The Always a Bridesmaid Tour - Part 2
The North Country Fair
"If you load your own wood it warms you twice.
If you blow up your own bed you sleep twice as hard."
Pulled in around 4. Roads kind of muddy. Overcast sky. Checked in and got everyone their passes. Jumped in the Tolan van to help with the gear. Had to take it to The Roxbury stage where we were playing the volunteer party later. We had been to this festival before but not since they moved the site. This one was much bigger and had more of a choose your own adventure feel. Near the abandoned stage there was a fire pit, some trees and no other tents. Looked good to me. Clay worried that it might be 'buggy'. We moved the van and set up the tents when our guffaws abated. The whole festival is held on a swamp so it's pretty 'buggy' everyfuckingwhere you go.
So me, Sylvia, Clay and Goose in tents. Tolan and Hoff in the van. Done. I thought maybe the whole gang would camp together but that would have made consensus impossible. This way we could visit each other. I was feeling like maybe I should go kiss some hands and shake some babies and see how everyone else was fairing so I cut a deal with The Goose. I'd bring back ice if he'd set up my tent.
Found the Honeys first. Near Dave and Laura. J. and Grayson were further in the woods. Garth was somewhere close. They were all like, "Oh. You guys are way over there?" I told them what happened. How we know you're never supposed to buy the first place you look at but Tolan had just fallen in LOVE with the area so we bought! Since I'll probably never own anything it was a pretty fun game.
Almost instantly someone started the bogus rumour that the Roxbury hosted the all night DJ stage and boy were we going to be sorry! Turned out not to be true but it totally kept the property value down and potential neighbours away! Found Lily and Emma out in a field with all the punters. Hank had my wine but had left them to come find me. The girls were cranky and just when they finished setting up their tent, two Eager Volunteers came over and told them that they were in the handicapped area and had to move! I piped up and said that they had to be near the mainstage because they were performers and had elaborate costume changes so the eager volunteers backed off. Plus you'd have to be basically retarded to be a musician in Canada, especially from a financial point of view, which should count for something. But come on! The HANDICAPPED AREA! We were in a fucking swamp!
Walked over with Lily to Camp Tolan. She said she kept spilling her wine as she walked. "You're complaints are my wishes!" I hissed through clenched teeth as I had yet to hook up with Hank. Apparently while I was out hobnobbing, the Roxbury stage emcee, respendent in Tilley hat and satin kimono, had come over to yell at everyone about why we hadn't started playing. So glad to have missed that for once. I guess he was getting hassled by this "Professional Band from The City" itching to get their blues on. Went and smoothed things over. Me and Mr. Kimono made up over some home made apple brandy.
Totally forgot about how North we were and the whole longest day of the year thing. No wonder they were looking for us. It was still daylight but it was like 2 am! I think we were all under the illusion that it was perpetually 9 o'clock. We played and played until dawn until even the most eager volunteers packed it in. It was raining really hard out there so mostly we knew if we stayed on stage we would be covered. Amy smoked some local pot and played two songs at half-speed before Mandrew carted her off to bed.
Oh the mosquitos.
"Come for the drizzle. Stay for the malaria!"
Woke up in a tent. Raining outside. Not too bad inside. Kind of nice to lay there listening to the rain on the nylon. Rolled over and touched something soft and wet. Remembered Amy shoving a plate of wet eggs through the zipper at the crack of Christ bless her. A trip to the outhouse, some coffee, a little breakfast and straight into the badminton. It's the only answer in such conditions.
Got ready for our show in Gwynneth's sideview mirror. Hoff and I put on floor length drag-in-the-mud polyester cotillion dresses and blue eyeshadow in honour of the alleged Always a Bridesmaid theme. Got word that they were waiting for an important piece of gear up at the main stage and that the start time would be delayed. Killed time by trying to strum and juggle two ukeleles while hula hooping. We can do it but it ain't pretty. Yet.
The North Country Fair is the perfect way to learn the There's Nobody in Charge zen lesson. I thought it was hilarious. No questions can be answered here.
"What time is the show?"
"When it starts."
"How long do we have?"
"However long we get."
Of course it can kind of ruin you for the way the rest of the world works. But still, it was the perfect practicum to accompany this week's lesson plan. It would have KILLED The Ontarians.
Dozens rejoiced (mostly ourselves) when we eventually played 4 1/2 hours behind schedule. Got cut off before Dave Lang got to play which totally sucks because there is a History of this sort of thing happening which could totally look like it's my fault. Ah, the tender areas always get poked the most.
Wine, rain, mosquitos, Chad Van Gaillen, Noises From the Toolshed boys, Tippy A Gogo freakin', another show in a tent with everybody. We were filthy drunken pirates. Think we scared some folks off but come on how much can we take? I think the mosquito poison coursing through our veins was making us mean. My editor Hank said he approved of the banter so I'll give us a passing grade. Went to see Greyhound Tragedy on the main stage but it was too late. By about nine years.
Back to Camp Tolan where Hoff was trying to talk Our Hero out of putting all the antique fireworks into the fire at once. "Aw baby, there's better ways to hurt yourself."
Clay's tent washed away and he was wondering if he could sleep in mine. I told him I'd even fuck him if he promised to never ask me another question. Stayed up with Tolan until it got light. Stray fireworks exploding in the oil drum every so often.
"If you don't come out of there I'm going to roll up this tent with you in it!"
Sylvia had promised to wake me up and here she was. Guess she'd been trying for a while. Had to pack up camp and get to Edmonton in time for the wedding. John Guliak and Christine. And boy were we all looking pretty.
"Everything is not enough and nothing is too much to bear"
This is how they get you. A rented hall filled with family and friends in their Sunday best good smelling with shiny hair, some homemade food, a few humble speeches, the hilarious relatives from Scotland, a portable T.V. at the end of the head table tuned into The Game. I tell you if you find yourself airlifted from Vietnam into this setting exhausted, mosquito bitten to the point of requiring an all-terain razor and about to die of EXPOSURE, settling down starts to seem like a good idea.
I guess every wedding is a cross section of any people anywhere. A powderkeg. Some people are breaking up, some are just getting together, others are a couple years in, the new babies, the older dressed up kids, all the History and who can't sit by whom. And there's something about celebrating someone else's union that tends to amplify your own lack of union. Oh sure I've got the Maintenance Man waiting on me back home but it's not like he'd ever go anywhere with me. Especially not to a wedding. Definitely not his own.
It's funny, even if in real life you don't even believe in the business of alerting the Church and State to your actions, and totally think that weddings are for people who don't get their own show everynight, like I said, when you're tired this shit starts to look real good.
Our country band The Fixin's reunited for the occasion. Never realized before that ALL the songs were the love-gone-wrong drinking-alone-now-that-you've-gone variety which are so nice for a wedding! It was boiling and we were exhausted but it was nice to sing with John again. At the end of the night John thanked me and gave me half a bottle of wine as a 'traveler' for strolling home in the Oilers Idiot Apocolypse.
The Oilers won so people were in a mood to celebrate. "Goilers!" It made me think of SXSW or Calgary at last call or Kilkenny, Ireland. You get this depressing wave of "Ohwow. Those idiots are gonna fuck those other idiots and make more idiots." And then a second even more depressing wave that someone's got to keep the species going and if it was left up to me there'd be just dying herds of smug non-participators roaming around snorting with disaproval at everyone else's joy, which is awful. Are we all one? Should we try to be? I don't know anymore.
Thought long and hard about it and decided to keep my nest in the back of the Honey Wagon. Decided the best thing I could do for everyone was to be happy. I love The Honeys. We have a good time. It's easy. Sure Tolan would miss me but a man is only entitled to one primary caregiver at a time and he had brought The Girlfriend. She and I apparently have different "parenting" styles but that's a whole other wasp's nest. I mean, every woman knows, you don't start the day yelling at your man. You feed him and give him coffee and THEN you yell at him. That way he'll actually hear you!
So I rode with The Honeys and about 50 km's out of Edson the back tire blew. Just as Mandrew was gonna fill it up with his trusty Man Goo we heard a second hissing sound coming from the front of the vehicle and then saw the green smoke. Cracked radiator. Never seen a crack so big. Never actually seen one go on such a 'new' car ('91 Camry). Thing's plastic.
Since it was Alberta, within two seconds all the big dudes in the pick-up trucks with the gas tanks in the back were pulling over to see if we were all right. We borrowed a phone to call CAA and Andrew changed the tire while we waited it out with the black flies. Amy was rolling a spesh when the cop pulled over but he was just checking to see if we were all right. He kind of looked like Dom Delouise. A bear man.
"Hmm. On the bright side, it could be worse. At least it's not raining" said Amy after a while. This would become our mantra for the next few days. After an hour or so, the tow truck came. Luckily he had a bench seat and agreed to take all three of us otherwise one of us would have been left behind on the side of the road. He dropped us in Edson outside the mechanic's but since it was Sunday there was nothing to do but wait until morning.
Found the Odessey Motel. Liked the name because it felt like our journey was reaching Homeric preportions. Sign said "We Sell Sleep". Man said we were really lucky to get a room. Oil crews had booked up everything in town. Got one with a balcony over looking a pile of dirt!
Dinner at Boston Pizza (they have spinach salad) and then stoned hotelivision night. Became obsessed with a Micheal Jackson sensational Behind The Music type tabloid special. Can't quite work out if he's in charge of his own propaganda or not. It's kind of genius.
Been reading loads of Amy's trashy celebrity mags in the car so feel strangely au current on such matters as Bradgelina's African birthing, Britney's struggle with motherhood, Nicole Richie's rocky road to weight gain, etc. The celebs are like dollies for adults. We especially like the "They're Just Like Us!" section.
"They Pump Their Own Gas!"
"They Buy Their Own Smokes!"
"They Beat Their Own Servants!"
Mechanic phoned in the morning. Said it would take "a couple of days" to get the part in from Edmonton. I got out the yellow pages and called around. No one cared except for one guy in Hinton. Rad specialist. Said he could probably fix it. I liked his voice. It didn't sound like he was dead already. Called a second tow truck. Waited in the hotel parking lot for four and a half hours. Apparently Monday is a 'big tow day'. Dude finally showed up but refused to take all three of us so Mandrew had to take the Greyhound. I offered to hitch but they wouldn't let me.
Pulled into Hinton at 4-ish. Rad shop. Small wiry guy. Pony tail. Ball cap. DJ Timewarp t-shirt, bent over giant truck rad with blow torch. Smoking. Didn't want to startle the dude so lurked in the periphery with the tow truck driver until he noticed us. "You made it eh?"
Popped the hood. 'Larry' shook his head muttering the words "plastic" and "Japanese" and something about how some people had recently got fussy about the lead in soldering so the laws changed and it's all fucked now. Said he could get us a new one by morning and put it in for us for way less than the other places. We said yes and went to find another hotel. The Tara Vista. Left a note for Mandrew at the Hinton bus station. And one with Larry in case he didn't see it.
Got beer, wine, hors d'oevres. The Oilers were playing again. Final game of the play-offs. Low pressure system building. Thunder storm broke right when The Oilers lost.
Watched Scary Movie 3 and Scream3. Awesome. There's something about movies in hotel rooms. It's a whole different rating system from real life.
Amy had the quote of the day: We were walking accross the highway to the access road in matching ballet flats on our way to the Hinton bus station to leave the note and she said, "Well sometimes I guess it's more about circumstance than manifestation!"
Amen Sister! Decided that getting somewhere slowly sure beats going nowhere fast.
"Wishes do get granted. But it's up to you to notice."
Picked up the car from Larry who said putting the rad in was fun right up until the end. Paid him in cash and thanked him heartily. What a fucking dude! Okay, NOW can we go to the hot tub?
Sun Peaks Resort.
Just outside Kamloops. Our friend Bob lets us stay there if we're passing through. Tolan and his crew had stopped there Sunday, the Hank and Lily contingent the next night. Now it was our turn motherfuckers! I was supposed to be playing at a songwriter's night in Vancouver but I called the hostess to send my regrets as we were still twelve hours away at noon and the thing started at seven.
Drove and drove and drove all day. Stopped for supplies near Barriere and headed up the mountain to our chalet! It was perfect. We could see the thank you notes from the others still on the counter and The Honeys got the honeymoon suite upstairs and I stayed downstairs and there was laundry and the gorgeous mountains surrounding us. Saw a black fox with a white tipped tail near the golf equipment storage barn. Couldn't get the hot tub really hot but maybe our hearts would have exploded if we had.
"Think of all you miss by staying
Think of all you miss by leaving."
Got up early and went for a hike up the mountain. Wondered if all the other mountains mocked it for selling out. For being too commercial. Was sitting on a ledge contemplating this when a deer flew up and almost landed on me. Guess he was out for his morning walk too, walking up the other side of the mountain and didn't see me when he jumped. I think deer pride themselves on their Constant Vigilance so if you happen to catch one day dreaming, they freak out. He started sproinging around me in circles snorting kind of like a dog does. The circles smaller each time, his hooves getting closer to me. I stood up. This seemed to make him even madder. Just a young buck on an adrenaline rush, mad at being suprised. (Maybe because I was wearing pink?) He kept up with the snorting circles. I was talking to him all the while.
"I know it's your mountain but I'm not one of the bad humans. I was supposed to be a St. Bernard man. Okay Okay I'm going!"
I headed back down the trail and he followed me still snorting to make sure I was leaving. Jeeze. I always wanted to see a deer up close but I never imagined meeting an outraged one. When I saw some pretty fresh bear shit near some big footy prints, I decided that the hills were alive and that my nature walk was over.
Went to the market to get Amy some cream for her coffee and learned that the fox lives in town, has three kits. It's weird to be somewhere offseason. It's like being back stage of a movie that hasn't started yet. Kind of neat to get to see the mountain in all it's different phases. Bob came over for breakfast between golf games and convinced us to stay out one more day to play the Folk Festival party in Salmon Arm with Luther Wright and The Shiftless Rounders. Oh yeah. Music! It had been ages.
We made a should-I-stay-or-should-I-go list of pros and cons which was mostly the same words on both sides of the page and of course decided to stay. Bob got us a deal on a luxury resort hotel in Salmon Arm. Our french doors opened right onto a pair of ospreys nesting over Shuswap Lake. Yup. Not too shabby.
Luther and boys came over for a visit when they pulled into town. "Hello darling. You're mosquito bites have gone down" said Luther, that silver-tongued devil. Yeah the bites. I thought everyone would see the red pinhole marks and welts all over me and think that I was a junky but then wonder how come I was still fat.
So dazzled were we by the opulence and fluffy pillows and the patio sunset that we missed dinner and were a little shaky for the show but I think we pulled it off. I got to play with The Rounders as my band which is always a treat. Patio party after the show. Amy passed around crackers from her pic-a-nic basket and the stoners and the drunks took turns telling Important Stories and worrying about The Noise because everyone knows that habitat is the key to wildlife.
"Where's the channel that tells you what's going on?"
"I don't think there is one."
A few days late and many dollars short, we rolled the Camry down the beautiful old highway 1 throught the desert past Cache Creek to Hope where Amy broke her fast food vow with some Dairy Queen. Made it in time for the last ferry, fearful that one more day out would completely flatten the cushion of hospitality. Since we weren't fighting yet, I thought why ruin a winning streak by sticking around? Phoned Tolan from the ferry to let him know I was coming home in case he was fucking a pork chop on the couch or something to which he replied, "Whadja get one of those new cameraphones?"
Fell asleep on the city bus. Was awoken by the bus driver at the place where they put the busses away at the end of the night. Wiped the drool off the side ofmy face and flagged a cab home. Opened the front door to discover that Tolan was having the boys over to watch "The World at War". Episode six. The Holocaust. Wow. What a home coming. Clay had passed out on the bunk. It appeared that someone had jumped out the window and the lone remaining conscious guy was saying "Does it have to be war everytime?" I knew he'd never be invited back.
Tolan and I shared the last smoke and rehashed our voyages. Sounded like even though my trip was four days longer it might have felt shorter. Any Hell's bearable if you're with kindred spirits. Thank you Honeys. Andrew I still owe you $25 bucks for wine.
You know in the end the car troubles just gave us a couple of days to relax. We like each other so it wasn't a big deal to be kind of stuck. We got to play the party in Salmon Arm and finally made it to the hot tub and I'm home now and learned that sometimes it is more about circumstance than manifestation. The weirdest part is the first tow truck guy said we were the third car he'd picked up there in as many days and we blew a tire at the same time the rad cracked so maybe there's something on the road. Maybe if the tire hadn't have blown we wouldn't have noticed that we were overheating and seized the engine or something. Who the fuck knows? Who cares? It's bigger than all of us. It's what happened.