I woke up about 4 AM Monday, August 29th to the sound of people outside setting up tents. I also heard singing. I got up and washed my hair in the dark with canteen water. I needed to be up early for my first Ranger shift. I got dressed and went to the bar. Kathy Kat was still up, working behind the bar and talking with a handful of customers. She sat down with me as I had my breakfast: an orange and a can of V-8. She wondered why I only posted stuff about food on Facebook. “I mean, what the f*ck?” she asked. I explained I use Facebook to stay connected with people but I don't like putting personal stuff on it. Instead, I just post what I eat. The whole social networking thing invites too much oversharing, anyway. For blogging, I use my LiveJournal account. It turned out she used to use LiveJournal, too.
 
There was a very drunk guy named Oscar passed out in one of the chairs. We watched him get up and try to find a place to pee. He settled for the side of the fork lift parked across the street, then had to be helped back to his chair to pass out again.
 
I walked over to Ranger HQ, which was just a couple of camps over from HOTD. On the way, I spoke with Ranger Kiote, who was just coming off shift. Miss Piggy was handling check-in, and I had to go back for my ID. 
Before I was even officially on duty, we got a lost child call over the radio. Whenever there’s a lost child reported, everything stops: nobody gets into the city, nobody gets out. Within minutes, he was reported found… asleep in his own RV. I passed Rangers Foxy Romaine and Katpaw during the shift change. Katpaw loaned me a pencil. I got teamed up with Ranger Monkey Shoes, a very nice lady from Boulder, Colorado. She was fun to partner with.  I saw Tank Girl before we headed out, and she gave me a hug.
 
Monkey Shoes and I checked out some of the artwork out on the playa. There was a huge statue of Godzilla decorated with hundreds of little green army men, toy guns and plastic airplanes. We walked past the Trojan Horse, five stories tall and on huge wooden wheels. It was set to burn later on in the week. 
On patrol, we got flagged down by a couple of girls looking for their RV. It seems they contracted with someone to have an RV brought out for them to use for the week, but couldn’t find it. There were companies that would bring an RV or a trailer out to the playa for you to use for a week, and then they'd pick it up after the event. You had to bring your own supplies. Later in the morning, we spotted a bunch of identical trailers on the outskirts of the city, all parked together in a big circle.
Our big problem that morning was with real estate issues. Camps with large numbers of people register with the Org beforehand, and they get sections of land reserved for them. Down one street, a large camp had been allotted a big plot of land for their campers. A couple of camp members arrived on Sunday to get things started, set up shade structures, whatever. Overnight, not one, not two, but three different groups of people showed up and squatted on their land. One group was sorry and moved right away. The second group grumbled but eventually moved to a different place. The third group told everybody to get bent. It took some diplomacy to get the third group to find some other place to camp down the road, as they were clearly unhappy about pulling up stakes. It was actually the rightful camp members who explained things and worked it out with them, and in the end there were hugs all around. I love it when a plan comes together.
 
We passed a number of art cars, still parked at their various camps. One remarkable art car was someone's version of the Nautilus from "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." The sides were made of real sheet metal. 

I saw that art car later on in the week, crusining around the playa... with a big, rubber squid hanging off its tail. 

We had to make a water run to Tokyo, and took the opportunity to ranger some shade. We went by one camp that had a rack of clothes it was giving away. I found a high school letter jacket, the kind I’d always wanted, and it fit perfectly. It said St. Ignatius Wildcats. I took it. Monkey Shoes used to run Apogaea, the Colorado regional burn. We stopped once at a Colorado camp so she could see if there was anybody she knew there. We also stopped at a camp with a trampoline so that she could try it out.
Towards the end of our shift, we passed Ranger Kimistry, who handed out wedding invitations! She was going to get married at the Temple on Thursday evening. We also stopped at the Black Rock City Post Office and got some postcards. Monkey Shoes was a great person to work with. As we were checking out, I passed Ranger Inkwell—always a pleasure to see her.
 
I got my meal ticket and went to the commissary for lunch. It turned out I was camped between Ranger HQ and the commissary. Sweet! There were lots of pretty girls at HOTD when I returned from my shift, including one brunette girl and her friend in purple who reminded me of Inara from “Firefly.” Their companion, a topless girl named Monica, said that while she was growing up she got very tired of being compared to Monica Lewinski. “I am not the world’s most famous c*cks*ck*r!” she declared. A tanned, muscular guy proceeded to teach Monica how to do a handstand. 
I changed clothes. It was noontime, very bright, and the wind was kicking up the dust, making people stop in the bar for drinks. Everyone was out on bicycles or riding art cars. The camp next door had a yellow theme-- everything in the camp was yellow. We were practically on the Esplanade--we could see the Man from the street in front of camp.
 
A lovely blonde girl from Minnesota called Go-Go showed up and started playing around with D-Mo. She did some tricks with a couple of his collectable HOTD poker chips. After that, she demonstrated some rope techniques, right up on the bar. She was a good sport. At one point, a BLM Ranger drove past on patrol. When people shouted for them to loan their handcuffs, they offered a couple of zip ties. Go-Go gave me her email address so I could send her copies of my pictures. 

At some point, I ended up behind the bar, I guess because that’s where the beer was. It certainly wasn't because of any bartending talents. That was when I met Diana, a lovely brunette girl who had her left arm in a sling. It had broken so badly she needed surgery; she showed me the scars. (She was going by the name Broken Wing.) We talked about writing and vampires and horror stories, and she recommended a book called “Geek Love,” which I’d actually heard of before. Before she left, I heard her tell a friend I was a “kindred spirit.” I never saw her again. 

It was starting to get dark right about then, and I started mixing drinks for customers, which was really a bad idea but I somehow managed. I decided one of my projects for 2012 was to come up with a lazy bartender's guide, something that only listed drinks with two ingredients. One lady customer drew a heart on my wrist.
 
Migh came by from next door, walking slowly, because she was dressed as a mermaid, with a chain mail top and her legs together as a tail. She looked luminous. Migh ordered a bloody Mary, and I worried about mixing it good enough. Payette, in a silly pink wig, helped me out behind the bar, and laughed at how nervous I got. 
By nightfall, I was pretty tired, and when I crashed in my tent I had not trouble at all falling asleep… I woke about 2 AM to the bass thumping of the sound camp next door. Directly outside my tent flap, Billy was busy setting up a shade structure. When he asked if he woke me up, I pointed to the sound camp and said, “No, they did.” At the bar was where I ran into Spoon, who’d let his hair and beard grow out. He said Burning Man wouldn’t be the same without me, but that was how I felt about him. We talked and laughed for a while. His camp was across the street from Silicon Village. It was late, so I headed back to my tent for the night.
 
 
Prologue Aug. 24  Aug. 25 Aug. 26 Aug. 27 Aug. 28 
 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
Sept.6 Sept. 7 Sept. 8  Sept. 9 & Epilogue
Original content (c)opyright 2011 by Tim Frayser
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