Foxtrotting with a Dead President

I had a most interesting weekend that involved some very unusual events including (but not limited to): Dancing a foxtrot with George Washington to “Fly Me to the Moon” (while I was in a complete 18th-century outfit), making my parade debut, having my picture taken 9,000 times, and meeting a U.S. Senator (once again, in the complete 18th-century outfit).

Yes, yes, I know. My life is incredibly fabulous.

This weekend was the 200th anniversary of a group here in Charleston that used to be a military organization. They sent soldiers to all the 19th century conflicts- War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, etc. Now they are one of the seemingly hundreds of organizations in the city that trace their roots back hundreds of years and are really an excuse for the wealthy, blooded elites to congratulate themselves on their grandfathers being slave-owners. Hmmm…that sounds awfully harsh. I don’t mean it to. The majority of them are lovely people and they really do astounding amounts to help preserve our history and our buildings, so I salute and respect them a great deal for that. At least that money is going to some very worthy causes.

Anyway, because of my connection to one of these groups (who own my historic site), I am automatically loosely connected to all the other ones (really, they are extraordinarily incestuous) and because of this connection, and my fabulous historical bad-assness, they asked me to portray and 18th-century character who played an important part in the founding of their organization. So, essentially, I spent the weekend at various glamorous events filled with glamorous, bejeweled, people and lots of very impressive surnames pretending I was someone who has been dead for 200 years. Good times.

The highlight was, without question, the parade. I’d never been in one before! Since I wasn’t one of those kids who took dance or did girl scouts or was in baton twirling or whatever it is that gets you into parades, I never got to march in one. I was always that lonely little girl on the sidelines, crying a single tear because I didn’t get to dress up in a big, Christmas-wrapped cardboard box and waddle down the street. Except I totally didn’t! Because while y’all were all busy trying to keep warm while you were wearing a leotard and tights I was running behind Santa on the fire truck, pushing all of the smaller kids out of the way and scrambling for crushed, asphalt-laden peppermints. Ahhh, childhood.

While the parade itself was loads of fun, it was also rather nerve-wracking. Myself and the 5 other historical characters got to ride in a carriage (thank god, because my reproduction 18th century shoes are like walking in a hollowed-out bricks. That are too small), and our horse, Dennis, was extremely unhappy about being woken up at 8 AM and being forced to drag around a bunch of lazy asses. He was already really antsy when the carriage got there, then he had to stand around while police cars flashed their lights, the Citadel band warmed up by crashing cymbals and running around like idiots, and lots of guys in uniforms walked by him, the little pom poms on their hats brushing up against him and sneaking into his line of sight. I actually felt really sorry for him until they pointed to us and said “ok, guys, that’s your carriage!” Then I just wanted him to calm the fuck down and try not to kill us all.

He did ok, though we almost lost him the first time they fired the cannon (oh yes, I said first, because it was fired three more times). If there hadn’t been another carriage right in front of us, blocking his path, he may have bolted. The best part had to be when we were stopped at the reviewing stand waving at all the dignitaries, and the parade was buzzed by 4 F16s that were shockingly close. It was cool, yes, but Dennis did not like that one bit. He literally jumped straight up into the air, with all 4 legs leaving the ground, which is quite a feat for an incredibly enormous old horse. He didn’t bolt that time either. He just peed. A lot. For about 20 seconds. It was like someone had upended an 80-gallon drum in the middle of the road. In case you didn’t know: Horses? Giant bladders!

But we made it though alive, at least, and the whole time I was thinking “Oh my god! I’m totally going to blog this!” And I got to look pretty in my gown I made, and I got to wave to a lot of little kids, and I didn’t even have to push any of them down for old, smushed candy.



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