We went back to Folklife today. I can’t believe we did, given the discomfort of the jam-packed bus rides to and from Seattle Center yesterday. But Mara had such fun there that she wanted to take her little friend Lily from nextdoor and do it all again.
It was a much shorter venture today, but we still managed to pack a lot in. Mara and Lily spent the better part of an hour splashing around in the wading fountain. After that we went in search of the painted stilt man from yesterday, stopping periodically to watch some musicians. We never saw Mr. Stilty, but instead encountered the White Fairy Lady from two years ago (both of these I mentioned in yesterday’s post). We shoved Mara and Lily forward with a dollar in Lily’s hand to put in the lady’s basket, so she would dance, but Mara chickened out and pushed Lily forward alone. Lily balked then, so I went forward with them, Lily deposited the note, and then we beat it to get away.
We watched some aboriginal Mexican dancers in colorful costumes with beautiful feather headdresses. After doing several dances, they asked if any children wanted to learn a dance. A hundred people around, dozens of kids, but no takers. Mara and Lily declined my enthusiastic prodding. The dancers asked if ANYone would like to learn a dance. No one budged. I saw the woman roll her eyes.
Then I jumped up and said I would learn. I’m sure they were hoping that one of the many attractive and lithesome people in the audience would have volunteered, but they got me. I look like John Barth’s description of Ebenezer Cooke. “Heron of a man, his every gesture was half flail,” or something like that. Nevertheless, the drummer man smiled and told me to “do what they do.” I followed the dancers as well as I could, about a half-second behind and with the wrong foot each time. When they stopped after only a minute, I asked if that was it, and the man dancer said “now we do it faster.”
I realized that what had just happened was to be considered my instruction, and now we would perform it at regular speed. I briefly considered that if I could not possibly better my first attempt, it was also not likely that I could do worse. The woman dancer told me to watch her and go when she went. So I watched her, relaxed, listened to the drummer count off the potatoes (or whatever Aztecs call the introductory notes before a piece of music actually starts), and did the dance. It felt better this second time through, and in fact all the photos that Angela took of this venture show me in perfect step with the dancers.
We put the girls in a kiddie ride at what used to be called the Fun Forest, which is the amusement park part of the Seattle Center — ferris wheel, go carts, spinny throw-up rides, shooting booths, etc. Not sure what it’s called now. Mara and Lily did the car ride. Funny, they spend their young suburban lives being stuffed into Subarus and Odysseys, but they want to go on the car ride at the Fun Forest. Maybe it’s because every seat had a steering wheel.