Thank You Richie Simmons, Fun Day (Life on the Mountain), Frito Boats and Other New Experiences
All I know is whenever I am feeling sad or alone, I can count on the tail end of Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” All the big “losers” get to dance down two rows of other fatties Soul Train-style and shake their shit! It is freakin amazing!!!! I laugh so hard I almost pee, and sometimes I think I do pee. Just a little. I inherited this crummy old VHS tape from my good pal Margs back in the Beauty Store days. We put it on one day after the store was closed and I think we followed the workout a bit and it actually makes you sweat up a dang old storm. There’s this one super hairy gay guy who does this classic gay dance club move and every time I see him, I have to say “heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey” (in my best queeny voice) and mimic the move. It’s almost an OCD-type of compulsion.
I thought a lot about Richard Simmons and the giggly Soul Train line this weekend when Mar, Marcus and I headed to Shingletown, CA for its annual Fun Day. It really forced me to confront some of my fears. I also periodically experienced out-of-body sensations. But first things first. We stayed with Mario’s parents in a nice little trailer on their huge property. It was so nice to have a bed waiting after our treacherous journey through hot, smelly, tweaker-filled Lake County. We did stop at the Iron Skillet, a known trucker stop complete with showers and laundry, for midnight chicken fried steak, but still…the trip was difficult. I’m ready to dive into bed when I see that country-type bedding. It was a cute quilt with beavers and deer on it and trout, but I always associate these things with extreme dust and I can’t be having dust. Dust kills me. So I tried sleeping on the covers and that seemed dumb and them I slept under them and then I was fine and they even proved to be my saving grace from one of my hugest fears.
Bugs. And I’m not talking any stupid bug, I’m talking angry, hurtful yellowjackets that want nothing more than to bite and sting the shit out of you. I woke up to the angry buzz of one who looked like he was caught in the skylight screen inches above my damn head. I buried myself under the beaver quilt (which I am sure is some kind of innuendo) and suddenly it stopped. I was for sure he was on the bed with me. I laid there petrified as hell, wishing I had gotten up early to see the Civil War reenactment that supposedly started at 6 a.m. But no…I needed sleep. And now this. Awful. Well, as it turned out, it was actually on the outside of the skylight screen, so no matter.
My uncle Mel is always calling us city kids and yadda yadda, you guys are wimps. It’s true. I can’t even deny it. But maybe if I had gone to Cal Poly and learned how to castrate baby goats with my teeth I might be a little more rugged. Mel said some girl in his class decided to volunteer for the demo but no one told her it might be kind of messy with braces. Yikes.
Fun Day really sort of exposed me to a number of things I have never encountered before. I know that for breakfast I ate a Frito boat which was chili con carne with beans and loads of shredded cheese on a nice bountiful bed of corn chips. I felt so wrong about it, so I gave half away. I saw a clown in a wheelchair which, if you can believe it, made the clown even creepier. I don’t think he was asked to come either—he just sort of thought it’d be great fun to show up and wheel around scaring little tow-headed kids all day.
I saw a freakin’ Civil War re-enactment—again something I have no familiarity with. They take it very seriously. They stay in character pretty well and marched around in formation. They fired loads of big guns and cannons and charge at each other. At the 11 a.m. show the South won. The emcee was trying to pump people up and actually said, “Now, who wants the North to win?” A few cheers. And then, much more enthusiastically, “NOW, WHO WANTS THE SOUTH TO WIN?! LET ME HEAR A REBEL YELL!” I guess, to be fair, the North had to win at the 2 p.m. show. Of course during that show, some kid fell into a manzanita bush and pierced his kneecap and the ambulance came a 15 medics tried to help him and so the North’s win was kind of a gyp.
Aside from that entertainment, there was a men’s glee club, a four-woman troop of line dancers sans any semblance of rhythm, some fiddley-folky type of band, and some greasy old country singer who used to play with Merle Haggard. He was good. He really wanted booze though, and he talked about drinking between just about every song. He played a lot of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson covers with his little drum machine accompaniment, and for his entire 45 minute set this retarded guy stood right up front clapping and cheering by himself. He even jammed on the air harmonica. My day was complete.
After this hot dusty day (and after I had to flick a freakishly huge tree-eating beetle off my arm) I headed back to the trailer to take a well-deserved shower and wouldn’t you know—it didn’t work. It forced me to squat and take a cold bird bath which was humiliating and impractical so I finished the job with some wet naps and sighed and chalked this all up to it not being the best of situations. But at least I was with Mar and we had fun and gas together.