Burning Man Day 6 (read all Burning Blog posts here)
BLACK ROCK CITY, Nevada – If you find an unmarked bottle of clear liquid at Burning Man, you:
A) Leave it alone, it could be anything.
B) Smell it.
C) Pour it into your eyes.
Apparently the answer is C, according to my campmate Turtle, a career military paramedic. He needed to wash out the sting of sweaty suntan lotion, but, by nature, is an accident waiting to happen. He once had his head run over by a jeep and once fell out of a helicopter. On that one he was lucky. The sand dunes stopped his fall, though he broke both ankles. Then there is the time he volunteered to be used as a dummy for nitrous tests, but I think that story is still classified.
Turtle is one of the most useful members of Slutgarden. He can climb anything and knows all kinds of knots. Yet, his girlish screams seemed comical after he rinsed the suntan lotion from his eyes. Jesus the Walrus had to pour a gallon of water on Turtle's head to put out the fire.
“What was that?” Turtle wondered; his face and eyes beet red.
“Was it that unmarked bottle on the corner of the stage,” Kevin asked. “That was my rum.”
Moral: Do not put things you find on the playa in your eyes.
While much of the world quakes before gods of vengeance, the Trickster rules Black Rock City. The credo here is “Radical Self Reliance,” which really means “Take care of your own ass because everyone is busy taking care of theirs.” The notion of personal responsibility may be the most revolutionary idea at Burning Man. It means pick up after yourself, hydrate, eat, use suntan lotion and know your limitations. And all things must be taken with tongue in cheek.
Last night, members of Sunrise Coffee played a few rounds of “glow fishing.” They attached a glow stick to a fishing rod and cast it out in the street. As hippies or ravers bent to pick it up, it scooted away. Great fun.
Slipping roofies into drinks is another not-too-rare practice. A person should certainly never accept a drink someone has been carrying, but not sipping. Another campmate, Crackass, staggered in yesterday lamenting how two men gave him a drink and then tried to seduce him. He then proceeded to pass out for four hours on the ground. And he was introduced to a steadfast playa rule: He who falls into an unresponsive slumber shall be tea-bagged, mushroom stamped and clam bitten.
More generalized “tricky” things include switched street signs and purposely bad directions, particularly at this time of week as the virgins and short-timers pull in.
“Virgin” is the term for a first-time burner, and, in reality, Burning Man is just as life-changing as coitus. Virgins don't know their way around, dress like they are attending a Dave Matthews or Peter Frampton concert and ask stupid questions.
Ethan, from Seattle, asked—in all seriousness—if Slutgarden was a pick-up place and, if not, could I tell him where a pick up place was. Understand that we are in the middle of the desert and surrounded by beautiful, half-to-fully naked women. His friend, Brian of Portland, provided the shut-up slap.
“Forgive him,” Brian said. “He's a virgin.”
Kevin is a virgin, too. Moments after learning that Turtle had used his rum as eyewash, he accidentally brushed his teeth with Cortaid. He tried to explain what had happened, but his lips and tongue were too numb.
We get a lot of virgins stopping by Slutgarden to see what we are about. While they need our fashion help, unfortunately, most are just gawkers intrigued by the word “Slut.” Words like that have power in the Default World. Here—where men wear one-piece Wonder Woman bathing suits and some women just wear boots—they seem innocuous. A producer from HBO was supposed to stop by and interview our women about how they embrace the word or some crap like that. She never did. No one was surprised by that. Time moves strangely here.
The mind tracks the passage of time by noting events. Sitcom begins and ends, meaning 30 minutes have elapsed. If you lock a person in a box, they lose track of time. Burning Man has so many notable events that time seems to speed up and slow down, so getting ANYWHERE on time is nearly impossible. Intellectually, a burner may understand it takes one minute to walk a few hundred yards to the porta-potties (which by this point are resembling aim-and-fire butt bomb ranges). But in that hundred yards, he/she has passed a giant fire-breathing dragon bike, an AT-AT, a few hundred naked people, a scarf-cocker
, boots, fur, goggles, hair, blasting techno… and it takes hours to process.