“five dollar bite”
Once we got used to the 94-degree dry heat (it doesn’t just rain here), the blocked-up traffic jams (a Governors Conference protest) and the maddening crowds, this year’s Bite of Seattle charity/festival didn’t turn out so bad.
My husband Eddie set the dour mood immediately by driving five miles over the speed limit the entire way down there, face a beet-red from the dry heat – and not an air conditioner in sight – then flipping out at the drivers presumably high on pot weaving in and out, slowing things down, cutting in front of him, not getting out of their own way, taking his free parking spot, and the protestors, causing the cops to come out in full force, blocking off a good portion of downtown’s major thoroughfares, forcing us to drive past the Seattle Center’s full parking lot and unable to access the secondary option at Tower Records temporary trailer lot without driving all the way back around jam-packed Denny Way again.
“I don’t understand this. Yesterday when I was here for the gig, there were hardly any people around.”
“Good thing you didn’t have to schlep your equipment through this mess, then.”
Too late. I was already bugged, because Eddie was bugging, and I knew if the situation didn’t clear up soon – meaning, the weather turned cooler and it rained like the weather gods promised it would, the crowds parted and dispersed and we found a free parking space within walking distance – I’d be as irritated, enraged and annoying as him.
The last place you’d ever find middle-aged me is outdoors, with the sun out, the temperature nowhere near the low-70s, and surrounded by too many strangers. Yet, there I was on a perfectly ugly Sunday, navigating through hordes zig-zagging this way and that, trying to predict which ones would dart in my direction, trying not to knock down little old ladies and half-dressed teeny-boppers, on purpose, for just standing there in the middle of the crush, sweating buckets, diaper and underwear sticking to every pore of my buttcheeks...
...For five dollars worth of a bite, which, by all intents, should be a full-on meal. Eddie’s always complained that these Taste ofs and Bite ofs should cost at the maximum $2; that way, people can get a sample of a lot more variety from a lot more booths. (They do suggest you bring lots of friends to share one plate with.) Instead, you blow $10 on two separate items and you’re shot for the day.
Normally, we go home. Yes, we’re the kind of tourists who only travel for the food (and the five-star, all-access cable, 24-hour room service), leave the souvenirs, rock climbing and exploring to them. Same with festivals.
Only this time, we wound up on a shaded hill overlooking one stage featuring rhythm & blues cover bands every hour on the hour. One of us would go foraging off for a bite, bring it back, share it, then the other would go. It finally felt cool enough to breathe, as I stood there under two nut trees, praying to God the chain-smoking homies would stay away so I could enjoy these mediocre bands in peace and for the most part, they did, so I did, with the Space Needle a nifty landmark in the foreground.
The next stop, maneuvering through the crowds towards another stage, closer to the huge water fountain, more shaded trees, to catch a band Eddie’s familiar with, three of the members being in gigs together with him in the past. Type A! performed decent enough covers of soul/funk artists like Chaka Khan. One of the former background singers, red-haired Keely, in one of Eddie’s Steely Dan tribute bands actually managed to almost do the Chaka Khan high-pitched wail without screaming.
And our little James got a chance to run in circles, say hi to as many strangers as he wanted (within our permitted radius) and dance his funky chicken dance with a few little girls, while stealing bites of a swirly cone from his dad (those two need to learn to share).
It almost felt... normal, y’know?
I even veered off my usual comfort zone, a bratwurst and a pizza, with a piroshky (salmon and cream cheese) as dessert... by trying nothing but New Orleans Cajun/Creole, some jambalaya, some etoufee, a crawfish beignet. I know, how totally insane to ingest hot, spicy food in the hot, spicy weather. But the adventure!
Towards the end of the day – we managed to stick with it for almost five full hours straight – I almost remembered what it was like to be a kid, with my kid friends, running around in the green grass, running through a large water fountain, making eyes with the cute little boys, dancing to the live music, feeling my father and mother finally relax and unwind. Maybe back then, they almost remembered too.
Then, it was back home to the relentless reruns of VH-1’s summer special, “I Love the 90s,” or the more appropriately titled, “TV nobody Michael Ian Black ruins a good series with his moronic observations and what passes for dry wit when that Hal dude should’ve been on more.” I found it strange that I remembered almost nothing of their version of the ‘90s highlights, yet more of the ‘70s.
Memory is strange like that.
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