Report on Septemberfest

Photo Credit: Lon Shapiro for legal purposes. Credit Gutbloom for the ham-fisted addition of the woman in the center.

You were invited. I hope you came. Hereafter lies my recollection of events, but my memory is faulty and, as is the case with most humans, I choose to remember that which I want to remember and leave the rest to be ravaged by time.

You may have experienced Septemberfest differently. If so, I encourage you to share your recollections in the comments below. That will give me a chance to tell you that you are wrong and that you don’t remember what you say you remember. In that way I will serve as your metafictional older brother whose job it is to be at the ready to invalidate your experience and mock you for having the nerve to assert that you know anything about anything.

Don’t worry if you missed the invitation. It is right here, and if you go back and read the invitation, you have gone back in time, which will allow you to attend Septemberfest even if you only found out about it after the fact.

The pep rally the night before the football game didn’t go well. I was stacking pallets, brush, and the wicker furniture that didn’t sell at the Kiwanis White Elephant Sale when the Mushmaguntic Fire Department pulled up.

One of the firemen got out and asked me if I had a burn permit. I lied and said, “Yes.”

He said, “No you don’t. The only way you would have gotten a burn permit is through us, and we haven’t issued any burn permits since August on account of the drought.”

The truth is, I didn’t even know you needed a burn permit and was unaware that there was a drought. I may have noticed that Percy had been watering the lawns and piñata court more than usual, but a drought? There has never been a drought in Mushamaguntic. I decided to tell Mr. Fire Safety that.

“There’s never been a drought in Mushamaguntic,” I said, “A crisp day for us is when the fog burns off by noon. When did we become such a fucking nanny state? No bonfire?”

“You can thank global warming,” he said.

I told him that I didn't believe in global warming.

“I don’t believe you’re going to have a bonfire here tonight,” he said, “and in the cage match between my belief and your belief, your belief is going to end up cuffed to the bench of the drunk tank downtown.”

Fucking firemen. They’re just like cops but with bigger trucks, boots, and hats.

“What bullshit,” I replied, “Since 1896 we have always had a big bonfire on the night before the Chickadees play the team from Port St. Debbie. What are we supposed to do now, chant stupid slogans, make Indian noises, and strip off our shirts in the dark?”

“You shouldn’t be making Indian noises,” he said.

“I’m aware of that,” I said, “We were going to bark like dogs this year, but who wants to bark like a dog if there isn’t enough light to see who is barking?”

By now all the other smoke eaters that had been on the truck were surrounding me. They looked incredibly fit and kind of menacing. Some of them were women.

“Holy shit,” I said, “Is this the Fire Department or did Chief Kelly just dress up a pilates class and send you down here to harass me? I thought you guys were supposed to waste my tax dollars by sitting around the station house drinking beer, eating lasagna, and playing cribbage. You look like an ad for Planet Fitness.”

“Things change,” a woman who had “Lacy” written above her pocket said, “we don’t get to sit around the station house much anymore. We’re out responding to medical emergencies, doing inspections, and training. You know how toxic a car fire is? You don’t just pull up and squirt water on that shit.”

“Is ‘Lacy’ your last name?” I asked, “Isn’t your last name supposed to be on your shirt?”

“That’s ‘Lieutenant Lacy’”, the first guy said.

“I have an idea, Lieutenant Lacy,” I said, “How about you guys stay here with the truck and watch the bonfire? You can fill up on beer and hot dogs, bark at the moon if you like, and if the fire gets out of control you will be right here to put it out!”

The circle got a little tighter around me.

“We don’t drink on duty,” one guy said.

“You’re not having a fire,” said Lacy.

“The Chief knew it was going to go like this,” she continued, “I’ll tell you what. We can fly the fire drone over your party and have it blink yellow and red spotlights down on the crowd while you do whatever stupid shit you want to do. It might not look like a fire, but it will be weird and disorienting. I think it will provide the kind of psychological cover you and the fans need to unleash your inner moron.”

“That’s very kind of you,” I said, “I accept your offer.”

The circle of firefighters relaxed noticeably.

“I appreciate your support of our football team.”

“Well,” she said, “I used to play football, so I’m sympathetic.”

“You played on a co-ed team?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “I wasn’t always a woman.”

The Pep Rally

The pep rally was plenty of fun despite the lack of fire. The drone, as promised, created a disorienting and alien Fall scene. The scattered leaves on the ground, weird lights, almost full moon, and cirrus clouds combined to render the space around the wicker pile thin to the spirits, so that the ghosts of previous football games could infuse the current team with courage and purpose.

We chanted “pep” cheers like:

Firecracker, Firecracker
Wonder Why
Trainer wants me to get an MRI
Just give me opiates
I can play
Nobody’s scared of Encephalopathy
Good dose of smelling salts
I’m back in
Compound fracture fixed with a pin
Concussion, Concussion
No signs at all
Don’t mind the vomit that’s on the ball
Steroids! Brain Damage!
Fun, Fun, Fun!

We didn’t make indian noises, but we did bark at the moon like dogs. It was so oddly warm that after we got done dancing around the wicker furniture we decided to play some games in the moonlight.

At first we thought we would play “German spotlight”, but because of Charlottesville we decided that was a bad idea. Then we were going to play nude ringolevio, but none of the millennials knew how to play ringoleveo and who wants to play a nude game without millennials? So we settled on playing touch football in the dark with an illuminated football that the Swede got the last time he was in Toronto. It was really fun until a big argument broke out about the proper pronunciation of “Mississippi” in counting the rush. One of the Gretchen sisters said that the defense was only articulating three syllables instead of four, and since she had recorded it on her phone she insisted that we all listen.

It turns out that the best way to ruin a touch football game is by having people stand around and look at their phones. Before you knew it, players were answering texts and uploading pictures of their field rashes to Instagram. Someone started checking rules instead of just arguing about them and as soon as that happened Captain Dank and Radio Free Spruce said, “let’s go do bong hits” and the whole thing broke up.

The Tailgate Picnic

It was 84 degrees Fahrenheit by noon on the day of the football game. The whole idea of drinking whiskey sours and eating Russian meat pies is based on the idea that it looks good while you are wearing tweed, but by noon everyone had stripped down to shorts and tank tops. Some of the people in the parking lot starting making margaritas, drinking Corona beer, and playing Jimmy Buffett. The marching band for the Port St. Debbie Database Administrators struck up “Surfing Safari” by the Beach Boys. Everybody went nuts! It was the most unfootball party I’ve ever seen.

The Game

If you’ve ever seen the Database Administrators play football it’s the most boring thing in the world. They line up in a formation called the “flowchart”, which is really just a wishbone option set, and they run the same three plays over-and-over-and-over again, which they call “the chron job.” All the fans from Port St. Debbie chant “Don’t fuck with the mainframe” after every first down. When they score, the crowd yells, “Put that play on the production server.” It’s super annoying.

By halftime the score was 28–0 in favor of the Port St. Debbie DBAs, but what is worse is that our star quarterback, Jimmy Fitzgillio, had his collarbone broken when sacked by a defensive lineman known as “the Troll.”

When Fitzgillio was brought to the sideline our trainer looked at me and said, “I’m not sure what to do”, which wasn’t surprising since he’s just a retired dentist who we use because it sounds better when someone called “doc” tells you that you are fine and should get back in the game.

“I’ll get help,” I said, “I’m sure there is someone in the crowd that knows what to do.”

“You’re going to see if there is a doctor in the house?” He asked.

“No,” I said, “I’m going to see if there is a quarterback.”

I borrowed a megaphone from the cheer squad and shouted, “Is there anyone here who knows how to take a snap?”

The transgender fireman from the day before raised her hand.

“I mean a snap like in football, not that RuPaul thing.”

“I was the starting quarterback for my high school team in Texas,” Lacy said.

“You played football in Texas, and you’re willing to play here? Won’t this be a bit, you know, beneath you?”

“I could use the workout,” she said.

“In this heat?” I asked.

“What heat?” she said.

She really was from Texas!

“There’s one problem, though,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“Where are you going to shower after the game? We don’t have a transgender bathroom.”

“How about we worry about the game instead of the shower.”

“OK,” I said, “But what do we do about Jimmy’s collar bone? I don’t want to waste time looking for a doctor.”

“Pfffft,” she said, “A broken collar bone heals itself. I’ve broken mine four times.”

The Comeback

While Lacy was suiting up with some borrowed equipment, she told the team that all we had to do to screw up the Database Administrator’s was to punt on second down.

“It will completely fuck up their algorithm,” she said.

Sure enough, she was right. At the start of the second half, we punted on second down and bedlam ensued on their sideline. Our fans started chanting “Drop that packet, Drop that packet” and they fumbled three times!

Each time we got the ball, Lacy was able to pass for a touchdown.

With under two minutes left, she tied the score when she audibilized a play called “Lady Power.” The play looked like this:

The most beautiful play on any field.

Lacy had told the female wide receiver on the right side to “go to the ‘axillary lymph node’ and I’ll hit you there.” The play worked perfectly. TOUCHDOWN!

Then, on the point-after, Lacy drop-kicked the ball through the uprights! The referee signaled a two-point conversion, because that’s the rule in the Quohog league in which we play, but the coach of the Database Administrators went bullshit.

He said he wanted the play reviewed. I asked him how the refs were supposed to review the play when the game wasn’t even televised. He grabbed a megaphone from someone on the cheer squad and asked the crowd if anyone had filmed the PAT on their phone.

So everyone started looking at their phones…

Meanwhile, the Chickadees carried Lacy on their shoulders towards the field house. I was wondering which shower they would take her to, but then I realized that whichever one she used would be our brand new transgender shower. Problem solved!

I would report on the pig roast, acid bocce, and piñata of death, but this has gone on long enough. Maybe someone else will fill us in.