Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dirty Mamas Light Fountainbleau On Fire...

Hello there! I would like to introduce myself. I am Tally. Tally Wackinhole. I am what you humanoids refer to as a "gnome". I have to write quickly before I am discovered by the one you refer to as "Garden Gnome" (although I think "Yard Gnome" is more appropriate due to her lack of couth). In fact, I really don't like the fact that you humanoids even associate her with our kind, but I have to admit, I do see the similarity so I will accept the analogy.

Anyway, she appears to be asleep now so I thought I would sneak up here to write my version of the "Dirty Mamas" (as you call them) latest adventure race. You see, I was there the whole time. I think that I can probably give a much more enlightened version of the trip than any reporter can. I have seen things no one else should see, and heard things with my own ears that no one else should hear. For my protection, please keep this record public so everyone will know I exist. You see, I have just recently been released from bondage and fear I may be returned. I have spent the last 5 years hidden away in a box in the home of the one they call "Dirty". I do not question that nickname at all. You people have no idea what I've had to overcome to maintain my sanity there.

For whatever reason I have been set free now and am residing with GG. It is somewhat better, but I am still trying to make my plans to escape. I am hoping that someone will read my plea for help and come rescue me. If not, I am going to make another attempt on November 7th as I think I will be taken away to New Orleans for another adventure race. I am sure there will be ample opportunity to make my get-away there. I have heard many stories about that place, but never seen it first hand.

Well, let me tell you the story before she awakes. I know that much of it may be hard to believe, but I think when you consider those I am writing about it may be easier to swallow. The first I learned about the weekend was when I was taken out of my prison and dusted off. Dirty whispered to me that we were going camping. I don't think she realized I understood her words. I was nervous, but got very excited when I remembered that I had some Wood Gnome relatives in the general area of where we were to go - Fountainbleau State Park. I sat on the table and watched Dirty pack what she thought she would need to go camping. It was kind of funny considering she was only going for a day. I guess we gnomes are used to traveling light.

I got the feeling there was some distress in Dirty's voice when she spoke with GG on the phone. Apparently, the third Mama - Here - was too ill to go camping. There was concern that she might not even be able to race but they seemed even more upset that she wasn't going to go on the camping trip. Obviously their friendship was not a concern enough to warrant staying behind and nurturing their friend back to health as my gnome friends would do. Instead, they easily discarded her and finished packing, convincing themselves that she would join them on race day morning.

I overheard her say something about, "Don't worry we've got the Firefly cooler."

They loaded up the Vomet Comet (a disgusting name for a vehicle I might add) and we set out towards Fountainbleau, or so I thought. It seemed it took forever to get to the campgrounds. First we went to the grocery store to buy a random assortment of food. I saw hot dogs but no buns or condiments, cheesy poofs, vitamin water, propane lighters, marshmallows, and bacon.

We stopped again and I saw a scary mountain man selling firewood out of his home. I witnessed money exchange hands and then got knocked around the back of the van by logs rolling around unsecured. It was awful. Again a stop. This time it was at the Bass Pro store where they went looking for miscellaneous camping gear. They came out with not much more than knee-high stockings. Even I wouldn't be caught dead wearing those.

I have to admit I was getting excited as we drove out of town. I knew I would soon have a chance to escape into the woods and finally be free of my captors! I listened as they talked about nothing of interest and then Dirty fell asleep. I was amazed at how quickly it happened. One minute I hear conversation and the next I hear gentle snoring. It reminded me of my home in the grassy knoll where I would hear the melodic whir of a distant lawn mower as I took my afternoon naps. I felt a sense of comfort in my memories and I knew I would return to that place of happiness soon.

"WENDY WAKE UP!!!" I almost flew out of the compartment I had been shoved into. GG seemed to think it would be funny to awaken her sleeping comrade in such a grotesque and ill mannered way. Neither Dirty nor myself seemed to be amused. I let the annoyance wash away as I realized we were exiting the interstate. One step closer to freedom. Now if they will just hurry up and get there I can make a run for it while they unpack!

What the...? ANOTHER stop?? I see the big yellow letter M I have come to recognize from living with Dirty. I see so many empty bags with that letter on it and always wondered what they carried. It must be special, and I find they have such a unique odor. I peek out of my hiding spot as they drive away to see what was in the bags. It's...it's... food??? I'm repulsed. All of these years and I thought there must be something magical in those bags, as I have seen them everywhere in Dirty's house. I remind myself to calm down and not to waste my energy being disappointed. The two humans disgust me, so I distract myself with my planning.

Finally we enter the campsite and they leave me in the car alone. If only I was big enough to unlock the door. I sit frustrated and wait for their return, convincing myself that I will have plenty of opportunities to bolt. When they re-enter the vehicle I hear them grumbling about a "burn-ban" and how they might not be able to cook their dinner. Didn't these pigs just eat? I am kind of relieved that they won't be allowed to play with fire without risking jail-time or a hefty fine. Of all humanoids, these two do NOT need to be allowed to play with fire. I breathe a sigh of relief.

We round the bend and they finally pull into their campsite. I take another peek as they unload the gear. There is not much to the site. Only a semi-circle drive and a bar-b-que pit. It backs up to some high grass and it faces another campsite that as of now is without any residents. I think my best bet is to go towards the high grass as I know the humans are too scared to venture into it.

I find myself being thrown through the air as the bag I am secured in is tossed out of the van into a pile of camping gear. I watch as these two fools turn a timer on to see how long it will take them to set up their tent. What a bunch of idiots. It is rather amusing to watch them try to read the directions and work together to create a safe sleeping facility. The funniest part was that they were giving each other high fives when they learned it only took them 27 minutes. Really? My people can build an entire town in 27 minutes. Ugh. Humanoids.

As if the hand slapping wasn't enough for them, I found them posing before their tent as if they had just built the Taj Majal. They were sending pics to their loved ones, bragging on their accomplishment. Pitiful. Finally they remembered me and I was set free and put on a cooler. It was a start. I breathed in the fresh air and snuck a peek at how far I'd have to jump to get away. Too high. I had to be patient.

I am just biding my time until I can escape.
Always the extrovert, I watch as Dirty convinces GG to come introduce themselves to the neighbor on their right, who just recently pulled in and set up camp. GG seemed a little hesitant, mumbling something about the UFO that he set out in front of his redneck camper. Eventually she gave in, and I watched as they went to meet their new friend.

"Whatcha got there?" points Dirty towards the UFO. I watch as a rather tattered looking bearded man gets up from his perch and ambles over.

"Its a satellite dish. I made it." He stares at the two women.

"Well I'm Anne. I just wanted to introduce myself in case you hear me screaming in the middle of the night." He looks questioningly at her.

"She's afraid of the critters," explains GG. "She wants you to come save us if you hear her screaming."

I shrink back on my perch on the cooler and think to myself that Grizzly Adams will probably be the reason these two end up screaming tonight.

"Uh-huh." He doesn't know what to think of the two.

"So, where are you from?" Dirty keeps on with her questions.

"All over." He doesn't seem to want to answer the questions. "I live in my camper. I built it." He points to the beat up truck with an apparent living quarter attached to the hitch.

"Well that's neat! Where are you going?" Dirty keeps pestering.

"On my way to Clearwater to dispose of my wife and daughter," he hesitates. "I meant to say, I am on my way to Clearwater to watch the shuttle launch." He awkwardly rocks from side to side and looks through the two women.

Obviously uncomfortable I see GG take her friend by the arm to pull her back to their own campsite. "Ok. Enough being friendly please. Can we at least introduce ourselves to people our own age?"

Not long after they return I hear them discussing building a fire and can't believe my ears. Hello? Burn-ban? Do these humans believe nothing applies to them? They could destroy my entire village if one ember flies through the air into the tall grass. Surely they are joking. I watch as GG grabs an ax and begins to chop the firewood into smaller pieces. Dirty is making cocktails it appears and sitting on her butt. What an interesting pair.
Hey? Why don't you just throw a little gasoline on it while you're at it?

GG takes her kindling to the b-b-que pit and starts to build a tee-pee of twigs and dry grass. This should be interesting. After a good 45 minutes of watching the two of them try to light grass, GG finally uses her brain and finds some paper in her van that she can burn.

At this point Dirty has given up and is focused on texting and drinking her cocktail, but she occasionally throws out a word of support. "Good job. Keep it up. You almost had it that time." I shiver a bit as the temperature is dropping. Finally the fire catches and I watch as they rush to cook their meal.

Wait! What are you doing? Put me down from here! Don't you know I will melt? IDIOTS! They set me on top of the inferno for a minute to take my picture.

As if this isn't bad enough I then find myself standing on a plate next to three charred hot dogs. Oh. Really funny. Hot dogs and a gnome. That's the best you can do? 

I can see the train wreck from a distance. I know how this evening is going to end for me. Badly. I think the change in their behavior might have something to do with whatever it is that they are ingesting. I try to think back to what I saw in their cooler.

It's beginning I think. The stories. They are becoming more erratic and difficult to understand. They think they're funny. They keep eating. Now they are into the marshmallows. Dirty is so proud that she can shove four pieces of chocolate, 2 marshmallows, and 2 graham crackers into her mouth. GG is tearing up about something from her childhood. They keep disappearing to go relieve themselves in the grass I am planning to escape in tonight. Gross. 

I feel they are losing focus...
GG tries to tell a ghost story but misses the scary part. Instead she transforms herself into a ghoul.

It won't be long now...
Eventually they forget about me. I make my escape to the grass and lie very still, waiting for my chance to bolt. They laugh and laugh and the stories won't quit. I pray they will pass out soon or go to bed. Eventually they manage to fumble around the campsite and pick up the cooler and leftover food. I have to admit I am relieved because I did not want to have to run from a raccoon during my escape. I lie as still as possible hoping they will forget about me. 

Suddenly I see GG's hand swoop down to pick me up. "There you are little gnome. You can come sleep with me." I shudder as she puts me in her pocket and takes me inside the tent. "Here. You should sleep well here." She tosses me into the pocket of her knapsack.

Where am I? Walgreen's?
There is rattling all around me and I hear Dirty mumble to GG, "You already took your pills." And then I get hit in the head with a medicine bottle as GG replies, "Oh, I forgot. You sure?" I hold my breath and wait, and it is not long before I hear the two snoring away. Now is my chance. I spend five minutes scaling the tower of medicine bottles and then slide down the zipper of the bag onto the floor. They left just enough room around the entrance to the tent for me to slip through. I run, fast as I can towards the tall grass. I find a small path between the brush. Too small for any human to follow, much less see. I can tell it has been recently used and this fills me with hope. 

I run. I skip! I am SO happy! The cold dewy grass swipes across my face like whiskers on a kitten. Freedom! I start calling out to my relatives in our secret gnome language. "Ooowweeooiioo," I call. "I have returned to you my brothers!" Winded from the adrenalin, I walk for a while until I reach a clearing. A flicker of the familiar scent of goulash cooking over a kitchen fire floats by and I am unsure whether I am dreaming it or if it is real. Soon I find what I am looking for. Signs of life. Gnome life. I see houses in the moonlight. I feel joy.

I call out again. "Ooowweeeeooiioo!" I hear the rustling of the tall grass and recognize the shadows of others of my own stature as they stay hidden behind fallen tree limbs.

"It is me, Tally." I smile. They don't seem so happy to see me. "Don't you recognize me?"

"Tally is dead," says the largest gnome. "There is no Tally anymore. He left the Klan to go live with the humanoids."

Suddenly they swarm me and circle around me forming a tight circle. 

"What are you doing?" I beg. I get no answer, just a look of mischievousness in return. 

"You are not welcome here in the Woodlands. Go back to your own kind. Maybe they will accept your wayward ways."

It's all a blur after that, or I just blocked it out. I stumble back to the tent, pants around my ankles, deciding it is much safer with the humanoids than it is in the grass. Obviously, the country had gotten to these Wood Gnomes and I was the recipient of their deliverance type tactics.
I worked for 10 minutes to scale the lantern and perch over my protectors. I listened as the animals rustled in the distant bushes and was calmed by the deep breathing of my humans. For a moment, I slept.

The least I could do was to stand watch...

I awoke to the sound of GG laughing as she took a picture of Dirty resting in her sleeping bag. Obviously she had been nervous to sleep with nature right outside her door. She had moved me to protect her, along with her ax and hunting knife. It was kind of sweet in a way.

It appears the third Mama has arrived.
Soon the sun was rising and the sound of a car pulled into the drive. "Housekeeping!" I hear as the humans giggle. A shape passes in front of the tent window. "Housekeeping! You like me to make you breakfast?"

"Here's here!" the Mamas cheer. They let her into the tent and they recant their evening as they eat more of the food from the bag with the yellow M on it. Ten minutes later the two campers are changed into their race clothes and are making a run for the nearest restroom as the grease from their breakfast kicks in like dynamite. 

"I'll meet you at the race start!" yells Here as she wants nothing to do with the restroom now.

Here contemplating actually wearing the ugly knee highs that Dirty is sporting.
There is an eerie sense of calm amongst the women. No nerves, and lots of laughs. The best I can figure is that with the late night drinking of the two campers, and the week long illness of Here, they are all on the same performance level and there is no pressure amongst them to keep up with one another. I watch from my perch in GGs camelback as Here and Dirty map out the course. GG is making numerous trips to her van to change her socks, get a pair of shorts (as her tri shorts are almost see-through), and to get wet wipes (as she is also making numerous trips to the restroom and fears that these may come in handy in the woods). The best I can gather is that these are really stalling tactics by her as she does not like to be involved in the navigation process, and does not want to be responsible if she steers her team wrong. I conclude that she is definitely a follower, not a leader.

The pre-race meeting is held and the racers stand for the national anthem. I notice two things immediately. Dirty is facing the flag but refuses to place her hand over her heart. Damn Canadians. Even Gnomes immigrated into this fine country and respect it enough to honor the flag. The one with no excuse however is GG who is totally distracted by trying to put the map and passport on the lanyard around Here's neck. She doesn't even look up until the song is almost over. I am embarrassed to be a part of this group of losers.

The race begins and the women take off. I am left in the pocket of GG's camelback next to a large oak tree. It had to have been at least three checkpoints, which felt to be close to three miles before they came to a stop back at the transition area to pick me up. I hear them laughing at a fall GG took while running across a wooden bridge. Apparently she lost her footing and crashed hard onto her outstretched arm. It wouldn't be the last time she would fall today.

I was slung onto GG's back and we mounted her bike and took off. It was a painful ride. I bounced all over as she rode through ravines and ruts. The high grass covered the numerous holes in the dirt, making every bump a surprise to both the driver and to me the passenger. GG struggled and I watched the other two teammates speed ahead of her. Checkpoint to checkpoint they worked their way through the map, never missing a mark. Occasionally there would be some discussion as to which way was shorter, but a decision was always made quickly. One team, the Oompaloompas (which I have to admit I was attracted to them by their choice of name) seemed to latch on to the Mamas for direction. At one point when the Mama's were trying to make a break for it, Here got a tire caught in a rut and took a nasty fall.

"Oooohhhh! That had to hurt! You okay Here?" GG slammed her brakes on to check on her teammate.

"C'mon let's go!" shouted Dirty.

"I think she tore up her whole right side. You okay?" GG waited for a response as Here tried to wipe the layers of dust off of her and check her arm.

"She's fine! C'mon!" Dirty was getting impatient. Here limped over to her bike picked it up and remounted it without complaint.

"You're tough as nails girl," GG whispered. Both were afraid to speak.

I tried to make an escape at this point, but was soon discovered.
The mystery challenges involved more riding and more running. Extra checkpoints were added into the race for each mystery event. I rode on GG's back as she blindly followed Dirty up a boardwalk looking for another checkpoint. Dirty followed the bridge left and GG kept going straight. Straight. Straight over the edge and by means of a six foot drop into the Ponchartrain. Lucky for both of us it was shallow and the mud along the edge was firm. Otherwise it would have been twice as ugly as it already was. The other two couldn't stop laughing at her and Here pulled her up to safety as Dirty continued looking for the next checkpoint. I have to admit even I got a bit of a chuckle out of that one.

Well, the one point of the day when I knew I would not be able to make another escape attempt was during the canoe segment. You see, if you didn't already know, gnomes can't swim. I was quite comfortable in my pocket of the camelback. What I did not enjoy was being taken out for pictures. 
The canoe ride was actually quite smooth at first. Here was at the helm and GG was steering from the rear. The channels of the swamp were narrow and there were many obstacles that had to be overcome. Large tree trunks blocked the path requiring technical maneuvering of the canoe.

Eventually places were switched and GG took the middle so Dirty could steer for a while. At this point the canoe portion got ugly. Surprisingly, the actual paddling was fast and smooth. I found it was the navigating that created some turmoil amongst the team. The best I could figure was that GG was losing it. Literally. Suddenly she seemed irritable and unable to focus or follow directions. Her only job was to return the team to the canoe put-out location and follow the map to do so. So simple even a gnome could do it. But not GG. Instead she got flustered and tried to hurl the Ipod at Dirty every time she would tell her, "All you have to do is read the map! That's your only job! Just read the map!". 

I witnessed a barrage of back and forth comments of "I can't see the map!" and "Well look at the map!" Finally Here made the connection that GG hadn't gotten enough nutrition and was acting out. They made it to the canoe put-out where they had to run for a few more checkpoints. When they returned to the canoe GG made it clear that she was not going to navigate anymore. She took over the helm and then forgot how to paddle. 
Communication spiraled down quickly. "Paddle backwards!" Dirty would yell. GG would paddle forward. "CHANGE SIDES!" Dirty would yell. GG would not move. Eventually they managed to get into an open area where they could go straight. Here opened a gel and shoved it down GG's mouth. "She'll need water with that!" yelled Dirty. Here handed GG the water. It seemed the fog started to lift from GG at this point, but there was still a distance in her eyes.

Eventually the canoeing came to an end. A little more biking then a little more running and the race would be over soon. They seemed to be doing well until there was one checkpoint they couldn't find. Dirty volunteered to go back to see if she could find it while the other two caught their breath. They took off their camelbacks and rested their bikes on the ground. 

This might be my only chance. I went for it. I leaped out of the pocket and hid by the bike. I tried to make my way around the two, but they kept taking silly pictures while they waited for Dirty. I had to be very still as I think they may have caught me in some. Eventually Dirty made it back and she saw me on the ground and thought I had fallen out. My escape was thwarted. For now.

The last checkpoint required a run across the sand along the shore of the lake and through a path of maize. Dirty took the lead as Here and GG held back. There would be one final mystery event right before the finish line. This would require the three women to work together to scale a triangle shaped obstacle covered with viscquine and saturated with soapy water. The catch was that once over the obstacle the teammate could not help the other teammates over. 

It was decided that the two strongest and larger members of the team would scale the tower and balance on the top and pull GG up. Here braced herself against the frame as Dirty stepped on her thigh for leverage. I watched as GG pushed from below on Dirty's rear to shove her to the top of the triangle. Then Here stepped on GG's thigh while Dirty pulled from above. GG quickly changed position to push and give support to Here's feet. 

Finally it was time for GG to scale the triangle. Her teammates waited, balanced at the top of the frame with arms outstretched to pull her up. She was barely able to reach their hands, but with work, stretched forward enough to grab hold of their wrists. With no one to push from below, she tried to assist them as they pulled from above. She was dead weight for the two teammates to lift, as all of GG's efforts seemed to create counter-force and make the lifting more difficult. The frustration intensified and GG became irritable at her inability to get over the obstacle. She ran and jumped at it, she tried to find a source of leverage, she tried to dry her hands on her knee-highs. Eventually her teammates gave up, stating that they were bruising trying to life her weight. The team deserted the event and took a five minute penalty. They still came out third place in their division.
Food once again took precedence, even over taking a team picture at the finish line
I never had an opportunity to get away during the race, and honestly I am a little gun-shy after my experience with the Wood Gnomes. I feel I will be more accepted in the city, and am more likely to find my family there. So I wait. I wait until next month when I go to New Orleans for the Championship. I think there will be many adventures in New Orleans, and I think I will finally be able to make my escape home.

I need to go now. I hear someone coming up the stairs. I want to tell you one more thing about GG that no one knows though. You see, when she was little she

Oh! I must publish this now or it won't get to you!! Farewell!

1 comment:

  1. Here will be there next time, I promise! As long as you promise that there will be no more ghost stories...or flashlight ghouls. I have to see Dirty fill her mouth with the world's largest s'more. And hear the secret to GG's sordid past...WAKE UP WENDY!!!