Sunday, February 05, 2006
A Tale Of One City
I don't know about you guys, but I'm exhausted. All the swearing and shouting and jumping around while being weighed down by the socially-acceptable gluttony in celebration of this, the greatest and most widely beloved public spectacles. It's an event that transcends that traditional lines that divide enthusiasts from everyone else (or as they are otherwise known, "women") as we all find common ground around which to come together and drink ourselves into oblivion and eat until we threaten to tear out the stitches holding together our gastric bypass surgeries.

That's right, it was that time of the year again.

Of course I'm talking about the weekend of the annual Riverside Dickens Festival downtown. A rite of mid-winter long beloved in these parts and around the globe (allowing that by "around the globe" I mean people from Riverside who have since moved elsewhere AND who were aware of the festival's existence before they left).

For those of you strange, benighted few who don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, it's a weekend every year in Riverside where some street performers get all gussied up in period dress, put on their best Cockney accents and beg passers-by to take their pictures and/or listen to their scripted stories. Yes, it's the one place every year where Riversiders who possess both a staggering Anglophilia and a world-class tolerance for the utter disinterest of other people can really shine. It's got all the hoary charm of a Renaissance festival, minus the whores. This being a celebration of Victorian England, we get neck-to-ankle dresses with our dropped haitches and Gs and none of the swelling flower-decorated décolletage you would find at a Ren-fest. If anyone is going to notice and then point out a surfeit of wenches, it's going to be me.

As I spent my time down amongst the revelers this weekend in the long, long walk between the deli I ate lunch at and my car, I couldn't help but be swept up into the fantasy of it all. Nothing to me says Dickens like pony rides and flat $3 Sprite out of Styrofoam cups. I kept waiting for Tiny Tim Cratchit to limp around a corner and bless all of us with a squeaky, urchin-y "Why the hell is there a Thai food stand at the Dickens festival, for Christ's sake? Oh, and Gor blezzus."

I know it sounds like I'm being sarcastic or complaining, but I'm not. People take this very seriously and work very hard to put it all together. That's why I didn't mention to ANY of them the odor problem arising from 150 reenactors congregating together in heavy wool clothing on an 80-degree February day in SoCal. Because I respect them.

It wasn't all bad. I think they were largely successful in conveying the words and spirit of Mr. Dickens' stories. Now whenever I see a street blocked off that I need to go down and no immediately obvious alternate routes, whenever I'm walking the 6 extra blocks I'm forced to walk by any sort of event like that, I immediately think of Charles Dickens, the crowded streets of 19th century London and how it probably pissed him off when the goddamn Molière Festival was going on and all the twats in giant wigs were Tartuffe-ing all over Regent Street when all he wanted to do was to get to the Physick for a good leeching or whatever.

So there was that. And no, in case you were wondering, I didn't try the meat pies.

And then on Sunday we watched some football game. It was OK, I guess.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.0



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