It's still raining. The Rose Festival, (an annual fertility and sacrifice of the virgins celebration when the sailors come upstream to spawn) always happens in the rain. In fact, I remember only three years when it didn't rain on the Rose Parade, and one of those was back in 1980 when we had an ash fall from Mt. St. Helens. All those little kids. squatting on the curb in their particle masks, eagerly awaiting the marching bands which couldn't play because of the ash, and the equestrian groups which had to cancel because the ash was too hard on the horses, and the floats, which were delayed because the ash got into the motors and made them seize up so by the end of the parade, all the floats were being pulled by tow trucks.
No chance of that this year. It's raining. Men will arrive at their chosen viewing spot about 3 AM and start setting out chairs, marking their territory with duct tape, hunkering down in small pop-up tents (which have to come down at sunrise) or just draping themselves in blue plastic tarps and growling at possible interlopers.
After sunrise, the women and children begin to straggle in, bearing coffee and pastries, cocoa in thermoses, lunches in ice chests. Two hours before the parade is due, every possible square inch of sidewalk will be occupied, kids will be playing in the closed-off streets, (Wise mothers bring sidewalk chalk and extra blankets) vendors will be strolling along, selling those nasty plastic horns, sparkly princess wreathes with ribbons, balloons, damp popcorn, wilting cotton candy, peanuts in the shells and whatever the fad of the day may be (deep-fried pickle on a stick?) Just about the time you decide that if that f----ing kid blows that f----ing horn one more f----ing time you will f----ing tear his f----ing little head the f--k off, you hear the distant rumble of Harleys and you know the vanguard is approaching. Motorcycle police proceed the parade to clear the way. Everyone who had flowed out onto the street has to retreat, along with their ice chests and lounge chairs. The sidewalk is jammed back to chest. Some gallant young men may take girlfriends up on their shoulders so "the poor lil thang can see."Not realizing that the parade will last well over an hour and that poor li'l thang will get heavier by the minute until, right as the Multnomah County Sheriff's mounted patrol is passing, his knees give way and he dumps her into the crowd.
On the street, Princesses will smile and wave from the back of convertibles or from the back of their rodeo mounts or from the float representing their local festival, their beautiful garments dimly glimpsed through their clear plastic raincoats. At the head of the parade route, drum-majors and baton twirlers will perform with élan and panache. Toward the end of the route, they will trudge doggedly by, grimly determined just to survive to the end. The rain comes down, uniforms become saturated, cold and heavy. Sodden socks in the marching shoes begin to squish, and you know that manic kid whaling away on a soggy snare drum has got to be on drugs. You wish you had some too. And at last the street cleaners crawl past, roaring brushes sweeping up litter and debris, small dogs, and anything the popper scoopers may have missed.
Then begins the exodus. Everyone has to pack up their chairs, their ice chests, their kids and all the cheap trinkets they bought to keep the kids quiet. Nasty plastic horns get broken or "lost" and about a hundred thousand people begin to disperse. Public transport is impossibly crowded. Parking lots are nightmares. Over-stimulated kids are screaming. Overwrought parents are snarling. Anyone who does not actually have a child in tow slinks into the nearest bar to wait until the crowd thins. Intrepid souls head for the "Fun Center" to enjoy the rides, games and itinerant vendors of choppers in hoppers, miracle car polish, and magic beans.
I, on the other hand, will be in my own cozy home, enjoying tea, angel food cake and strawberries, and gentle conversation with other ladies while all this madness proceeds downtown. And on Sunday, I will catch the highlights on TV. I no longer need to have my toes trodden to feel I have truly experienced parade.
Knitting at my house on Saturday. I'm thinking maybe cheddar biscuits with ham salad for a savory. what do you think?