...Where have all the good men gone/ and where are all the gods?/ where's the street-wise Hercules/ to fight the rising odds?....
The air is clear and cool. Mist hangs over the parking lot. It looks like a good day.
The grounds, still spongy from last weekend's downpour, give us a bit of trouble. In our morning procession, I step with my left and sink- deep, deep- then step with my right, expecting to pull free.
I do not pull free.
I tug on the swath of organza that connects me to my daughter, then pull on the elastics and fling the fabric away from myself.
If I go down, I'm going alone.
I manage to pull the right stilt free, and beckon (with no little urgency) to a patron who has been paying attention while I use the right stilt to balance and feel for a solid spot. The man comes to my side, plants his feet firmly and extends a strong arm for me to use to lever myself out of the mire.
I yank my left stilt with a hip-jolting pull, and bow to my hero. His friends applaud him, and he bows back. A kind, observant woman picks up the trailing organza and hands it to me as I hurry to catch my compatriots. They've gotten maybe ten yards. I reassemble, and the front two have no idea of my brief panic.
I later discover nine inches of mud on the bottom of my stilt.
The day goes smoothly. We are merry and bright, which is the extent of our job description. A translucent redhead at the top of the joust-bowl looks at me expectantly. She has a small baby in her arms. The top of the list is slippery with unanchored dust, and none too flat, but she hasn't thought of that. I hold out my hands, and she passes him up. Her companions do not object. They seem to not even have a camera.
We are stilted up a long time. When more than 20 thousand guests arrive, we like to make ALL of them happy. Plus it takes awhile to wade through them. We're nearing home base, and a family of costumed patrons grins at us. She holds a small boy in green satin leiderhosen. We grin back. "You want him?" she asks. Well, no. Okay, yes. What, you folk don't have a camera, either? Are you kidding me? Can someone answer me this, why would you hand your kid to a stiltwalker if you didn't want a picture of the event? Sigh.
We lurk over to the tall rail at O'Shucks pub and hang out with some folk who become our friends forever, and buy us beers and oyster shooters. We walk a straight line, then run away to shed our long legs. Mimic and I head out for a bite to eat, happy to be there, happy to be anywhere.
And then the photographer shows up.
Now, we love photographers. We will pose all day for a busload of photogs with lenses worth more than both our cars together. We like little kids with paper box cameras. Camcorders do not offend us, though it's increasingly hard to tell which cameras are 'cording. Okay, your cellphone camera: we have little respect for this, especially if you don't know how it works. Sorry, lady... not posing and re-posing while you learn to use it. But still. People with cameras make us look beautiful. We love them.
Now, this fellow (I use 'fellow' with a deep and rare awareness of insufficient vocabulary) pretended he was not photographing us.
Usually, I am happy to pretend to not be posing while a photog in search of a candid pretends to not be shooting. Understand this: over the years, I've learned that EVERY motion, EVERY expression, must be deliberate and chosen for the moment.
This, this fellow followed us around. I heard repeated clicking of his shutter button. When we turned to smile at him, he turned away and pretended he hadn't been shooting. He followed us for a full five minutes, shooting and trying to pretend he hadn't been.
He never lifted his camera to his face. It remained hung around his neck, lens at belly level. He was shooting our asses.
If it had been one shot, and the guy had grinned and waved after being caught at it, I wouldn't've minded being shot in the ass.
This is creepy, and makes me angry. I find Columbina nearby chatting with some fancy patrons, and complain to her, (refreshing to have a conversation with someone who does NOT sigh "Oh, dear, I'm bad at charades- I have no idea what you're trying to say"), and she informs me that Mr. Creepy Fellow has been spotted following teen-ish girls, doing the same thing, and yes, it was creepy. (I make the 'creepy' face, and she knows). I wish I had it in me to laugh and feel flattered. She promises to keep her eye out for him, and I have more than half a mind to find security, but by this time I've lost him in the crowd.
Suddenly, I have no appetite. Mimic chooses an ice cream, and we return to camp. As we clean up and put away the stilts, I tell her again the story of the morning hero. I know she's heard it. She knows I know.
She knows why I tell it again.
Two days left, and the '08 season is over.
(Holding Out For A Hero; Bonnie Tyler)