Our decision to attend had been made earlier in the week, when Samantha and I decided we would need some light relief to wind down, from the very long five days that preceded the weekend, which would make the trip to Costco, and Walmart, more bearable!
Monday was the first day for the 'new girls'. Samantha and Kelly (our lady process server) were going to take over the position vacated, last week, by Roger. Fortunately, both had shadowed Roger for a few days, and had a basic knowledge of how the job was to be done, but of course, there were many questions, and there are no points for guessing who became the 'go to' person. By lunchtime, I was ready to leave, and sent Richard a message, 'Can I come and live with you?' His reply was, 'No. You wanted to live out there'. When I told him that I had changed my mind, he told me, 'You made your bed.....' He did not reply to my question of, 'Where do I go for sympathy?' My irritation was purely with the situation, rather than the ladies, as my workload was enormous, and I was unable to get to those tasks until they had left for the day.
All frustration melted away on Tuesday morning, when Samantha arrived at the office with a vase of carnations, together with a card telling me that although she doesn't always say it, she appreciates everything I do for her, and thanked me for 'being' me. Richard's response was 'what did she do wrong?' Every time I felt a surge of stress mounting, I looked at the beautiful blooms on my desk and it subsided very quickly.
The week was young on Tuesday, and by Friday, I had worked the equivalent of a fortnight, and when we finally left the office, shortly before 9pm, I was ready for a long holiday rather than a two day weekend. Convincing myself that we were, indeed, very blessed to have so much work, I experienced adrenaline withdrawal, shortly after getting into the car to go home. This proved to be not such a good move, as Dana insisted on taking me out for dinner, and then said, 'where do you want to go', having absolutely no preference himself. Mumbling the words, 'I really don't care', caused Dana some concern, as I was slumped in the passenger seat, limp and almost lifeless, and my attempts to sit up and be jolly failed miserably. However, I perked up after my second burger of the week, and a plate full of chips (french fries), were consumed and proceeded to descend to settle firmly upon my hips. That would have to be a worry for another day!
Saturday morning arrived as it always does with the chores that have been designated by me, to be completed by me. Samantha arrived shortly after eleven, and we left the dog to go and join the festivities. We decided against taking the car to a multi-storey and riding the gratis bus to the venue. Instead we found a parking space, which was, according to Samantha's phone, twelve minutes away. After depositing two dollars into the meter, we started our walk and ascended down the hill to the park. Samantha attempted to set a verbal alarm, by asking her phone to 'tell me when it's one thirty'. The phone replied she did not have an appointment at one thirty. Attempting to fix the problem, and misunderstanding, Samantha told the phone to remind her about her appointment at one thirty; the phone told her that she did not understand. Samantha attempted again to ask for a one thirty alarm, and listened while the phone had a nervous breakdown, complained of PMS and asked why it had to do everything!
I should have guessed that this was yet another 'Let's keep Austin Weird', festival. Manned by the Sheriff's department, and a few constables making sure no one parked on the verges outside the park, the event itself was weird. The fancy dress competition was open to everyone and their dog; and I mean that quite literally. Children were invited to enter the fancy dress competition, and there were some very impressive creations. I am not sure whether there were prizes for the adults, but if there were not, it would seem to be a dreadful shame. The costumes were not only inventive, but thoroughly outrageous. A young woman sporting a hula hoop, was gyrating to the sound of drums. Her costume was that of a squaw, with a cloth skirt, and a feathered top. At first, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, as I am so prone to do, and considered that she was unaware of the ill-fitting nature of the plumes. Presumably, (or not,) she lacked the knowledge that feathers grow on a bird, and they do not just 'stick', as on closer inspection, the feathers were hung around her neck, with the vague possibility of covering her bare chest. My 'Oh my goodness', was met by an 'uh huh' from Samantha, and the explanation, of course without confirmation, that although the party originated as a spring picnic for the Department of English students at the University of Texas, at Austin, it became a tradition with Austin's hippie community.
Once aware of the origins, and subsequent overhaul, there was no surprise to see a group of people sitting quietly, mesmerised by another very well endowed lady, this time wearing a fitted top, but obviously no undergarments, attempting, it would appear, to give herself a black eye. Her head was bent down, arms swinging wildly, while other body parts were bouncing freely into her face and back again. As we continued to wander, we saw Robin Hood, the Mad Hatter, a couple of mushrooms, and several minuscule costumes that sported tails. If I remember rightly, Eeyore was totally covered, albeit with fur, but continually lost his tail. Alternative seems to be the way Austin works. Dogs were dressed as donkeys, bears, and of course, batman (?)
The rest of the party was as generic as all events. There were stalls selling dog treats, food and t-shirts. There was a playground where children could throw a ball into Tigger's mouth, into Pooh's mouth, into Mrs. Kanger's mouth, and one where you could catch a fish! Alternative! There was a group of children making a tail, a group of children making a character jigsaw, a group of children drawing characters with chalk, and a group of children having their photo taken with a human phone, smoking a joint! Alternative at its best!
We left the place that had paper flowers tied to trees, and walked back to the car. The incline was as steep upwards as it had been easy downwards. Cars over five years old need a maintenance check when they reach the top! However, we made it back to the mini, and left the downtown area, Costco bound. We took the Interstate and laughed at our own jokes all the way to the warehouse. Whether it was the fact that I am still not, after eight years, entirely familiar with labeling on perishables, or whether there was indeed and element of contraband substance wafting through the air at our previous location, I am not sure, but I managed to make myself look slightly tipsy. I waved to the gentleman packaging the beef, and showed him the date on the wrapping. It showed Friday's date. Putting on my best accent, as usual, I asked if he knew that the meat was out of date. He looked at me rather confused, and told me that the 27th was Friday, the previous day. I tried not to look too superior but when I am right, I find it so hard to resist, and pointed to the sell by date once again. 'That is the packaging date', he said, putting my smugness to bed. 'Okay, I see', I said, giggling apologetically, going from arrogant to ditsy, 'can you explain the different cuts of meat? One is $3.99 per pound, one is $4.59 per pound, and this one is over $5 per pound.' Sighing, he told me that this was not the price, but the weight, and suggested that perhaps I should just go home, put my feet up and have a drink. I realised that this was going to be one of those days that made his job worth while, as I watched him go back to his colleagues, point to the sliding glass windows, and watched them fold over clutching at their stomachs! I doubt any one of them had tummy ache! On departing, swiftly, we filled the gas tank and headed to buy our groceries. Suddenly, the phone alarm started to ring. It was one thirty. The phone had obviously decided that it was not gender based and could not suffer from female ailments, therefore allowing it to do the job which for which it is famous.
Our banter continued in Walmart, and we stood in the pasta aisle, laughing so hard, tears were rolling down our faces. It was one of those moments where you 'had to be there', but as we stood, unable to control the giggling, no one was there, as all left the aisle.
Tomorrow is the start of a new week, and I have already been told that my 'inbox' is overflowing. I am not sure how the stress levels will fluctuate, but I am sure that will be ..... another story.