You will notice the little progress meter thing at the bottom is celebrating because I am done. Unfortunately, I still have three chapters to add and I am already 20,000 words over my goal. As I suspected, it is going to come in at 165,000 words. I told Paul Stevens it was 165,000 words, but I was trying to get it back down to 135,000. He said I was going in the right direction and still asked to see it, so I think I will be all right. For one thing, I have four songs in the book that can be deleted. I love my ballads, but they are killable. Aside from that, I have a bad habit of being redundant, so I think I can get it down there without taking out something that will be crucial later.
I debated on what to post about today. I’m still excited about the Surrey experience, but the elves between my knees is also interesting, or at least it is to me. Then there are the mandarin and mint undies. Tomorrow, I will have a real treat for you. I hope, if I get it done. I do want to get these last chapters transcribed from my chicken scratching to the computer.
Let’s go for the elves.
Several years ago, I was in an accident that screwed up my back. I was taking therapy and part of it involved working out in a swimming pool. My regular therapist was a lovely lady who also taught dance. Her name was Beth and, for whatever reason, our personalities went together like a hand in a glove. She was the perfect straight man and gave me lots of opportunities to blather on about whatever. The down side of this is, when I get wound up, I go anywhere the muse leads me. Nothing is off limits. Since I can’t swim, and am really afraid of water, all she had to do was threaten to drag me to the deep end of the pool and leave me if I got too out of hand.
“Beth, Beth. What are you doing?”
“I’m taking you to the deep end to drown you. You’re a horrible person, Julie Weathers.”
Even though she did drag me to the big people part of the pool several times, I dearly loved her. I think it’s something like the Stockholm syndrome.
Since we all got along so well, and we all liked country music, it seemed only natural we should go to the Garth Brooks concert together. The problem was, Garth Brooks was in his heyday and it was going to be a sold out concert. No problem, we would take turns standing in line…for six days. Odessa really hasn’t got the standing in line for concert thing down to an art, so standing in line meant taking out lawn chairs and staking your claim. It kind of reminded me of the pictures of the Oklahoma land rush. One of us sat in the chairs for a few hours and, as long as someone showed up periodically, life was good. The day the tickets went on sale, you had to be there in person, though. Each person had a limit of how many tickets they could buy to curb the scalpers a bit.
I’m normally not a concert person. I don’t particularly like crowds and I think listening to music at home is usually better quality anyway. However, Garth was supposed to put on a great show and he had taken a lot of hints from Chris LeDeaux, who put on fantastic shows. It was going to be an experience. (I have no idea if that is a good video. I have no sound on this laptop. Yes, it’s sad. I haven’t listened to Deadly Handsome Men in weeks.)
People camped out overnight because we were warned the day before we would lose our places if we weren’t there. Luckily, we had some single people in our group who thought this was the great adventure. Don would not have been understanding about me sleeping overnight in a concert line. He was already griping about me going to the concert anyway and I had put in very little time as a placeholder. A couple of days before the tickets went on sale, Ms. Organizer and his friend Ms. Cheerleader, made up some lovely numbers to hand out to everyone so no one tried to change their positions. They were very crafty and I suspected at least one of them was a kindergarten teacher.
“Attention! Attention! John is going to pass out numbers we made so everyone knows where they are supposed to be and no one cuts in line.”
The numbers were quite lovely and they had even signed them so no one could counterfeit them. Or, perhaps they just took great pride in their work. I took my number and thanked John. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if someone refused to take their number. I hoped a brawl would break out and there would be an intriguing news story on the news about someone being beaten with a cardboard number. This is Texas, after all. Strange things occur all the time. To my great disappointment, everyone meekly took their numbers without protest. I think it was because we were all afraid this was something official. Our two cheerleaders certainly acted official and had the bossy butt routine down to an art.
When things like this happen, I take it as a sign from heaven this is going to be an interesting experience. It’s like foreshadowing. Pay attention, girl. Something odd this way comes.
Did I tell you all Lisa Norman designed a web site for me? (Pretend this is a George R.R. Martin novel and this is a new character POV.) She did. If you click on the dog picture, a picture of me comes up that was taken about that time with the hat I wore then. Please note the picture was taken fifteen years ago. Time has not been kind to me and I now look like death warmed over. Pay attention to the hat. It’s a 75x Resistol that sold for $450 at the time, but is a $750 hat. Hats were a lot cheaper then and better quality. The hat I have now is a 100x and not nearly as nice as the old one.
So, there we were at 7 a.m. the morning the tickets go on sale. It’s pouring down rain and it’s cold since this took place in the late fall. I couldn’t find my hat protector. (Sort of like a condom for hats.) I trudged out in the rain with my trusty hat, full-length burgundy leather coat and the most waterproof boots I have. Surely we wouldn’t be in line that long.
A few of the more intelligent people brought umbrellas. I, being the type who thinks umbrellas are for sissies, had none. Well, I do now, but I didn’t then.
I did, however, bring a large box of Keebler elf cookies, plus some other snacks. The cookies are like animal crackers only shaped like elves. I may not believe in umbrellas, but I do believe in carrying food in case you get snowed in somewhere.
I and my elf cookies were very popular as no one had eaten breakfast before they left home. The problem was, elf cookies and pouring down rain don’t go well together, so I kept them inside my coat when they weren’t being passed around. The other snacks went very quickly and I only had to keep up with the elves.
A few people offered to let me get under their umbrellas, but it was crowded and I had my hat on, so I declined. “No, that’s all right, I have my hat.”
After thirty minutes of standing in pouring rain, even the best hat becomes soaked. My lovely Resistol weighed about twenty pounds and was dropping sadly. My boots were still resisting water and my coat was repelling rain, but hats were not made to take this much water. Plus, being 100% beaver fur felt, it soaked up water like a sponge.
There were two guys in front of us in line who had light jackets on and looked like drowned rats. One of them, who looked like a young John Astin, took a liking to me. Did I ever mention I attract strange people like a magnet? They started talking to me and told me all they did was travel around the country, going to Garth Brooks concerts. Seriously. They hadn’t missed a concert in two years. I asked them how they survived and they told me they had some kind of income so they didn’t have to work. Interesting. I thought briefly about asking how a person acquires this steady income without working, but I was afraid they would tell me and then they’d have to kill me.
Even though they were soaked to the bone, our two intrepid friends from Oregon were feeling no pain. They giggled at things like leaves floating in a rain puddle. They were higher than a kite, probably naturally happy anyway, (Who wouldn’t be if all you did was go to Garth Brooks concerts?) and they were all mine. No one else in line interested them, so I had the dubious pleasure of being the object of their undivided attention. Actually, I didn’t mind. I was pretty sure Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum would wind up in a story somewhere along the line.
We visited about what their favorite songs were and so forth. They told me in great detail about Garth’s different concerts and how awesome he was. Our two fearless groupies got distracted by something and abandoned me. I think someone invited them under an umbrella or something. Let’s face it, my hat was keeping me fairly dry, but it wasn’t big enough for two people. Plus, the brim was now drooping down to about my nose. I had to lean my head back to even see. Perhaps they noticed a worm. Whatever it was, they temporarily lost interest in me.
“Where are the elves?” someone shouted.
My hands were cold, so I had them shoved in my pockets and had the box of elf cookies safely clenched between my knees where they were nice and dry.
“Between my knees. Just a minute.”
Mistake. Mini Astin perked up like a prairie dog. He peered up under my hat, which meant he was really close. “You have elves? Between your knees?”
I nodded, hitting him in the face with my drooping hat brim.
“Whoa, dude. Come here. She has elves between her knees!”
Tweedle Dum raced back. This was obviously more interesting than earth worms or whatever had distracted them.
Mini Astin peered back under my hat again. “Are they real? Can I see them?”
I’m sure I had the Miss Kiersten look going on with the raised eyebrow about then. She has changed the picture on her blog, or I would show you the look. I’m friendly, but if you’re close enough to be under my drooping hat brim, you better be planning assault with a friendly weapon.
Are they real? I don’t know what these two are on, but I want some.
“They’re cookies,” I said and pulled the box out.
Both of them giggled.
I gave them each a handful of cookies, which resulted in even more giggling as they compared their elves. Then they played with them.
“Here I am walking through the forest when a big bear jumps out.”
“Oh, no! He got me. Help! Help!”
More uncontrollable giggling.