Sunday, September 12, 2010

This Southern Girl Doesn't Glow -- She Sweats

Yesterday was so intensely hot that sane people were indoors with air conditioning.

Sanity is not my strong suit.

By 9 a.m. I had donned three layers of clothing and was searching for shade at a Special Rodeo. Eleven other clowns and I were among the entertainment for a half day of fun for children with special needs. We were photographed with them. We danced with them. We cheered at their karaoke. Some did rope tricks (note that that wouldn't be me). And all of us sweated.

At one point, I found a way to stand with my arm around Confetti for a photo (we all have rodeo clown names) without touching her wet shirt. She had a leather patch on the back of her suspenders. When Valentine or Geranium stood close to me, I cringed each time a hand would press into my back because I knew visions of wet rags had to be dancing in their heads. One hour in and there wasn't a dry hair on my head. Thankfully the cowboy hat disguised that fact somewhat. But I did fear that some of the smaller kids in wheelchairs and strollers might truly be afraid of the deranged looking woman in crazy makeup, suspenders, bright yellow shirt and wearing leggings. I would have (if it hadn't been me!).

The kids were incredible. Some were inspiring. One girl of probably 9 or 10 but looked to be the size of a 5-year-old and who needed a walker, belted out "God Bless America" with the fervor of an American Idol. Several teenagers dominated the dance floor. One girl could do cartwheels. Her friend happily thought she could too as she bent at the waist and motioned with her hands toward the floor. One young man caught all of our attention as he did a rapid fire reading of the words to "Take this Job and Shove It" occasionally allowing the music to catch up.

The "regularness" of their lives was never more evident as they helped each other, as siblings were jealous of attention paid to the others, as Moms giggled at their antics, as a grandfather helped his acrobatic grandson jump high in the air . . . over and over and over again. They were simply kids having a great time on horses, in wagons; playing with rabbits and laughing at the prickliness of a hedgehogs; and turning their lips blue with cotton candy and snow cones.

My heart was warmed as well as my body!

I had just enough time to drive home, shower (ahhhhhh), and load up the car. Why? Because I'm not content to do one event per day. Noooooooo. Crazy woman books a rodeo event and an Equality Texas gig in one day. In defense of what little grip on reality I have, the rodeo event was purely volunteering. ET was paying me to serve as the event coordinator. And in these lean days, that meant saying yes to them even though I already had something on the calendar.

Minutes after drying my hair, the sweat started pouring once again. I had to drive to the store to pick up ice and lemons. More sweat. I loaded my friend's car with supplies I'd been storing at my house. More wetness. We drove separately to the Heights (about 20 minutes away) and my persnickety AC in my car kicked in about ten minutes into the drive. Yet more moisture. We unpacked at this incredible house that was once a flop house but was now the location of many a gala. With a wraparound porch, huge backyard, art throughout, and both a state-of-the-art kitchen and wine cellar, it's truly the bones of a great event.

I had enlisted friends to make this event one of the great ones. They came through as always. We arranged, rearranged, set up the bar, set up the food, and traversed the emotional landscape of a host with one party in the evening and a Sunday brunch scheduled for the following day.

We transformed ourselves into party-goers with quick changes. My hair was still not dry. And served, photographed and mingled well. Just when I thought that I might not look as though someone threw a bottle of water in my face, the crowd grew to such a level that the AC couldn't keep up. Donation cards became fans. The host felt sorry for me and showed me the one vent in the kitchen I could stand over for immediate relief. I'd almost dried off when it was time to clean up, load the cars and enjoy the convection oven that I now know as my Beetle with the bad compressor.

And yet, when people commented on my performance at the party, I most often heard "energetic." Now when you are a year shy of 50, you've dripped in front of strangers in a strange land, and you still get remarks like that, it's not a bad feeling. A smile is a wonderful form of makeup. Sincere interest in what another is saying adds light to the eyes and complexion. What I lack in physical composure, I make up for with attitude.

A day like yesterday was all about attitude. I learned from the young. I shared with the advocates. And I took a shower when I got home.

Life is still very good ... a little warm, but very good.

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