I have a really funny story about a hand job.
Liquid Nitrogen at Freezerburn 2018 was the place to be. Inside a large, non-descript, white tent, the dance floor surged with sequins and sweat as worshippers offered their sacrifices to the twin gods of bass and beat. The periphery swirled with orbs of light as beaming poi spinners slung them in circles around their glistening bodies, over their heads and under their legs in a constant flow of motion. It was a cacophony of chaos, the place to see and be seen in your finest costumery before melting into the music of the night.
After nearly an hour of raging hard, I needed a break and headed to the sidelines for water. That’s when a sketch-ass deejay sidled up to me.
Ha, look at me calling him a “sketch-ass deejay” as if there’s any other kind.
“Hey!” he said, skipping the requisite pleasantries, considering we’d been flirting back and forth for weeks prior to this burn. “Wanna see my van?”
Hurricane Harvey had brought him to Austin the previous summer. That year, Create Culture at Empire Control Room every Wednesday night was the best burner event in town. I noticed him at the edge of the crowd, hands casually in his pockets, his blue eyes glinting and long, black hair catching the light. Emboldened by being both drunk and high, I walked over to say hello, which is a polite way of saying I planned to hit on him hard. Five minutes later, we were making out against a wall in the back alley. The man is very good at getting straight to the point.
At closing time, we came up for air, and he asked if I wanted to see his van. He was clearly very proud of his van. I reluctantly declined, having to work the next day.
Fast forward six months and that night, under the white tent at Liquid Nitrogen, I had burned long enough to know that if another burner invites you back to their private camping spot, that is polite burnerspeak for “Wanna fuck?” I knew, and I didn’t care. I was genuinely curious about this van.
It was, dear friends and frenemies, a very nice van. He gave me a leisurely tour. I did not leave that van cleaner than I found it.
Afterwards, the long journey back to my camp at the edge of the Playa was a dark, cold one. We were, after all, camping in the middle of January. When I arrived, however, I was warmed to the core. My camp, The Sparkeasy, was an oasis of light and laughter on the edge of the forest, just before the Playa faded into The Badlands.
My ingenious campmates had crafted a large, white dome out of nothing but PVC pipes and a large, white tarp. Tall pillars of dancing LED lights formed an outdoor hallway beckoning visitors inside.
Inside, the place was popping. At a well-stocked bar at the center, one of my besties poured strong drinks for eager guests. Around the bar, wooden couches were piled high with swarms of friends, old and new, chatting and catching up. Everyone looked up when I arrived and greeted my entrance with enthusiasm. I was happy, I was loved. I was home.
My friend, Pooh-Bear, clad in a furry onesie, bounced over. His twinkling blue eyes smiled at me underneath a hoodie with teddy-bear ears. He looked cute AF. “Circus!” he exclaimed, “So good to see you! High five!” On instinct, I reached up to meet his waiting palm.
Now, most people do not think much about the logistics of a high five. It’s a slap and release, much like bouncing a ball. Pooh-Bear and I slapped palms.
Our palms, quite unexpectedly, did not release. His eyes clouding with confusion, his hand still in mid-air, Pooh-Bear tried unsuccessfully to pull away. Our hands were stuck together.
I immediately knew why, and the awful realization must have shown up on my face. I watched as it dawned on Pooh-Bear as well, his expression slowly changing from confusion to outright horror.
I had walked into my camp with the dried jizz of a sketch-ass deejay all over my hands and slapped it straight into Pooh-Bear’s.
I’m not really sure how to properly express my mortification in that moment. I remember laughing hysterically, but there was some true hysteria in that laugh, full of shame and regret. My friendship with Pooh-Bear has never quite been the same since.
I am truly sorry about that, Pooh-Bear, but also, I still laugh about it so hard sometimes. The look in your eyes at that moment will likely stay with me until I die. I hope you will forgive me for that, even though I will probably tell my grandkids about it one day.
There is, however, a precise reason why I chose to tell you this story today, and that reason will be forthcoming. Stay tuned for Part 2.
Note: I sent this post to said sketch-ass deejay prior to publishing, and he LOL’d. With his band and his production company, he’s making waves in Houston, and I’m proud of him. He informed me that he was at Empire that night because his band was playing there. I had no idea I had been hitting on one of the boys in the band. Boy, you really cannot throw a rock in Austin without fucking a musician 😀