Limping toward one of the numerous stages upon which a musical genius would remind me why I was torturing myself in thousand-degree heat with one hundred thousand of my closest friends, I heard my beloved gasp. This was it. The final countdown. He would meet his maker, clutching his chest at Bonnaroo. It’s how he would like to meet his maker, but probably a few decades earlier than planned. I was already writing his eulogy in my head when I turned around to see his pasty white complexion covered in a sheen of sweat.
“You okay?” I asked, thinking there is no way I’m gonna give you mouth to mouth in this heat.
He gasped, “Borat Suit.” I thought those were strange last words, but I would be sure to put them in the eulogy. He grabbed my elbow and steered me toward the direction we had just come.
“Yes, honey?” I queried politely, wondering if his demise meant I would miss Hozier. Maybe we could play, “Get me to church” at the funeral. Oooh. Maybe Hozier would even play at the funeral, seeing how Spousal Unit expired at Bonnaroo. Maybe I could ride in the helicopter with him. Hozier would be kind to a grieving widow.
Spousal Unit continued to tug my elbow and point. “Borat Suit. Oh my God, a Borat Suit. My eyes.” I patted his hand gently. We must be kind to those who are on their way out. If his eyes were going, he must be heading to the light.
“It’s okay, honey,” I reassured him. “I’m here.”
“Did you (effing) see the (effing) guy in a Borat Suit?” I didn’t know if he were dying or had found Jesus. He was speaking in tongues. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about.
“You don’t know what a Borat Suit is?” His tone had turned condescending. Now I knew he was about to die, but at my hands. I’m a busy woman and I don’t get out much, I snarked, so I invited him to tell me what a Borat Suit was.
Obviously I hadn’t gotten the memo, seen the movie, nor had I seen the gentleman walking past us in what is described on the interwebs as a “mankini.” Back when I was a tween and first started wearing bras, my friends and I giggled and called them “over the shoulder boulder holders.” To the unlearned, a Borat Suit is an over the shoulder banana hammock.
I eased him toward our goal of Good Music and Spousal Unit remained in a state of shocked disbelief and V-fib until his heart jump started into a normal pattern after two beautiful young women walked by, topless with painted breasts. Once again, he stopped abruptly and pointed. Subtlety is not his forte. I tried to appreciate the artistic perfection of their perky canvasses as I wiped the drool from my life partner’s face, but it was difficult to not wonder what art could possibly appear on my poor, breastfed-longer-than-I-should-have, gravity-is-a-bitch bosoms. These young ladies had gold swirls, and posies on their chests. I suppose I could have weeping willows painted on mine.
The sartorial splendor of Bonnaroo continued throughout the weekend. Man buns prevailed, as did ink. So much tattoo. There were a lot of flowing skirts and peasant shirts, tons of tie dye and daisy chain head bands. The hippie vibe was like cool, man and like speaking of cool, keeping cool was imperative. Many, many young women in bikinis. And some not-so-young-women in bikinis. Spousal unit needed whiplash treatment at the end of the week.
But because life isn’t fair and gender equality is a myth, lines to the women’s porta-johns are always longer and good looking men wear jorts and t-shirts at Bonnaroo. A few went without shirts, but they were the age where I wanted to make sure they had on sunscreen, stayed hydrated and were texting their mamas who were home worrying. I wasn’t alone. Our new friends, the Amish donut pushers, living in The Pickle next door, suffered in similar fashion.
“That boy needs sunscreen,” one new friend said, reaching for her can of SPF 70. We were the guerrilla warriors of skin care. Girl Child quit coming by with her friends, because we’d squint beadily into their eyes before handing them hydration with one hand and spraying Coppertone bombs with the other. “Were they sober?” we’d ask one another after they left. “Yeah, but did you see that streak of sunburn on her back?” We’d sigh and shake our heads. The risks these kids take.
Apparently, I did miss a few worthy visions. Girl Child tells me there was a couple dressed as Maddie Ziegler and Shia LaBeouf in Sia’s video “Elastic Heart.” If he looked anything like Shia LaBeouf in that video, I really did miss it. Boy Child danced with a chicken, who he thinks might have been a member of the band, Trampled By Turtles, or was it the Mumford and Sons? Not I. Instead I saw a version of the FTD Florist, in a gold Speedo with knee-length athletic socks. I also came upon Cap’n ‘Murka, Captain America’s redneck cousin, with an American flag-themed Speedo, flag-colored tube socks, a flag-print towel draped over his shoulder and chuckies on his feet. The world is divided into two parts: those who shouldn’t be in Speedos and those who are dead. Even Shia LaBeouf doesn’t need to wear a Speedo.
The image that won’t leave me, however, and that may be because I took a picture of it, is that of a hairy back at the Bluegrass Stage. (Trigger warning for those who grew up with hairy backs at the pool.) Not just any hairy back, this back could donate to Locks of Love. This back could be an ad for Rogaine. This back, this very hairy back, has a future in the next Planet of the Apes series. I completely missed the musicality and marital banter of Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn because of the mesmerizing power of Hairy Back.
It doesn’t matter how many beautifully painted breasts, flowing skirts, muscular men and daisy chain headbands I saw at Bonnaroo, the image of the hairy back is MY Borat Suit, MY kryptonite. The hairy back broke me and so I share it. You’re welcome.