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08.14.02 1:27 p.m.

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

 -Orson Welles  

Previously in Xenology: We enjoyed a pizza party at Dezi's and made great use of his trampoline. Emily and I toiled fruitlessly at the Ren Faire. I worked at Summer Scholars with Jacki and Wayne.

The Lady Is a Tramp
On Saturday, after an arduous day in the book mines, Emily and I went to a party at Dezi's house. Technically, Emily was supposed to be throwing a party at her house because, I assume, a party needed to be had. We were going to barbecue and swim in her pleasantly wet pool. However, Flynn had to attend to matters with his departed grandfather. Conor is still lost at a sleep-away camp several states over. Melissa is allergic to chlorine and had forgotten about the party. With no Melissa, there is no Liz. Tina and Stevehen didn't seem to get the invitation. Zack was going to be playing in his band at Dezi's party. Well, there was really no contest, was there?
The band consists of Dezi, Zack, the twins whom I always mix up (despite their being fraternal), and a man that was called Fuzzy Dude in high school. It is a little bit like the band on the Muppets, actually. They all seem to have equal proficiency at each instrument and are given to randomly changing between songs. However - and I am sorry if you are reading this Dezi - I like Zack most as the singer. It is likely because he has one of those voices that just seems trained, which is why he was always the lead in high school musicals and I was Seabee #4 or Townsperson #7.
There was also a kid who thought he was in the band that seemed to have the rough mental capacity of warm vanilla pudding. He was dressed in what he clearly thought to be gothic clothing, though it just looked as though a Hot Topic has sneezed upon him. With the spikes and fishnet on a body that would be better suited for knock-off Gap clothing, it seemed overly contrived. I actually knew him as the perpetually confused young man who came into the library seeming books on witchcraft and then insisted to me that the pentacle featured in The Golden Dawn was "upside down." So, when he asked me to order him books on witchcraft, I got him Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft. Seemed more his speed. None of those big words like "ethics" and "divine." Maybe he'll actually catch on that there is more to it than he sees on Charmed. Or perhaps it is yet another awkward pair of pleather pants to him that he believes will make him seem more goth.
I really need a new picture of Dezi, this one is four years old at the very least. He's fuzzier now, like a teddy bear.
We greeted the various guests, though sparingly. I had gone to high school with most of the party-goers and wasn't always fond. I pointed people out to M with short stories like, "That is Twiggy. She was the cousin to the most popular girl in our high school. In seventh grade, I once wrote her a note basically saying 'hi' and she had her mother report me to the school for sexual harassment. I was deeply bitter about that, especially as the psychologist said to me, 'tell me about your mother,' and I laughed at him and told him that no one was a Freudian anymore. I also once had to seduce her on stage to try to get a role in a school play. It was a fucked up system. She was unable to catch-up with my double entendres, being inexperienced, but it was damned funny. If totally sick. I didn't get the role, by the way." Emily chortled, as only she can, at this stream of conscious diatribe and conceded that I was better off.
I pointed at another girl and expositioned, "That is Pollyanna. I dated her for a couple of weeks in middle school. She has not, that I can tell, progressed in the slightest since then. She was terribly geeky in middle school. Painfully so, really. Her favorite band was Ace of Base and she despised anything even slightly harder, so it was clearly doomed from the get-go. We went on our first date to see Casper - yes, the one with Christina - and she insisted that we sit next to her mother. Essentially, she had the emotional availability of an eleven-year-old which, as a fourteen year old, was ridiculously immature." Emily scoped her out and the man-child on whose arm she was hanging. I said, "How much oral sex must she give him to keep him with her?" Emily's eyes widened and I though she was going to chide me for being so vulgar. Instead she complained, "That's exactly was I was going to say! Except I was going to say 'blow-jobs.'" Great minds of a feather and all.
Emily and I mostly kept to ourselves and we mostly kept to the trampoline. Honestly, when there is a huge trampoline, how can you avoid the inevitable? You can't, or it becomes evitable. Emily was going to show me her new gymnastics skills, but developed a sudden
Annie, Dezi's twin sister, and her boyfriend Glenn. I have similar pictures where he didn't turn his head. I like this one better.
fear of falling on her head when others began to watch her. On the plus side, I did get to fondle her back under the premise of preventing her from cracking in half during a bridge.
As she was not willing to become Mary Lou Retton for us, we settled for Jet Li (or a human version thereof). She donned her Tae Kwon Do gear and proceeded to try to beat up Dezi, who had once taken a martial art. However, they were too conversational to be considered a spectator sport for most, so I proceeded to add in Mortal Kombat sound effects. The quasi-goth, whom I will call Chip at Emily's suggestion, kept cheering them on with such brilliant rejoiners as, "Um.. hit him. Yeah." and the ever popular, "Um... hit her. Yeah." Where does he come up with this brilliant material?
When Emily returned to her car to store her gear, she realized that she had locked her keys in the car. I whipped out my trusty The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook and flipped to the page about breaking into a car. We procured and bent the coat hanger, but to no avail. Emily's car Plabo was too new and the tricks suggested were foiled by safety devices to prevent the car from being stolen. As such, we had to call the cops and wait until they had come to fix it.
Adding insult to injury was when we reentered Dezi's home and were disappointed to see that everyone present had decided to watch Dragonfly, one of those god awful romantic movies where one of the partners is quite dead. Can't we just accept that Ghost did this specific premise best, and even that was pretty much senseless mush? I kept making such comparisons throughout the movie, telling M that the cancer kids that the ghost woman (also named Emily, so she is going to be "the ghost woman") was using as puppets should turn into her ala Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost and Kevin Costner should end up making out with a ten-year-old boy just as his parents walk in. Now that's entertainment. Being polluted with Costner as it was, M and I kept making snarky comments only to have them be said seriously a minute later in the movie. Sick, I tell you. Sick.
Finally, the police came. The female officer had just as little luck as we had, owing to the safety measures. The male officer, after informing Emily that he might have to shoot out the back window, jimmied the car open in only a few minutes. Emily was gleeful with relief and asked if she could hug the cop without being shot. He said she would likely be safe.

Now Am I In The Shire of Sterling, The More Fool I
The next day, M and I were to meet Wayne, Jacki, and her boyfriend Josh at the Renaissance Faire. We still had free passes, so we didn't mind terribly. Plus, we sang most of the first CD to Rent, and I have such deep affection for women who sing in my presence.
We arrived reasonably on time and were greeted by Wayne in a full jester's outfit. Emily had insisted that, owing to the heat, we not wear garb. I wasn't at all opposed, mind you. It was 95 degrees in the shade, after all. My brain might melt into chocolate pudding. We know what happens then.
Wayne, in his jester's ensemble, said that he had been waiting for Jacki for an hour and a half, obviously having forgotten that punctuality is a foreign word to her. We went inside to the fountain, where we were to meet her. Jacki, to our immense lack of surprise, was not there. Nonetheless, Emily and I stood under the misting fountain until thoroughly soaked. Jacki could have been hiding in the center of the fountain for all we knew. We had to be certain.
M, sitting. This has nothing to do with the faire. I just hadn't used this picture.
While I was trying to supersaturate my shirt for optimum cooling, a rennie boy lecherously commented to be that he liked hanging out here because of all the sexy girls getting wet. He motioned to his right, where I observed numerous ten-year-old girls. I screamed back, "Dude, they are ten!" He seemed abashed that I caught him in his directionless misogyny and mumbled, "sometimes they have bodices."
We wandered the faire a bit, fairly directionless. (See? See what I did there?) We took in the wench singers, one of whom I know through many IMs. Plus, she visits this site so she will beat me if I do not give her due credit for a good show. However, she was not the wench that chose to sit on my lap before a bawdy song, so I will have to deduct a point for style. She later confronted me by Psychic's Waye and asked if I remembered who she was. Emily had assumed I did not and began to tell her so. I said, "Darien, of course, I know who you are!" That darned Emily, trying to get me in trouble.
We stopped by the fairy booth, where we will be temporarily employed in September (a decision I am slightly dreading, because I was fast remembering the loathing I tended to feel toward the clientele of the faire), in order to clarify when she would like our employment, exactly. Carol (the owner of the booth and the craftswoman of amazing fairies with real butterfly wings) stated that she actually wondered if we might be available next Sunday. I got the aching feeling I was not, but couldn't actually figure out why I thought this was so. As such, we accepted in order to have more cash for our vacation that Monday. It felt vaguely like prostituting oneself for one's child's life-saving operation. Except for totally selfish reasons.
Two hours after we were supposed to have met Jacki and Josh we found them walking toward the fountain. By this point, I had found Kendall hawking goods for Carol, so I was trying to quickly catch up on her life. She informed me that she and Neko (the guitarist of the band I saw when I had my koi pond revelation) were doing well, with that edge to her voice which suggested that numerous positive adjectives could have been applied and were not only out of modesty. She also told me that Zanna had stopped by the day before with her new girlfriend. I said, honestly, that I was very happy for her. That girl just needed to bite the homoerotic (though in no way phallic) bullet and come out of the closet. This also totally confirms my theory that Zanna currently (and yes, immaturely) hates me because over a year ago, the girl she liked wanted me. Kendall did not, however, mention what this girlfriend looked like, so it may be the same girl. That would be mighty cute, especially as Kendall (the worst part about writing about a female relating a story about lesbians is that it is so damned hard to use pronouns) says Zanna is still trying to be a man.
Jacki and Josh were dressed as well-dressed gothic rennies, except they didn't particularly look as though they were trying. Jacki didn't look much different than when we worked at Summer Scholars together. Though the solid black parasol was a nice touch.
Again, there was wandering, which is of little note. Emily and I were treated like absolute shit by sword sellers with fucked-up sales ethics. One was going off about how the bronze dagger he was repeatedly and sexually thrusting in and out of a slice of cardboard would give someone gangrene and how it could be broken at the hilt for maximum damage. Someone needs sedation, methinks. We asked another salesman about a parrying dagger, because I thought it was an interesting design. He said he would hand it to me only if I promised not to touch the metal. Never mind that he was going off about how to stab people with it (parrying daggers are used for defense in fencing. Not attack, which would come as a surprise to these violent monkey boys). Then Emily asked about foils and he started, apropos of nothing, listing foils by weight. We had enough of this cretin and handed him his sword back. Some people just shouldn't be around pointy things. It makes them overcompensate.
We also tried to catch the last Ded Bob show of the day. However, we noted that the puppet and its master were standing in the street yelling at people. Josh inquired as to when the show was going to start. The puppet looked at him and bemoaned, "This is the show. I'm not doing a show for twelve frickin' people." The subtext was, "I can't leech enough money from twelve people, though I am being paid to do a show anyway." I thought this reasoning sucked a great deal, especially as there were at least thirty people sitting in the stands and waiting patiently. The puppet was less than happy when we forced him into the pavilion and showed him the people, but put on a lackluster version of the last show we saw him do. Absolutely no variations on the theme, save that he sang a less enjoyable song about killing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
After the faire, we were suitably famished and piled into our respective cars in order to eat. We ended up at one of those darkly lit chain restaurants named after a day of the week. Honestly, I can not remember which one it was, nor does it matter. We ordered obscene amounts of food, which was rapidly consumed as Emily (under my duress) poured forth stories about insulting Arthur Miller and kissing Kevin Smith. If you have these sorts of stories, they need to be gotten out at the beginning. Unless you are me. In that case, you can drink several glasses of water, until your body rehydrates and returns to its normal shape.
However, under the force of Cold Play, I explained to M and the company that I didn't like the band for a few months because Kate has been sleeping with a boy whose phone number spelled something close to the bands name (which I knew only because Kate insisted upon calling that household The Boys of Cold Play). Jacki perked up and asked to which member of the household I was referring. I couldn't recall his name, so I related characteristics. She confirmed that she knew him and had hung out with him a few times and didn't think, and I am paraphrasing here but trying to keep the meaning, that he would stoop so low as the interaction Kate had described to me. I shrugged, because I really had no other means of communication at that point. Damned six degrees. After formulating what sort of a reply was required, I whimpered out, "I don't want you disliking me because of a story that Kate told this boy about me." Jacki consoled that she didn't much talk to this boy and I was safe.
All in all, the evening, once we were sitting and being served expensive food and creamy delicious alcohol, was quite pleasant. Though Wayne in a jester's outfit will be one of those images I see on my death bed and start cackling.

Soon in Xenology: A vacation in Lake George. Before Sunrise. Shooting stars. The Princess Bride. Hanging out with Matt. Visual hallucinations. Street cats and love. Naughty flatmates.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: The Salmon of Doubt, Flashbacks
listening: Rent
wanting: My camera for vacation. And possibly two gags.
interesting thought: I have no idea if I have free will.
moment of zen: afterglow.
someday I must: buy a rollerblading helmet.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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