Monday, June 16, 2014

Washboards and shitters

I'm trying to catch up after my adventuring this past weekend. I drove somewhere into the mountains of Ohio to visit my son Drake and his fiance Montana. I only got lost once twice, but I made it to their house, albeit an hour later than I should have. It was a long drive, but shortly after I got there, when Montana suggested we go to a washboard festival, I was ready to rock and roll.

Not kidding. We went to a washboard festival, and it was way more fun than the name would suggest. I wanted to go for two reasons. First, I've got plans to go to a blues jam near my house this week, and last week they posted on their Facebook that they needed a washboard player. I thought, Hey, I don't play the washboard. I should learn. So I wanted to go the festival and buy myself a washboard. Turns out I could have bought one on Amazon, but that would have ruined all the fun.

The second reason I wanted to go should be obvious: washboard festival. I wanted to be the first in my class to go. No telling what a person might see at a washboard festival. I wasn't really expecting much, but we knew we could get some bourbon chicken there if nothing else.

Turns out the washboard festival was bigger and more fun than we anticipated. They had 4 stages with bands from all over the country, a bunch of vendors -- both food and stuff, and even a little free carnival for the kids. We were impressed by almost everything, including the tricked-out washboards. (I confess I did not take this photo, but somebody did take it at that very festival.)

I even bought a washboard that I will learn to play and probably even take to the blues jam one of these nights. It might be a while before I add on cowbells, cymbals, clown horns, and tin cans.

I don't know if you noticed up there, but I said we were impressed by almost everything. One thing I didn't enjoy was the many derogatory comments I heard about President Obama, and the assumption that anybody within earshot would agree that he's an idiot who has ruined this country. The casual derision threw a note of ugliness into an otherwise wonderful occasion.

Here's an example. Montana and I needed to use the pair of portable toilets we found down a side street. I had just been wondering why so many people seem to poop in those things instead of doing it at home before they leave. Seems like way more than you'd expect, like maybe they save it up or something. I haven't figured that out yet.

Anyway, we finished and a woman with a little girl took one potty and Drake took the other. Montana and I snuggled up against a brick wall that was still warm from the sun and hadn't taken on the night's chill. As we stood there puzzling about poop, a middle-aged guy walked up and noted that both potties were in use.

"Looks like the Obamas are full," he said. Or I think that's what he said. Another one of those derogatory comments, that I know.

I stared back at him for several seconds deciding what to say. I imagine I had that look on my face that causes my daughter Elvira to slip her cell phone into her back pocket because she expects I'm going to take it away. The guy apparently didn't notice; he was still laughing at his own joke.

I stared at him a little harder. "I don't get it," I finally said, with no warm brick wall in my voice.

He gave one of those "aww, c'mon" frowns, laughed again and said, "Shitters. They're shitters. The Obamas are full. The shitters ...." And then he laughed again, totally in his own shitty world.

I did not laugh. I'm not sure what Montana was doing. She's a paramedic. She was probably going over the procedures for pulling a middle-aged asshole's head out of a portable toilet full of shit while holding her future mother-in-law back with her foot.

I was still staring at him, trying to decide whether to engage, and knowing my time was better spent just enjoying the warm bricks and the odor of porta-poop drifting on the night air.

I opened my mouth and took a breath just as Drake came out of the toilet and gestured for the guy to go right in. He may have whispered, "Hurry up. Your life is in danger out here. You're safer in the shitter. Move along."

As he walked up to us I said, "I'm being good. I didn't say much."

"I know," he said. "I heard." He got us walking down the street away from the temptation to push that portable toilet over on its side. He avoids having to bail me out of jail, just like any good son does. He also doesn't want to have to defend my honor to the type of person who calls the President a shitter.

You know, I don't give a fuck what that guy thinks of President Obama. I really don't. Opinions and assholes and all that. But the very least he can do is respect the office of the President of the United States when he opens his stupid mouth in public. The very least. I had to live through not one, but two, Bush presidencies. And let's not forget Reagan. I kept telling people there was something wrong with him, but nobody else seemed that concerned with a little touch of the Alzheimer's. All those agonizing years of economic destruction and flagrant lies and bungled governance, and I never resorted to calling them shitters to strangers. I can't understand why this guy can't get through the rest of Obama's term with a civil tongue in his head.

The fact that the majority of the people there would have laughed with him is no defense. Obama won the election fair and square -- at least as much as our election system allows for such a thing. So shut the fuck up and take your shit in the free public shitter. The toilet paper is free too.

Anyway despite those few seconds, which I have made far more important than necessary, we all enjoyed the washboard festival. People were laid back and polite. Not many were walking along smoking and polluting the air behind them, which can't be said for a lot of festivals and fairs. The drinkers were corralled in the beer garden. Lots of families walked around enjoying the music, the food, and the rides.

Most important was spending time with Drake and Montana. I've learned that peace is usually more important than trying to teach a stranger a lesson about civility. Or maybe he's just lucky Drake zipped up quick and got him the hell away from me. We'll never know.


  1. Shame that one guy had to ruin the festival, but it sounds like it was a blast - I want a washboard now too :)

    1. You should get one! They seem simple enough to play, and a lot of fun too.

      Fortunately, that guy didn't really ruin our good time. He was just a story. It's always easier to write stories about things that piss me off than about how good the pulled pork tasted. :-)

  2. I have had that "respect the office" conversation with lots of folks lately, too, seems I am a minority of folks who feel that way. Hang in there, I'm with you!

    1. It's a matter of simple civility. If the guy wanted to talk politics, I would have ..... nah. I don't give a shit what he thinks. I just don't want to listen to his crappy comments.

  3. I think this goes beyond mere civility. I believe that racism is at the core of many of these anti-Obama comments, and it makes me sad and angry.

    1. Racism is definitely a factor, although I don't think Bill Clinton fared much better.

  4. I've heard the lament to respect the office of the Presidency from others and I think we liberals have selective memory about what we may have said about certain former Republican presidents. I know I've made many disparaging remarks in the past and probably will in the future!

    1. There's a big difference between saying to a friend, "He lied to us about his actions in the Middle East" and "I'm on the toilet taking a big Obama" to a stranger.