Fiddling green virgin

green bluegrass festival

Beau says to Kendra  — he’s telling her about his first festival and working up to how he lost his virginity — “I’m standing in the middle of the stage, fiddle clutched under my chin. Full of keylime cookies and a shot or two of Cuervo Gold. Perfect night for a fiddle contest, that’s what I’m thinking.

There’s a few things that can go wrong in a music festival. I didn’t know that really, but I found out. Mostly to do with permits, territory, and misunderstandings that get dug deeper as the week goes by. So I’m standing up there on the stage, and my face hurts, from smiling so much, from playing so hard. You know I don’t have much experience with margaritas, or cocaine, not even with cookies so much what with mom being kinda organic. Oatmeal cookies, honey sweetened, that kind of thing. So I’m pumped on about a dozen keylime cookies;  they have this smell that’s a cross between limeade and lemon fresh pine-sol. I ate a bunch of them, now my mouth is green and I thought I’d better wash it down with either tequila or a margarita, but the margarita was too green for me, so I went for the shots.” He put down the harmonica he’d been fidgeting with and looked up at Kendra, who was listening with a funny, distant expression on her face. Beau wishes he knew what that expression meant.

“So it’s getting late and I’ve been playing with one band after another for a couple days, and this particular night the fields all round are full of frogs and it’s like they’re singing with us. I’m thinking about jug bands and those washboards, things like that, but mostly I’m just trying to keep up. But I’m feeling green, green like keylime cookies and tequila all shook up and then I guess I probably turned wrong or something and I stepped right into the bass player’s amplifier and fell off the stage. The band’s kinda mad, kinda laughing, and all these people are yelling at me to get out and come back when I’m old enough to hold my liquor. And this girl comes up, pulls me up off the ground and takes me out to the back end of the festival grounds. She’s traveling in this purple caravan and she’s more or less pretty, I guess.”

Kendra lights a cigarette and looks at him through the smoke. She doesn’t say anything, but he sees she’s smiling a little, a little smile like a cat thinking wicked thoughts. So he feels encouraged and he goes on.

“I feel sick like a kid eating fried pickles at the state fair and then going on the anvil, which I try to tell her, only as soon as I picture the fried pickles I start to heave and she grabs the back of my shirt and sticks my head in a bucket and then I’m barfing up pretty much everything I’ve eaten the last three days.” He scratches his belly, remembering, and looks up again. Kendra’s looking away, not like she’s mad, more like she’s trying not to laugh. Good sign, he thinks, then tries to get to the part where he breaks his vow, their vow, their abstinence vow. It occurs to him that she might not ought to look so amused, and he wonders, for the first time, what she’d been up to while he was at the festival. His face feels a little tight, like he’s been playing the harmonica for a couple hours, but he keeps going. Got a story to tell, and he’s a man, he’s going to tell it honestly, just like they always said they would.


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August 2009
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