Alright, I have taken all I can stand and I can’t stands no more! These festival organizers will stop at nothing to quench their thirst for making me miserable. You’re not going to believe what they did this time. It’s horrendous. In the most despicable attempt yet to slow my efforts to enjoy this festival at their expense, they actually made my entire family sick. Not just my wife. Not just my boys. But the girls too. They’re only 6 weeks old for crying out loud! I mean really, what kind of people make babies sick? I don’t even know what to say. I’m absolutely speechless.
I’ll have to admit, I didn’t really put two and two together at first. Initially I thought my family’s ill health had nothing to do with the festival at all, just an unlucky coincidence. But after what happened opening night, it all became clear; it was just another facet of their all out assault on my good time.
The night started very much as I’d imagined it would. The chill of fall was in the air, but the warmth in my chest was beating it back. In my heart I knew, my enjoyment of this year’s festival would be the ultimate revenge on the perpetrators of my literary misery. As I reached the edge of the bowl the breeze coming off the river swept coolly across my face, and I smiled. I wore long johns. Everything was perfect.
I scanned the crowd and saw Ariel sitting off to the side, just behind and to the right of the podium. I thought it would be a great time to show her how much fun I was having. That should get her goat. I tried to hide my excitement and ran over. We chatted for a bit about our kids and complained about the bugs (well, she complained about the bugs. Bugs don’t like the smell of stale cigarette smoke and baby spit up). It was actually quite nice. My plan was working. Even Ariel seemed to be softening to me. Maybe an ally? I couldn’t be sure, but with positivity being crucial to my new strategy, I made a conscious decision to hope.
About five minutes before show time He finally arrived. Ismaila Alfa. And let me tell you, if you think his voice is a warm hug, there is no describing receiving the real thing from him. The scene was dreamy. I handed him his water and we reminisced. I could see Charlene squirming as I soaked it all in. Eventually my happiness must have become too much for her , and without warning she started the show. Poor Ismaila had to scurry to his seat. I felt bad he got caught in the crossfire, but everyone should know by now, there’s a target on my back.
Now earlier I said I thought Ariel may have been softening to me, but the opening moments of the night’s reading soon had me questioning my faith as folly. When she asked me to sit with her, I thought it may have been a olive branch, after listening to the thank yous, I suspected it was merely to ruin my festival with bad audio.
From what I’ve been told, the sound was great in front of the stage, but from where Ariel had me sit, behind it, I couldn’t hear anything. Who knew? I could feel my trademark crankiness rising in my belly. I had to try and stop it or my plan would fall apart. But what was I going to do. I felt powerless. Sadly, I thought, this must be my last stand. Then, out of nowhere, help arrived from the most unlikely of sources. Ariel, festival employee, Bloginatrix, sworn enemy, turned to me and said “don’t sit here, move so you can hear better.” I couldn’t believe it. She was actually trying to help me. After all these years I must have finally gotten through to her. The festival is bad, we must defeat it.
Funny thing is, I decided not to move. Pretty soon Courtney joined us (one of the other bloggers), and we all sat there, together in defiance. The bad kids at the back of the classroom. We shared my coat and stayed warm listening those magic mumblings in the crisp autumn air (well, they put their hands in the sleeves while I huddled under most of it. They must have been reluctant to share it entirely due to my renowned reproductive powers. I don’t blame them. My wife seems to prefer me sleeping as far away from her as possible too).
Even the guy the festival sent to harass me during the reading didn’t dampen my spirits. Though the entire crowd turned to look at me as he loudly asked, if I was his friend who worked at Kustom Kulture, I couldn’t help but grin politely, say no and continue enjoying the ridiculousness that is my life.
The show ended wonderfully with Ismaila rapping and singing. It was better than when I saw Tom Jones. Opening night had been nothing short of perfect. Not only was the reading great, but by the end of the evening I had gained two allies in my battle with this festival.
My guess is this is why the festival has decided to attack my family. If you can’t stop the man, go after his family. But I can tell you right now, it isn’t going to work. It will only make me stronger. Because anytime I feel like giving up, all I’ll have to do is look into my sick babies’ eyes to know why I have to keep going...
It’s because somebody has to think of the children.
Talk to you soon and remember, join the revolution, have fun at the festival.
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Jason Diaz is a Winnipeg-based writer, bookstore employee and handyman (the bookstore business isn't as stable as you'd think). His poetry and prose has been published in dark leisure magazine. He has no idea why he keeps working for these meanies and volunteers coaching basketball to all the artsy kids in Wolseley so they never have to sit on the bench. He has a wife and many children.