Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Burning Man 12: Monday

We awoke Monday morning and began to build the camp in earnest. The wonderful people over in Pulse had an auger, which really assisted us in putting up the big shade structure. Shortly after that, we began on Mr. E's PVC/parachute shade structure. This went together flawlessly as well, except that the parachute was about 5 times too big for the PVC skeleton. Since we needed the shade, and it was calm, we did some pretty half-ass engineering to deal with the slack--stretched it completely over the Californians' tent, and wadded up a bunch of the other side and piled our water jugs it. The resulting shade structure looked like ass but was fairly roomy and cool. We found out the next day that it was also unsafe.

(Don't worry, no one gets hurt)

We'd been smart and brought a Solar Shower, which is a really great way to take warm showers if you're out camping or your water heater's out, unless you don't pay attention to how long the water's been absorbing sunlight, in which case it's a really great way to burn the shit out of some (probably very sensitive) area of your body. Unfortunately, no one really thought to bring something to hang the damn shower on. We also didn't bring anything to screen the shower with, and this resulted in me holding the shower in plain view of Center Camp (and a hundred people or so), while Dan crouched in a Rubbermaid plastic tub and washed his ass.

Now, this sort of thing happens all the time. Granted, I haven't seen it since, but there's all sorts of people wandering around naked (how they avoid chafing is beyond me), and there's all sorts of people showering, so there must be some people doing both, right? Anyway, it was then that I began to notice Dan's somewhat obsessive behavior regarding personal hygiene.

Personally, I never got around to showering, that year or any other. It sounds gross, but the air's dry enough that there's very little sweat on your body at any given time, which in essence means there's no body odor. I wash my face and hands occasionally, true, but I've never gone in for a true shower while in the desert. This might be why I never get laid out there, but truth be told it's worth it. Besides, you're covered in dust the instant you step out of the shower anyway.

But I think I'm the minority. We've had showers of varying complexity since that first year, and they always get used. And if you've never experienced living in the desert, well, you won't believe me, but it's true.

By the time the flagpole went up (complete with an altered Texas Flag), it was starting to get hot, and we'd gotten to know each other a little bit. I'd also noticed 2 things:

1) People liked to cut through any open area to get into Center Camp from the next street out, and

2) My campmates didn't like that.

I didn't have a problem with it. The whole damn event was a bunch more people than I was accustomed to, all of them doing weird shit, many of them in closer proximity than I was comfortable with. I thought about it like homeless people: as long as the loonies didn't accost me, I was content to let them walk where they wanted. I made certain I left the expensive stuff in my tent, anyway. It also seemed a little arbitrary (and frankly silly, although Burning Man is rife with silliness) to say "this is our stretch of featureless desert floor, and you can't walk on it." "Get your filthy hands off my desert," to quote Roger Waters.

All this really highlighted the fact that by early afternoon on Monday, no one was filling the space behind us. This was intriguing to all three of our camps (the Boyscouts, Pulse, and Loopool, which I probably forgot to mention was our camp name) because any spots left untaken by Monday night were fair game on Tuesday. Pulse was a big group, and they had a big spot but it didn't offer very much privacy--you could spit on at least two and maybe three tents from the road, which has got to be a little unnerving if you've got any weird or secret bedtime or sexual ritual that doesn't involve other people. The Boyscouts wanted to expand their racing area, as well, and while we didn't need much more room we were all for that blank area being filled in with something, so it didn't look like so much of a shortcut.

But then, in midafternoon, I looked up from the book I was reading and saw a very cute pink haired woman, who looked lost, or at least confused. She was also standing in the middle of what was shortly to become Ishkabibble's territory. The New Yorkers had arrived.


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