1. Friday (5/27/05)
I’m supposed to be doing laundry and packing for my road trip to the Alma Highland Festival. Instead, I take a disco nap before meeting Jacinda & Joe and Andrew & Rozi at the Double Door. I could have also gone to Rob’s drinks party. But alas, I didn’t have time between napping and, well, napping. Had a good time at the bar, though I didn’t stick around long enough to see the J. Davis Trio take the stage. We were celebrating Rozi’s birthday a few days early, but the band didn’t seem to care. I left at midnight as Rozi was losing the war against sleepiness.
2. alma, pt. 1 (5/28/05)
I almost didn’t bring it. The CPAP, I mean. I stood in my living room looking at the CPAP in its carrying case. I didn’t relish the idea of sharing a room with 5 pals where I had to look like Darth Vader while I slept, but I had no choice. Don’t take it, snore, and keep everybody awake. Take it and look like an asshole. Don’t take it, and sleep in the rental car.
I decided to take it.
Khloe and Jeff collected me just before 8am, we zipped up Damen Avenue to get Jeremy and Helen, then off we were down Lake Shore Drive. As the only person who didn’t know how to drive, I played navigator and handled the maps. Jeremy handed around fruit salad which we munched for breakfast while we listened to the mix CDs that Khloe made. Jeff drove, and we stopped only twice. Once to pee at a rather sad little rest stop in Indiana (or was it Michigan?) then again on the outskirts of Alma where we bought water, cheese popcorn, and gas for the car. We didn’t have specific directions to our hotel, so we ate the ham and brie sandwiches that Khloe packed and considered the bright Michigan sunshine.
After driving through Alma not once but twice, we found the hotel. Conveniently located across the road from a Wal-Mart and down the way from the Ponderosa Steakhouse, both of which will be important later. The hotel is a Days Inn — indoor heated pool, cable television, ‘continental’ breakfast. Two double beds, rollaway cot for me, a Bible in the nightstand and a newsletter with program information for the 38th Annual Alma Highlands Festival. Oh boy.
Driving over to the festival, I see a lot of pasty white knees winking at me from under fluttery kilts. Dimpled, bony, arthritic — they’re all wholly unique and adorable, like snowflakes. Though some of those snowflakes are hairy. We find our pal Tim at the beer tent, where I take a few snaps of him in his uniform. We missed his band compete that day, but there is another circle Sunday afternoon that we can catch before we drive back to Chicago. While Tim and Jeremy hang out, us girls and Jeff hit the mini-midway in search of food. Somehow, I manage to resist eating a Dutch fatball. I couldn’t resist a Scottish meat pie with HP sauce — delicious.
I don’t think I need to tell you that in the background is the sound of bagpipes and drums. Everywhere I go — to the field with the clan tents, the football field for the highland dance competitions, the paddock where the sheep nibbled grass. And I really enjoyed it. First of all, all that breathing and pumping and, oh yeah, playing? Looks really hard to manage. The drums have to keep a steady beat. So the fact that the musicians in this band can do this, at the same tempo and while marching in slow steady processions, is amazing to me. I find the band practices and performances the most exciting part of the afternoon. Well, that and the costumes.
You can’t go to a bagpiping festival and not expect to see kilts. Kilts on men, women, and children. Kilts for sale in stands and on tables. Kilts of wool, wool, and wool. Kilts in tartans of red and blue and yellow and green. Kilts unfolding, accordion-like, over arses great and small. It is a rich pageant.
We catch the massed bands performance at 5:30, then drive to Wal-Mart to pick up bathing suits. I gamely tried on the plus-sized bathing suits until I faced facts: I looked like a toddler. Correction: I looked like myself as a toddler wearing a bathing suit. Look at the picture at the following URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasmine/3847933/. My body is still the same shape. So I get a black stretchy camisole with a built-in bra and a pair of men’s trunks. So comfy, and I had a great time goofing around in the pool — practicing my crawl, trying to do handstands, floating on my back and considering the indoor pool’s peaked roof.
After swimming, we all shower and change into fresh clothes for dinner. Jeff and Jeremy were interested in finding a cool local spot, but no such place seemed to exist. Or if it did, it was probably closed. So dinner was top sirloin, fried shrimp, and the bounty of the buffet bar: salisbury steak. Chili. A full (if anemic-looking) salad bar. Soup which looked like gravy, and gravy that looked like mud. The beef and vegetable soup was okay. I enjoyed my dinner okay, but I have to confess that I was a bit distracted by a couple and their baby at the next table, all sporting matching mullets. Say it with me kids: EW. Post-dinner, we headed over to campus with a 6-pack to find Tim and his girlfriend Jen. We never found Tim or Jen, but enjoyed a few beers with members of his band before turning in early. And PS: nobody said anything about the CPAP, though Khloe did want to take a picture of me wearing it.
In the next flip front: goodbye, Alma; Dan’s BBBQ (the extra B is for BYOBB); weight-loss; Dr. R (the needle and the damage done); Winnie the Pooh almost gets stuck in the MRI.
Me: “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met.”
Jacinda: “No, a stranger is somebody I haven’t judged yet.”
The Buzzcocks – Love You More; David Bowie – Jean Genie
http://www.okinawa.pac.dodea.edu/schools/Bhps/index.htm (my elementary school has a super-cute web site)