There’s planes, trains, and automobiles, but no one has ever been transported further and had a smoother ride than with music. Moreover, the usual modes of transportation never take you anywhere significantly different than where you were in the first place and you never show up in as good shape as when you left. You’re frazzled, weary from the road, and the blood has pooled and gotten stale in your legs. You’ve enriched the lives of Arab Sheiks and have impoverished Gulf Coast crustaceans. You may have gone miles, but you haven’t arrived at the only objective that matters: a meaningful life.
They had to return the costumes they’d worn for the Happiness Parade. The Geeky Guy removed his dress and wig, emptied his purse, and rubbed off the lipstick. He didn’t know how to remove mascara, so he kept it on, looking pretty. He left the shed at the same time that the Lisping Barista arrived, still in her wedding dress and, except for the body paint, bravely bare chested. She saw him and oddly became bashful. She covered her breasts with her veil and blushed.
“Don’t look,” she said. “I like to keep thome mythtery.”
He averted his eyes, even though there wasn’t much mystery left that everyone hadn’t appraised. His eyes landed directly on the bare breasts of the Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup, took a jolting hop, and settled safely on the ground.
“Thtay here,” said the Lisping Barista, “We’ll thee you thoon.”
As he waited with the Rugby Player, a row of pennants surmounting a dance tent stiffened in the breeze, seeking to fly away from their flagpoles and go free. Flocks of birds, celebrating a windfall of discarded veggie wraps, dropped tofu burgers, and crumbled falafel, gamboled through the air till, hungry again, they returned to earth for more. A few napkins and juice cups skidded down the field before they were rounded up and recycled by a team of environmentally conscious volunteers. It seemed that everything about this place that wasn’t already free was trying to get loose and run wild. So, too, was the grip the Geeky Guy normally had on himself.
A zydeco band had already wound itself up and was unreeling a bayou opus from the grandstand. The crowd flocked to the track and began to raise dust again. The Lisping Barista came out of the shed looking more normal, except for some white paint around the neckline. She smiled and the Geeky Guy began his voyage towards significance.
This journey involved a number of transfers, but not the bothersome kind like you make at the airport, where you have to get off a plane and rush through the terminal, only to find that your flight has been delayed. No, this was more like going from ride to ride at an amusement park, starting at the flying teacups, squeezing in the first car at the roller coaster, and then winding up all wet at the flume. What began with a smile led to a stroll to the foot stompers, hand in hand. They watched them for a time until the Geeky Guy couldn’t help himself and began to do some foot stomping himself.
It wasn’t so very long ago that the Geeky Guy would see a couple in love, joined at the phalanges, delighting in each other’s company, and think, that’ll never be me. Never is an awful word, and a mean one; luckily it never knows what it’s talking about. It’s like its cousin, always. They always make sampling errors, mistaking some characteristic of a limited number of occurrences to be representative of the whole.
An elderly accordion player nodded sagely as he played. He knew all about how une fille can appear out of nowhere to warm his bones. He understood that life consisted of surprises, and surprises like to be cuddled. He squeezed his concertina most affectionately, and fingered her in the places that made her scream.
A hyperkinetic washboard player would not be upstaged. He leapt a good four feet in the air and came down with a mad itch. He scratched enough for a tub of laundry, but not a single shirt got clean. That wasn’t the point.
A bright blond fiddler let her strings deliver a dissertation. It professed that life, like music, didn’t need to mean anything other than what it was. Its meaning is no meaning, its purpose is no purpose, and its logic is illogic; but it must have intricacy, artistry, and a beat.
The Lisping Barista’s friends joined them and they danced comfortably in a ragged circle. The incipient panic the Geeky Guy had felt just a short time ago seemed remote and incongruous. They all were more than one happy family; they were one organism. Not just the Lisping Barista, the two friends, and the Geeky Guy; but all the dancers, They were a thousand-foot-stomping millipede, moving in one accord, directed by a fiddle, a washboard, and an orgasmic concertina. This might be what all the cells in a body feel like when they come together, and click; after they sort out who’s going to be the liver, who the spleen, and who the fifteenth eyelash from the right of the left eyeball.
For all the movement everyone was doing, no one was going anywhere. They were already there. The Geeky Guy looked over at the Lisping Barista and took it all in, to save the image for later. She was a round and cozy young woman. No sharp corners or razor edges. She danced with more grace than heaven could hold. Light brown dreads bopped on top of her head. Six pieces of metal intersected various parts of her face, not counting her tongue stud. Her nipples, which he and the rest of the parade had seen, were pierced also; but he don’t know about anything else. Nothing else, for the moment, but the moment, mattered. It was a moment he’d want to last forever.