Monday, September 9, 2013

Dazed in Duffield (With Update)

So I went to Duffield Daze, as promised, and came home feeling...dazed.

It was a nice little Town Festival offering good clean fun. Kids bouncing and squeaking in the inflatable Bounce House. Smells of frying funnel cakes and baking pizzas and sizzling burgers. Brass-heavy marching bands. Sizzling sun. Kids wandering around whimpering "Mom," mothers dashing around calling kids' names. Old friends catching up on the news. Old acquaintances who weren't really friends fencing with lethal verbal weapons. Token prizes given to fundraisers for churches and charities. Fire engines. Republicans. Lots and lots of Shriners. Giant pumpkins, friendly farm animals, fudge and souvenir T-shirts.

I wanted to go to at least the Saturday morning parade, the Friday night street dance, and one or two of the Saturday afternoon concerts. My preference would of course have been to go with my Significant Other, if the usual problem-child problems hadn't come up. They did. Going with my old Duffield flea market partner seemed even more likely to be problematic, since he's pushing age ninety by now. Duffield Daze is largely for and about senior citizens. The big awning and chairs provided for them are close to the parade judges' stand. And it wasn't really all that hot; one of those days when it's not the heat, it's the humidity. Nevertheless...

I went to the Friday night street dance with a relative. I thought that in a Baptist-dominated community a street dance might be amusing. You know the old joke about the Baptist couple who started kissing, and one of them pulled away and said, "Sit down! Somebody might think we're dancing!" In real life, little kids hop and skip around, and the adults tap their feet, wave their fans, and occasionally even sway with the beat--just a little bit--always providing that you can't tell for sure whether they're holding a coin between their knees. Seventh-Day Adventists, such as Grandma Bonnie Peters, march to toe-tapping tunes, and I would've enjoyed the dance more if people had marched. Nobody did. A few young ladies rocked their babies to the beat.

In previous years I watched the Saturday morning parade from the front of the building that used to house the indoor flea market, where I used to have a booth. This year I thought it would be fun to stand out on the street and try to snap a few pictures. I quickly abandoned this idea because every time I took out the digital camera somebody threw candy at me. Then when I was not holding up a camera, some people in the parade all but said out loud, "What's an adult doing, standing on the street like the children begging for candy." People on one float made a point of throwing candy at the children and souvenir pens and pencils at the adults on the street. People on a couple of other floats made a point of turning their backs to me and a few other adults as they threw candy to kids on the other side of the street. I didn't see any adults asking for candy, although I saw adults picking up what was thrown at us, and didn't see a lot of candy left on the street for the horses to step on. I did get the impression that some of the most interesting people in the parade didn't want to be photographed, so I respected their preferences.

Also standing in photo-snapping range was a gentleman from Clinchport, who may not look as old as my parents, but is. He and his wife also used to work at the Duffield flea market. He and I waved, but didn't speak, because I could just imagine his wife sitting in the shade, hearing that this man was down on the street talking to another woman. He was standing about ten yards away from me. So of course, around the middle of the parade, a smart aleck who shall be nameless here walked past me and ostentatiously handed him three favors. Good clean small-town joking, except that my experience with 70-year-old women has given me an impression that none of them ever thinks that sort of joke is funny. I have to say that the man from Clinchport had done nothing to deserve that.

Well, the most interesting person in the parade (sorry, Republicans) was Marshal Sabrina Holland. What's interesting about her is that she has lived for forty years with spina bifida. People my age and older learned the phrase "spina bifida" as implying "not likely to live even ten years, or want to," so although those who keep up with medical news knew that this is no longer necessarily true, the existence of an adult with spina bifida in Scott County was a source of surprise and wonderment to many. I'll admit that I wanted to snap a photo of her, and her friends and supporters seemed to want me not to snap one.

The parade included all the standard features. Veterans, R.O.T.C., beauty queens, high school bands, fire engines, horses--fewer horses than I'd expected in rural Virginia. At least three separate Shrines contributed fundraising acts featuring clowns, bagpipes, and stunt vehicles. Two or three dozen antique cars and trucks, including a solid-rust farm truck with a sign advising people to honk if anything fell off, were actually driven through the parade to the bank that hosted the antique car show.

In some years there have been Democratic Party floats. This year there was only a Republican Party float, and I have to admit I didn't clearly see the Republicans on board. I recognized the Kilgores, of course, because they were marching beside the float and handing out miniature coal buckets as souvenirs. This made it harder to focus on less familiar faces farther away. A sign on the side of the float said "Obenshain," but whether it was identifying Candidate Obenshain as present, or merely expressing support for his campaign, I still don't know.

Some people think the most interesting part of a parade are the floats and acts that advertise churches and charities. The "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle club rode slowly, and relatively quietly, in formation. The Lee Smith Singers were on a float, encouraging people to sing along with old familiar gospel songs. Some unimaginative floats represented schools and teams by simply hauling a few students through the parade; a group of cheerleaders did at least demonstrate a simple cheer while they sat in the sun. A prize was awarded to an "Autism Awareness" float that featured two giant jigsaw puzzle pieces that didn't fit together. One church float portrayed Moses in the bulrushes (a cute little girl holding a doll) and one portrayed Jesus calming the storm (a boy in what looked like a recycled Halloween witch's wig).

A well-earned prize went to the Speers Ferry church, who portrayed the act of giving cups of water to people in Christ's name. They enacted this corporal work of mercy so diligently that I think everybody who was in town got at least two little bottles of chilled water. It's entirely possible that this stunt might have averted a heart attack somewhere in the crowd.

An act that garnered lots of laughs and popular support was a hunting club whose members rode all-terrain vehicles, apparently chasing a "Deer With Attitude," which was of course a man in an inflatable costume. Since they came near the end of the parade, I cut through the crowd and reached the shelter in time to see the Deer With Attitude pretending to charge at other paraders. This has been known to happen when adorable little fawns grow up into adult male deer without a healthy fear of humans, and shows why we should never try to make pets of deer.

However, instead of watching the prize winners I started looking for my old flea market partner. He did not seem to be sitting with friends, reminiscing, as I'd expected. He was sitting at the end of a row of chairs and was no longer even in the shade. He and I got up and bought snacks. We found a couple of seats side by side in the shade, but as two older ladies were moving toward the seats, neither of us felt like sitting down. We remained standing, the ladies paused to make full eye contact as they conversed, and a couple of middle school kids plopped down in the chairs.

Due to his hearing loss my buddy didn't mind sitting in the shade by himself while an excessively amplified band performed. I found it easier to enjoy the music while wandering around among the vendors' booths. No restrictions had been applied to the vendors, although charity fundraisers, artists and crafters, and flea market booths had been grouped separately. Having been supplied with a few dollars for the express purpose of encouraging vendors and charities, I spread them around, made a few donations, and scored some vintage goodies. I was thinking of my Significant Other: I spent more money on vintage hardware than on vintage books.

Then I realized that, although it was a nice Town Festival as Town Festivals go, this Saturday was not going to be my day, when I ran into one of my sisters' little friends. Of course I didn't recognize her; she's all grown up. And although she salvaged herself by exhibiting total confusion about which member of the clan I might be, her first guess was that I might be...my mother!

Right...I had been out in the heat for four hours. My extended family includes several black-haired beauties who look enough alike to confuse people we've not seen for twenty years. Most people, I suppose, try to err on the side of flattery and guess that the one they're talking to is one of the younger and prettier members of the family. In my mid-forties I don't really try to look twenty-one any more, although some people claim, in more pleasant weather, that I do. And my mother is often described by comparison with Elizabeth Taylor, and kept her black hair and youthful face for a remarkably long time. But I really don't believe that, even on a hot day, I look...seventy-eight?

So I went home, feeling dazed.

...That was how I intended to end this post when I started typing it last week. Yes, it really has taken me a week to type this report, in between reading, answering, and sharing yourall's e-mail and now apparently another hacking. It's not been a very nice week, either. Some sort of little "summer cold" has been going around. When hardier people don't notice a minor disease going around at all, and less healthy people get pneumonia and go to the hospital, I become peevish and pessimistic...and you should all be glad I didn't post the other things I was thinking. Grandma Bonnie Peters has been diagnosed with "walking pneumonia," Oogesti has spent some days home in bed, one sponsor spent the whole weekend home in bed, and now that I know I'm an immune carrier I've been avoiding Adayahi...e-friends are the only friends with whom I've been in contact all week. Let's hope this coming week will be more pleasant.

UPDATE: Because this post reflects, among other things, my concern about whether the sponsor who went to Duffield Daze with me had a good time, this person wants me to mention that he says it was the most fun he's had all summer.