Almost two years ago, on the 4th of July, I went to a demolition derby, in Hatton, ND with D.C. Insider Friend before he was D.C. Insider Friend when he was just wannabe D.C. Insider. It was the first demolition derby I had actually seen, but I’d heard many before since for a while my family lived near the fairgrounds. Because it was a demolition derby, we bought Bud (there’s still some dispute as to whether it was Budweiser or Bud Light), and Jim Beam, and listened to the cars crumple in front of us, got hit by flying balls of dirt, and had a seriously kick-ass time.
Eventually, though, we ran out of alcohol. D.C. Insider said, “I have to go to the bathroom; those people in front of us are drinking, your job is to make friends with them and get them to share.”
This was no problem. While the male half of the couple was a bit aloof, the girl just wouldn’t shut up and was more than happy to share her rum and cherry coke with us. We chatted for quite a while until finally the aloof guy muttered something about “city folk”and gave us a look like we should “get off his land”– we excused ourselves.
Hatton, ND may be a city of 707, but it’s not like Fargo is a teeming metropolis. Also, D.C. Insider and myself had grown up in teeny tiny towns, not unlike Hatton– but aloof alcohol-sharing guy didn’t want to hear that. D.C. Insider was indignant about this turn of events, where I was mostly just confused having never been called city folk before in my life.
Two weekends ago, the Historic Pawtuxet Village in Warwick/Cranston, RI celebrated Gaspee Days and the ritual burning of the HMS Gaspee. The HMS Gaspee was a British ship sent to to colonies to enforce the stamp act. It was a jerk ship, and the colonists had had enough! They burned it in the Historic Pawtuxet Village (back when it was just “Pawtuxet Village”), and this act– not the Boston tea party– started the Revolutionary War. Rhode Islanders are so proud of this feat that they re-burn a miniature Gaspee every year, which does not look as impressive as the burning in this painting.
Being a new Rhode Islander, and a lover of all things a bit ridiculous, I simply had to see this event for myself and make my Jewish Friend see it too. Admittedly, it was a bit slow, the colonial fashion show was rather lame, and Jewish Friend was much happier to ogle all of the cute dogs and try to make friends with them than she was to learn about the history of this historic day.
Finally, as we were waiting by the raffle table to see if we had one any of the 500 crappy (chemical peel), and awesome (basket of wine) prizes they were giving away, the re-enactors wheeled a cannon down to the shoreline and fired it off.
I jumped, and yelped “Jesus Christ, that’s loud!” Then they just kept firing the damn thing over, and over. After about five rounds, I just left my hands clamped on my ears, and muttered “why do they keep firing it?”
“They fire the same number of shots that they fired at the Gaspee.” a woman standing next to me said.
“So, they’re actually trying to set that” (I indicated the fake, miniature Gaspee in the water) “on fire with the cannon?”
“No, some men rowed out there earlier to light it, and they’re hiding and waiting for the appropriate number of shots to be fired before they do it.”
“Well, how many shots is that?” I asked her, thinking that this booming had been going on for quite a while already.
She looked at me a bit like my mother used to when I’d put on an outfit she deemed too ‘wacky’ or like my grandmother when I ordered mashed potatoes with a side of french fries, ” You don’t know how many shots they fire?”