What I Did This Summer Continued…

IMG_0078Daisy Does Bonnaroo: Bonnascrewed

I sat in the middle of an “El Monte” twenty-something foot RV, with air conditioning feebly attempting to choke the heat from a Middle Tennessee summer day. A base beat thumped in rhythm to my pounding head. After getting evicted from the VIP campsite, we were close to The Who Stage. Or The What Stage. Or What The Hell Was I Thinking Stage. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours, so I might have hallucinated the entire thing. Hallucinations seem to be common at Bonnaroo, but my hallucinations weren’t the happy kind that left me smiling vacantly into space while unicorns danced on the horizon.

Instead, I found myself imagining that the previous 36 or so hours did not encompass reality, but was simply one of those weird dreams where my high school band director morphs into my dad who then becomes my husband before he barks at me and pees on the rug. I may have mentioned this dream before.

I bought a camper. We know this. A 1959 Tour-A-Home canned ham camper that I named Daisy. Boy Child restored Daisy. I started a blog about Daisy. All with the goal that Daisy’s first trip would be to Bonnaroo and like any southern debutante, she would sweep the world off its feet and go home with a full dance card.

Instead, Daisy sat, inches away and perpendicular to the Very Expensive Rental RV that family members named Monte, and wondered why nobody paid her any attention. “Oh Daisy,” I told her. “I’m sorry. But it’s hot inside you. Hotter than the devil’s asshole. Monte’s air conditioning is lame, but yours, honey? Yours is spewing hot air inside you and cold air out. Engineering fail. Plus, Monte has a bathroom.”

The sad truth is that I think maybe Daisy and I are too old for Bonnaroo. I’ve reached that irritating middle-aged stage when I believe that if I pay thousands (yes, it’s embarrassing to admit) of dollars to get my hippie daughter, her hippie friend, my nerdy son and his former girl frand to a music festival, plus hundreds of dollars extra for the VIP package then I will get, well, VIP treatment, or at least decent customer service.

When I pay thousands of dollars, plus hundreds more for VIP and painfully learn that hippie daughter, her hippie friend, nerdy son and former girlfriend can’t get into our campsite and am advised by staff members to “go to Wal-Mart and buy a tent,” for them, I become a curmudgeon. Easy-going Spousal Unit becomes downright cantankerous.

“It really pisses me off when some stoner high school dropout tells me I can’t have something I paid for,” he groused as we pulled up camp and moved to a different locale. Initially, I thought, “Geez, you sound like an old fart,” and then I realized. “Hey that really pisses me off as well.”

Granted, much of the misery landed squarely on our shoulders. We aren’t good at reading the fine print and as a result didn’t see that VIP tickets allowed us to surpass waiting on the interstate for three-and-a-half hours in the middle of the night AND certainly could have alleviated waiting just inside the front gate for two-and-a-half hours because “VIP isn’t open yet.”

Spousal Unit HAD read that caveat and looked at me. “I TOLD you…” slipped out before he could bite his tongue. I didn’t hit him with my tie dyed hippie flag. The I-told-you-so was deserved and besides, I didn’t have the strength to wail at him.

What neither of us saw – or still see after being told in no uncertain terms – is the rule that despite purchasing two VIP campsites and two VIP tickets/wristbands, our General Admission offspring and their friends would not be allowed entry into our campsite.

We learned this only after setting up camp in two VIP spots, sitting back to finally enjoy the good vibes and live by the Bonnaroo code of Radiate Positivity after fourteen hours of journeying (only one-and-a-half hours from our home) when we got a call from Girl Child. “They won’t let us in,” she said. Spousal Unit and I looked at one another. What a drama queen.

“Sweetie, “ I cajoled my main squeeze, “can you go walk her and her friend in? I think they need to see the girls are with VIP ticket-holders.”

A few minutes later, I got a text. And then a call. And then another call. These laid-back-enjoy-the-vibe-we’re-all-in-this-together Bonnaroo staffers were not going to let them in. Spousal Unit was not impressed. In fact, Spousal Unit was distressed. He called me. “They won’t (blankety blank) let the girls (blankety blank) in. They can’t even come in to pee. Or to cool off. They (blankety blank) won’t let them in!”

Of course, Bonnaroo staff had solutions. First they offered upgrades. For $200 extra per person without VIP passes, we could upgrade so that everyone had a pass. Well, that’s eight hundred bucks, but we’re already into it for the value of a Mini Cooper. Maybe that’s what we should do. A few minutes later, Spousal Unit called back with more colorful play by play. Not $200, but $500 per would upgrade the minors to VIP status. That’s two thousand dollars, for those without a calculator.

They had another solution. They invited us to go to Wal-Mart and buy a tent for the girls to stay in out with the rest of the unwashed masses. Spousal glared at the guy who has just one job. “Do you see that beautiful girl over there?” he asked, pointing at Hippie Girl Child’s Hippie Friend. “I looked that beautiful girl’s father in the eye and I told him I would keep his daughter safe. And you WANT ME TO STICK HER IN A TENT IN A CROWD OF ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE!?!?!” Hippie Girl Child and Hippie Friend were becoming uncomfortable. As well as hot, dehydrated , hungry and a little sick. They had been away from the campsite for a few hours now, standing in the hot sun, waiting for resolution and Radiate Positivity to commence.

Hours later, with two teenage girls near heat stroke and a husband near a fatal stroke, we reached a compromise with Bonnaroo staffers. We would forfeit the two VIP campsites and in return, they would allow us to park two camping vehicles in one handicapped spot. It’s my ability to negotiate that has taken me far in this world. Sure, you can have your way. I will give up several hundreds dollars worth of real estate for this one spot. Thank you sir; may I have another?

Well into the 36th hour of Day 1 of our Bonnaroo experience, I sat in Monte-the-RV, grouchy and tired, feeling like some young whippersnapper just snatched this old lady’s purse. “Help! Po-lice! Help! Those hippies took my VIP campsite away!” I wondered if my malaise and inability to “radiate positivity” meant that Daisy and I are only fit for Florida retirement trailer parks. Do I need to learn how to play shuffleboard, bingo and bridge, while Daisy gets a blue rinse?

Had the experience not improved, I would definitely believe the Villages of Resting Sinkhole Palms was our future. Our painfully near future. It was difficult to not lean out Monte’s door, shake my walker and scream, “Turn that shit down!”

But I didn’t. And things got better. And that’s a different story for another time.

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What I did this summer: A back-to-school essay

IMG_0918[1]Ahhhhh…the lazy, hazy days of summer, when the living is easy and the cotton is high. The dog rests lazily in the shade as I sip an Arnold Palmer and swat the lone mosquito, whilst finalizing the contract for my novel. Spousal unit sings to himself and expertly flips steaks on the grill. Offspring laugh joyously as they chase lightning bugs. Daisy comfortably lounges on her landscaped pad, her flawless metal reflecting the last of the day’s light, as well as the amber glow of retro bulbs and Japanese lanterns.

Ahhhhh…the endless days of summer.

These seemingly endless days.

The days that go on forever.

Dear God, will these days never end? The sweltering heat. The swarms of bugs. The mind-numbing crisis after crisis after mind-numbing don’t tell me a horse tearing down her fence every damn week isn’t a crisis. Or Boy Child’s girl frand cheating on him with his best friend isn’t a crisis. Or the call-child-protection-services-this-building-should-be-condemned condition of our home sweet home. Is. Not. A. Crisis. Don’t tell me that, or you may undergo a crisis of your own.

What a ride this summer has been. I’ve never been a big fan of roller coasters and one of the benefits of being…ummmm…Rubenesque is so I can say, “Oh look, I exceed the weight limit. Too bad. You guys have fun riding this thing. I’ll be over at the corndog stand.” I had to ride a roller coaster this summer, though. The roller coaster of life. In fact, I was in the front car, fearfully gripping the rails as we reached the highs because I could see what was at the crest and so I screamed bloody murder as we careened toward the ground. Every time I thought the ride was slowing down to end, we zipped past the exit point and climbed back to the top.

Like the faces of those on the ground eating their corndogs when the roller coaster cars rattle by, many specific events of the summer are a little blurry. Thank heavens, I can look back at my journal so that I can remember Summer 2015 details. We writers keep journals, y’know. It’s recommended. We sit with a cup of coffee each morning and a glass of wine each evening and we journal our thoughts, our activities, our hopes our dreams. We do that in between fending off calls for movie rights to our novels.

My journal is also easily accessible to me and password protected. It’s called Bank of America Online Banking Account Statement. When I can’t remember where I was, or what I was doing, I can return to my journal entries and see that on June 1, I spent $242.82 at U-Haul, which means I was preparing Pollyanna the Honda Pilot to tow Daisy the Trailer to Bonnaroo. That day, I also spent $89.65 at Habitat ReStore, which means Boy Child and I got the bathroom cabinet we used for the kitchen cabinet for Daisy’s insides. An East Tennessee Dollar General line item reminds me that we were at a horse show outside of Knoxville at the beginning of August. Girl Child’s first without her trainer. My last without a fifth of something hidden somewhere.

With my handy journal by my side, (Good God, did we REALLY spend that much on an RV for Bonnaroo?), allow me to spend the next few blog entries reliving what I did this summer. In no particular order, the subjects include, but are not limited to: Bonnaroo; she shed; doctor appointments; horse shows; human fallibility; house guests; Bessie; Daisy; Bonnaroo; heat; humidity; flies; effects of dehydration; watermelons; blacksmithing; neighbors not calling the cops; Bonnaroo; betrayal; hipsters matter; cyberstalking; weeds; weed; bowel blockage and did I mention Bonnaroo.

I can write only as time and blood pressure allow. Meanwhile, I sit outside as the lazy days of summer slip by and swarms of gnats, mosquitos and flies take turns strafing me. The dog chews on what looks to be a dried mole carcass and I sip a gone-cold cup of coffee from a broken mug with bugs swimming in it. Spousal Unit is putting in his half day at work (when he puts in 12 hours), while Girl Child fights the system at her high school and Boy Child sleeps til afternoon. Junior year of college starts next week. Like a camel, he’s stocking up. Daisy leans toward me, slightly miffed that I parked her so haphazardly when I brought her back from a horse show. I can’t tell her – or anyone – that there were three college boys watching me back her into the spot and my 1980s ego declared that I was NOT going to pull forward, back up, pull forward and snake back in front of these young men. For all they know, that is EXACTLY where I wanted her.

Sorry girl, it’s the price you pay for being on my roller coaster.