A Tale of two Garths. Chapter 33 – I don’t speak Chinese.


After KC’s brainwashing, things were a little strained between us. Thankfully the cavalry showed up in the shape of one large RV packed with four very close friends. I swear when Ashley, Sam, Becky, and Mark piled out of the RV it was like a breath of fresh air. Garth and I welcomed each of them with giant hugs and beaming smiles.

“I can’t wait to introduce you to everyone,” Garth told them as he led them towards the group of people that were poised and ready to change their perspective on pig and pig type products. One by one we wove our way through camp like a smiling, hugging snake. Each camper welcomed the rookies into their fold.

“I hear you’re a musician,” Dee said to Sam.

“So glad to meet you. Garth and Stacy told us so much about you,” Sheryl mentioned to Becky.

“Welcome to the roast,” Glenn added, handing them beers. Becky, Mark, Ashley, and Sam just stood back in wonder at all the kindness coming their way. Being from Los Angeles this had been a far cry from what they were used to.

“This is so great!” Becky exclaimed.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” I told her. “Wait till the pig gets here. Rex is on his way back with it now.”

Around two beers into our catching up and 20 or so more introductions the large blue pick-up pulled up onto the site. You could just see the top of the hoofs peeking over the bed of the truck.

“Is that is?” Becky asked me.

“Yep,” I said grinning at her excitement. By looking at her you would have thought it was Christmas and Becky still believed in Santa Claus. She was enthralled. The men grabbed the giant pig out of the back of the truck and pulled it onto the wooden makeshift table that had been set up just for its arrival. As the spit entered its usual hind orifice on our dead pork friend, I turned my head in shame. I’ve seen it before. But it’s still so wrong. But Becky stepped closer to the pig and watched the men during their 26th year ritual. Then the guys grabbed the chicken wire and began to wrap the pig so it wouldn’t fall into the fire. And that’s when Becky just couldn’t take it anymore. Next thing I knew there she was, a tiny blond amongst the men. Wrapping and pulling. In the 26 years the roast had been going on a woman had never joined in on preparing the pig. Rex looked at Becky in utter amazement as she grunted struggling with the wire. Becky had earned her place and it only took her a little over two hours to become the most popular person in camp.

Once the pig was set up and the fire was lit we were free to relax and eat. The work for the day was done. Just like the year before we all dug into green chili this and green chili that. As night began to fall on the camp our bellies were full and our spirits were high. And that’s when the musicians that were already on half tilt took the stage. I could just see Sam itching to join them as they sang drunken songs out of tune.

“Doesn’t Sam play guitar?” someone in the crowd shouted.

“Get up there Sam!” someone else added. Sam took the stage and something beautiful happened. He could actually sing. Not like the rest of us, myself included, that were off key and replacing forgotten words with random humming. Everyone went wild. We actually had a band. People got up and danced, I grabbed a tambourine, and the smell of the next day’s feast reminded us all why we did this every year.

After a couple of songs people started settling back into their seats and sat back and enjoyed the show.

“Is it mushroom time?” Becky’s boyfriend Mark whispered in my ear. But I just did mushrooms like two nights ago. I probably shouldn’t….

“Hell yeah, it’s mushroom time!” I replied. Mark, Garth, Adam, Ashley, Becky, and of course myself all made our way back to the RV to take another trip down hallucinogenic highway. We all grabbed breakfast bars to try and hide the dry, horrible taste of the mushrooms as we chewed down on their caps and stems.

It didn’t take long before the mushrooms took affect.

“Do you see the short men in the bushes?” I asked Ashley as we sat back watching the light from the fire play tricks with our minds.

“No.” she said looking a little freaked out.

“Are you going to be okay?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you want to go closer to camp?” She shook her head no. Where we were sitting was not exactly what I would call mushroom friendly. We were on the other side of camp staring at everyone beyond us through heavily dark bushes and the fire wasn’t helping the shadows any.

“Are you sure?” I asked as I heard mushroom-laced giggles come from inside the RV.

“I’m going to go towards the fire. Come out when you’re ready,” I told her as I made my way to some much-needed warmth. I sat down on a long bench amongst the crowd and just sat back and watched everyone interact. I was fascinated. And that’s when the show really started. Rex stood up a couple of feet in front of me with the fire on the other side of him. All I could see of him was the shadow of his body, hat, and beard as he regaled us with his stories of how he made a living when he was younger by selling weed to devil worshippers in the Grand Canyon. He is possibly the most interesting person I have ever met, I thought to myself as I watched him command the attention of the entire camp.

“Stacy,” someone or something whispered at me from the pine tress on my right. I looked to my right to see Adam’s face peek through the trees in a giggle.

“I’m a wood nymph,” he told me before he disappeared onto the darkness. He is. I think he really may be a wood nymph.

“You know it takes a strong mind to do mushrooms in a crowd.”

“Ahhh!” I screamed a little as I practically jumped out of my seat. As I was talking to the wood nymph, Rex had snuck up on me and was now in my face with his fantastic beard and all.

“What?” I asked him as he moved closer to me.

“I said it takes a strong mind to do mushrooms in a crowd.” And as he said this I realized I was the lone shroomer sitting among the relatively regular people. All I could do was reach out and stroke Rex’s beard I was so torn at that moment. I was so happy that he came up and spoke to me because I found him fascinating, but at the same time I was feeling a touch claustrophobic due to the invasion of my personal space.

As the night wore on the elders started to make their way towards their tents.

“Don’t forget, rookies have fire duty,” Glenn yelled at the nubies before he went to bed. We hated to break it to the happy shroomers that they were now officially on pig duty. Meaning, we know you’re having a good time, but if you see Adam skipping through the woods, you’re not allowed to go join him. You have one job and one job only. To make sure that pig does not burn.

Not wanting to abandon Mark, Becky, Ashley, and Sam to the cold night, Garth, KC, myself, and two other people decided to keep them company for as long as we could.

“You know I hunt mushrooms,” the dark haired man next to me said.

“Like with a gun and stuff?”

“No,” he said back with a laugh. “I actually study them. I climb mountains looking for them. You should come with me some time.”

“Yeah. Sure,” I told him like I had any intention of leaving the chair I was in, let alone hike up a mountain to look for mushrooms that weren’t magic in nature. And then he just kept talking on and on about all kind of things until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had tears rolling down my eyes from laughter when I finally confessed to him that everything he had said to me for the last 15 minutes or so had all been in Chinese. That’s when I knew it was time for me to go to bed.

***

The pig turned out amazing as usual and from there on out the RV foursome had an open invitation to the pig roast every year. We all talked about being the next generation and taking the torch when it would eventually be passed on to us. Keeping the tradition alive and the pig roasting. I had the man I loved and wonderfully close friends. I went back to LA rejuvenated. Alive. And more naive than ever.

To be continued…

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