eyes with my fingertips. After one moment of horrified shock followed by one of amused comprehension, she rolls around in silent laughter. I shrug and crunch another bite of my Asian pear.

Isabelle Glass is back, and That Girl and I return for a second, smaller, forray. Lust delayed, fulfilled, assuaged, relents.

"I've got a name in the blog," gloats the Mome Rath. "I'm in the blog," responds the gloatee. "Yeah, but I've got a name."

The organist has painted a portrait of the four of us, oil on canvas, and I am touched beyond words. I cannot hug her as I'd like to: I haven't powdered yet and my makeup will smear all over her Redskins shirt. If you pray, pray for her. Her health is poor, and since Ken and Bill and Jim have departed permanantly, leaving holes in my heart, I worry.

Firehorse makes accuses me of littering. "Choose your punishment! Do you prefer public humiliation, or branding?" I make my choice not based on personal preference, or character integrity, but on which is funnier to communicate physically. I lick my finger and touch the air with a sizzling sound. "Branding it is!" He brands me with a red stamp. "I don't have an L for littering, so you'll have to have a P for piracy."

At the front gate, I slip on slick ground and go down hard on my knees- the stilt has betrayed me. I am irritated at the interruption, bruised by the landing, unperturbed at the embarassment (Martin goes down all the time, often deliberately) encouraged by the positive reaction to my assisted stand-up, and most upset that my trousers are dirty for the rest of the day. Ah, vanity.

I watch my associates, the ones I created literally and the figurative one, smiling. Fluffy stays with us for our entire stilt-walk, leaving only when we peel off to O'Shucks to swipe swigs of beer. We swipe so much beer, hard tea, and meade that it seems like a good idea to get off stilts and go to the wine garden for more swipeage. Two wine-sodden superhero-booted spandex-clad clowns slither and saunter, slightly sloshed, back to MimeCamp.

I have made friends with three (young, attractive) musicians from Montreal. They sit in our camp chairs, relaxing between sets, murmuring sensual sounds, though they might be talking about replacing brake shoes for all I am following. I describe something, cursing, then ask them to pardon my French, which they are speaking. One of them tells me that even in French, one says ‘excuse my French’, rather than ‘Pardon my American.’ I wonder if he is pulling my leg. I wonder what ‘pulling my leg’ is in French. Hilby trots into mime camp for something or other, saying "excusez moi s'il vous plait, you beeg fat bott eas een my vay."

Hilby and Martin take us to Sputnik for a treat- they have gone on and ON about this resaturant. The food lives up to their accolades and we exit stuffed and satisfied, with a new favorite place to eat.

"It's the last weekend," my mother qualifies. "Do you get to play with the patrons?"

Mom. That's my job description.

"I mean, I guess, do you get to be outrageous since it is the final two days?"

Mom. I could hardly BE more outrageous, unless I were to strip naked, and it is just not the weather for that.

I am informed that someone with whom I've had an ambivalent relationship may or may not be returning next year. Ambivalent again, I am not sure how I feel about this, at the same time wondering whether it will affect my life, performance, art, in the slightest, and then deciding that that’s enough mental energy to devote to this subject. And yet, in this moment of writing, I break my promise to myself. And if I edit this paragraph later, I’ve broken it twice.

The weather is wonderful, the crowd oddly subdued. It is the Day Of Wrong. I watch the crowd, clad in tie dye, in drag, as Storm Troopers, less impressed by wrongness than in previous years. I notice fewer Designated Patrons celebrating our final day of the season than I expect. Perhaps they are all in one of the pubs.

After stilts, we head out for a serious Renaissance Retail Experience. The Bee Folk for honey, candles and soap; the Fairie Booth to pick up Trixie our pixie, freshly repaired; Page After Page for books and sealing wax; the giant slide, just for fun- and as an efficient way to get down the hill; Holy Cow to look at pocketbooks; passing by Half Moon Travel Cloaks, who stubbornly refuse to create a warm wool cloak in Mimi-pink; High Point Crafts to look at fans and dusters, ultimately buying a (what?) walking stick (my ankle has barked at me all day, probably specifically to cajole me into making this elderly purchase); Blessed Scents for more soap; Bull's Eye for a bag made of cowhide shaped like a mouse which we do not find and buy instead the skin of an ermine, which the baby girl names Herman, then Thurmon, and carries with her everywhere; Souveniers in a vain attempt to find a 2006 coffee mug, coming away with a MRF logo T-shirt so my son can stop playing Marlon Brando/James Dean in his white T-shirts jeans and leather jacket; and finally, Steak 2 for a final serving of curly fries.

If I had forethought enough, I would have filled a cooler with frozen chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, of which I had (only!) two this season, and in fact I did think of it and rejected the idea as a bad one after the scale reported that I had not lost a pound, no not even one, over the run of the Faire.

Crooked Finger Man finds me, gets my address, promises to send something. I kiss him goodbye, aware that it could be for the last time. "I have loved you these many years, my lady," he says again. And I, you, sweetheart.

I wipe my daughter's makeup from her face, drying her tears at the same time. She articulates my grief for me. "Here, everybody treats us like we are special and they love us so much and now we have to go back to being our regular selves."

Don't I know it, darling.

I relate this to the boys later, my husband included." Ahh, zhe angst of zhe clouwn," Hilby sympathizes. "So you tell her she eas special and she haahs so many peeople who loves her as herself."

Sure I told her that.

There is a pause. We twinkle at one another for a moment.

I mean, it's bullshit, but I told her.

Hilby snickers. "Jah, ov course, eat's so totally boollsheet."

So totally bullshit. My specialty.

(Wrap It Up; The Fabulous Thunderbirds)

18 October, 2006

Alternate Viewpoints

...Blue morning, blue day, won't you see things my way?....

The day is grey again- I hate this weather, not because I hate what the weather is, but because I hate what it does to me. A mere two rainy days in a row can throw me into a blue funk that lasts until the sun comes back, which sometimes takes a week or more. I hate to be that fragile, but there it is. I expect the red bra and pants I don under my black clothes will make me feel better. Disappointingly, they don’t.

Isn't that funny, though? The weather itself doesn't bug me: it's what the weather does to me.

Because it's all about me, isn't it? Except when it's not.

Depressive weather requires a different perspective on intimate topics. Here, I find the 'she-said' version of my affectionate assault of an unsuspecting teen.

Monday October 2 2006

Mom had given me a little note thing to give to one of her old friends, Cybele, a mime. Her picture was in the flyer that had been sent in the mail, so I knew what mimes to look out for. So while we were eating, I saw them, & ran up, asking which of them was Mrs. Cybele. The other lady pointed, & I said I had something from my mom. She took the little thing, saw mom's name, & her mouth dropped. Then she gave me the biggest, firmest hug ever.

Being a mime, she of course couldn’t speak, but it definitely seemed an "oh em gee" moment.She looked like she was going to cry. She kissed me on the cheeks & hugged me again, & pressed her hand over her heart, blinking rapidly. She pulled me back & looked me up & down, & bowed as saying 'thank you." I bowed back. One of the other mimes had wandered off, probably thinking, "Awkward!" Mrs. Cybele whistled & stamped her foot & he came back. She put a hand on his shoulder & on the head of the littlest mime, then pressed a hand over her heart. (Now that I think of it, they must've felt awkward, like, "Mom... are you ok...?") I asked if they wanted me to take their picture, & they nodded. Janna had come up behind me, & we said goodbye. They waved & took hold of each other's long hats once more & moved off. Janna commented on how we had gotten quiet, too. It just feels odd talking to a mime; it feels like you ought to communicate silently, too.

And a patron I did not meet makes no mention of me, but gives an excruciatingly detailed account of waiting in traffic; here he is, lads and ladies, Hotspur.

After being directed to park in the back forty (and literally, this WAS the back forty-- I heard they shut the gates on Sunday because the parking lot got full up), we trudged for what seems like forever to get into the faire. Drey had tickets for us.. Huzzzah! I essayed, feebly! The first thing you notice about the Ren Faire is people. People in funny outfits. Tourists, milling about. In vast numbers.

And again. This time, with stilty-mimey folk.

Vast numbers? Pfah, you have no idea. This past Saturday, 25,000 people and then some enter our gates, form long lines for food, and fill the joust arena to capacity. That's vast numbers.

It was cold, too! We are glad of our two cloaks apiece, for sure, and take every opportunity to sit in the sun. Around about two-thirty, finally, after my second hour on stilts, I break my first sweat of the day.

From AutumnCat’s photo site:

the Mime Smooch

Thank you for the kind comments, but actually, the makeup makes me beautiful. WIthout it, I am pedestrian, mundane, uninteresting and common.

Here’s one of my baby Lili, which might be better, even, in black and white.

Another sweet one of Lili and a bubble, and one of the white and gold, just me.

"You're not chopped liver," he says, and hands me a white rose emblazoned with my face. He calls himself the White Dragon, but this seems like the sweet gesture of a white knight.

A young woman seeks me out, finds me because I am not only bright pink, but nearly nine feet tall. "You held my oldest daughter, and we got a picture. This," she says, indicating the baby she holds, "is my new daughter. Would you hold her so we can get another picture?" I nod agreement. "You won't run off with her, will you?" She laughs.

Are you kidding? After a challenge like that? Of course I will. After she snaps the shot, I turn the baby sideways under one arm and take three swift strides in the opposite direction, to the delight of the crowd.

"Give back my baby!" she cries, running after me. "Oh, please, give back my baby!" There is real distress in her voice. Well, lady, you gave her to me. I demand a kiss from her, and hand over the pink-clad oblivious mass of flesh. This is not that baby, but it’s a good shot, again from David Davidson.

A patron wants to pay me to teach her clown makeup technique, which I will do, if she insists. I guess when you’ve done it twenty years or more, it’s easy, and when you’ve never ever done it, it’s not.

Hilby has remembered his face cream this time, but left a hairbrush and a razor. I’m sure I ll find traces of ‘the boys’ for weeks and months to come.

A strange sort of consolation prize after they’ve gone for the season. Which ends after this weekend.

Two more days... I'll pack in my joy, before I pack up my Joy, my powder, my kneepads...

(Blue Morning, Blue Day; Foreigner)

16 October, 2006

Underneath Everything

...I wanna be your t-shirt when it's wet/ I wanna be the shower when you sweat....

She stares critically at my chest for a moment, then reaches into my bra and rearranges me. I stand, patient as a horse with a farrier, while she does this.

You'd expect this, maybe, of a bra saleswoman in a shop dressing room. It's Coco. We're in the office at the Center. Mr. J. stares, laughs. The new tech, not loquacious to begin with, is stunned to literal open-mouthed silence.

I realize suddenly that this seems odd public behavior to anyone who doesn't know us well.

Mr. J. attempts explanationtion. "They've been in theatre so long, you know."

Coco, undisturbed, regards my newly-fluffed bosom.

Is it better?

"Better. Before, you just looked.... squashed."

Well.... thanks.


My sister is about to pull away. I stand in the drive, the sun on me.


"Hey, what?"

Can you see my underwear?

She studies me, squinting.


How about now?

I tug down the side of my knit yoga trousers and flash her my lacy panties.

"You are so weird." She shakes her head and drives off.


He regards a flimsy object in my car. "Is that .... underwear?" A fair question. It could be.

Sort of. Not really. It's a tube top. For when I'm caught in a T-shirt or something and the sun's out.

He looks confused, disappointed and apprehensive, all at once.

([I Wanna Be] Your Underwear; Bryan Adams)

13 October, 2006

Wake, Shower

...at night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet/a freight train running through the middle of my head....

A roll of sound like a fighter jet circling rumbles into my subconscious, tears a hole in the sky, rips me from sleep.

Soft patter of rain soon follows.

I touch the bed next to me: empty. This is no surprise. The surprise is how accustomed I have become to its emptiness.

I wonder for a moment if I've put the top up. Of course I have. Still, the rear window will leak. Ahhhhh.... I'll worry in the morning.

This explains the aching joints last night. If the weather clears, I'll wake limping again tomorrow, as I have for the past week. If the weather would make up its mind, I could walk normally. When I hurt before I've even left the bed, I'm unmotivated to leave it.

Well, fairly, MORE unmotivated.

But the sun is out now, which my morning limp predicted, and unless I miss my guess, it's Topless Weather today.

(I'm On Fire; Bruce Springsteen)

12 October, 2006

Blog Stalking?

...something tells you that you've got to get away from it....

It has been so wet, the leaves are sullen in their greenness, refusing to change.

"I was stalking your blog," says the Mome Rath, "and I want you to know that I would never think of you as chopped liver." Well... thanks.

My childhood friend Squirrelly appears on site with her family. We see each other once a year, these days, and it's now. I haven't said a word to her in six years. Her eldest daughter and mine hit it off and play nicely together while Squirrelly and I shop for walking sticks, despite the fact that one of them isn't speaking. They demand a play-date. It would be nice to talk to my friend again.

The site is packed. We head out on stilts, Gigi and I, because that is the most effective way to entertain a crowd of this size. And Martin injured himself showing off yesterday, so he's benched for our biggest day ever: 24,761 is the figure I hear afterwards. Patrons have waited up to four hours to enter our village. That Girl finds it amusing to share with me that she has gas, which is unfortunate for the patrons behind her, since our cabooses are roughly face-level. We move quickly through the throng. Leaving the parking lot later proves to be a challenge.

We drive past a sign that used to say BATEMAN FOR SHERRIF in white letters on a dark blue ground. Some wag has blacked out the E in Bateman.

"Let's take the long and stupid way home, Mama," Fluffy requests. Okay. The blackglass harbor multiplies sparkling city lights. I drive past my favorite bar, the one I don't visit much (the ones I don't like, I visit never) and wonder if my friends are inside. Fuzzy is asleep on her brother's shoulder. When we reach the end of Key Highway, I ask Fluff if this is long and stupid enough.

"Yeah," he replies. "Let's go home."

It occurs to me that because they are with me, I am home already. The house is just a final destination.

(Our House; Talking Heads)

05 October, 2006

One Thing...

...you've seen your name on the walls/ And when one little bump leads to shock miss a beat/ You run for cover and there's heat, why don't they/ Do what they say, say what they mean....

"Hey, Mama. Like my in-between?"

Fluffy's wearing a gold hat, white makeup, a wifebeater, tighty-whiteys, white knee socks and gold shoes.

Lovely. Just....lovely.


He describes a fun street bit involving pillows and another actor, and some sneaking.

But could you... would there be a way to, to give a pillow to a patron?

"And make the patron part of the re-enactment?"

Right, and let the patron whack away at you with the pillow, which they will, because they don't really want to hurt you. Or two patrons, even.

"Give the patron a pillow. Brilliant! That's brilliant."

I thought it was street performing, but I'm happy to be brilliant. Anything for you, JohnBoy.


A rose-seller brings a rose to Gigi, hands it to her with a sweet smile.

I'm sure I frown.

She catches my expression, and laughs silently at me. She makes a karate chop with her hand, then starts feeling her torso, trying to remember the location of her organs. She mouths "liver" at me.

I sigh, and show her the spot below the rib cage on the right side. I make short chopping motions with my hand over it. She kicks her feet, convulsed with inaudible giggles.


"Which one of you is Syb...Sigh... Cybele?" All other white panto clowns point to me. We are exiting lunch. A young lady has accosted us.

"I have a note for you."

She's in garb. Who is sending me a note? An admirer? Hmmm? Where's my rose, then?

"It's from my mom. She used to be Kate? She turned into a hermit after she had kids." She hands me a folded paper, with "Cyb" on the outside and an e-dress on the inside.

In an instant, this young lady is much more beautiful than she was a moment before, because I can see traces of my dear friend all around her face. The unsuspecting teenager is grabbed most enthusiastically and hugged and kissed most thoroughly. She is most tolerant of this treatment, knowing she is a surrogate.

Here I am, still, waiting for you to find me.


"Hey, there you are!"

It's Rufus Rutabega! and the SeaLion! I don't remember what we called the sea lion. My first favorite young juggler, who could juggle seven clubs, but only with his mouth wide open. Hot damn! How many years has it been?

"Jim told me where to find you."

Really? How did he know? But here you are! He finds a pen. He's local again, he says. We exchange info. Huzzah! We'll have beer together. Or with our respective kids, ice cream. Wow! You show up after all these years!

And here I am, still, waiting for you to find me.


Coco calls. There has been a fire.

'But here's the funny part, because you know there's always a funny part."

Like Nanny's teeth?

"Yes, like Nanny's teeth."

At her husband's funeral, Nanny went out without her teeth. One of the grandkids brought them, in their little wet plastic case, to the funeral home. Nanny didn't feel like putting them in, after all. Coco got to hold them. She went to the lobby and put them in her jacket pocket. Later, she remembered she didn't wear her jacket today, and fetched them out of the pocket of a jacket that looked like, but wasn't, hers. She put them in the car. After the bit in the funeral home, there was the bit at the cemetary, where the jacket's owner was wearing it. Coco went to him and told him "a funny story."

"Ah," he said. "I wondered why my pocket was wet."

So what's it this time?

"You know that dog she's got, with the same name as my husband? That's so old and untrained and fat..."

And shits under the piano?

"That one. Well, that dog was dead. He was dead of smoke inhalation. Dead. Just- dead."

That sounds like a good thing.

"Well, but the goddamn paramedics gave the stupid dog mouth-to-mouth, and then took it to the animal hospital!"

Oh. And him with no piano to shit under now. What kind of a life will that be?


"So, what, do I have to complain to get a mention?" asks Firehorse. Well, no. But it helps sometimes.


Three weekends remain. Here I am, still, waiting for you to find me.

(One Thing Leads To Another; The Fixx)

04 October, 2006

August Heat

...I don’t know the answer to that question/ Where’s the look? if I knew I would tell you....

I'm not a big fan of the space/time continum.

That is to say, I question its validity.

My knees tell me that I am old, but I don't believe it. My face doesn't show it. Only the ages of my children give me away.

And on a day like today, when I am topless, footloose and panty-free, with the sun gleaming on my shoulders, I wonder whether I can give creedence to the concept of a mono-directional timeline.

The calander says October. I seem to still be in Baltimore.

It's fishy, is all I'm saying.

(The Look of Love; ABC)