left biblioblography: Decompression And The White Knight Syndrome

Monday, October 11, 2010

Decompression And The White Knight Syndrome


So yesterday, my musician friend Poncho and I went to the Burning Man Afterburner Decompression party in San Francisco. I’ve never been to the main event in Black Rock, and yes yes, I know I should, but reports of how bloody hot it is have kept me at bay. We met up with his friend Steve, and the three of us wandered for most of the evening, playing looky-loo.

I went to this party last year, and it was a hoot. This year was a load of fun as well. The picture in this post was of a couple who were fantastic to watch. There were several stages set up, and they were all playing techno-rave music (there was one instance where we wandered by a structure, and I became convinced  that the music is what you’d hear during a heart attack, go figure). But the couple in the picture were far beyond the one-stepping one-to-two-flailing palms one usually encounters. These two had obviously been practicing, and I alternated between gooseflesh and tears just watching them.

Yeah, I was fairly blitzed at the time, but still…they were a work of art to watch.

Of all the mini-adventures we had, the one I am going to extrapolate on is…wild and interesting.

As the three of us were standing in a crowd, Steve decided to get some food, and Poncho and I stood just staring around, drinking in the sights. Standing a few feet away, was a gorgeous, tiny white gal, maybe in her mid-twenties, scantily clad as is the convention there (and hoo boy, how nice is that, for a bunch of dirty old men, to sit and drool and not get slapped for it, eh?). She smiled at Poncho, and he did an odd dance step that I commented on (I’m fairly sure he was unaware that he did so, and besides, there were piles upon piles of dancing bodies around, so who really cares, right?). She came over and started talking in his ear (the music is loud enough sometimes you can feel the bass in your chest cavity). She staggered somewhat, and I asked if she was okay. Seeing as they were having a conversation that really didn’t involve me (and I couldn’t really overhear anyways), I moved to a wooden patio nearby in the light, where Steve was wolfing his curried rice down, and stood, observing, occasionally glancing over at Poncho.

After several minutes, he cut through the crowd, bringing the gorgeous little spinner over to us, and introduced her as ‘Collette’. She immediately detached herself from my friend, and glommed onto me.

This is of course the sort of fantasy middle-aged men dream about – some beautiful young woman throws herself into your arms, and it should write itself. It was, after all, one of the reasons I went (and I brought some rubbers in the odd event  I should get lucky). Of course, experience dictates that anything too easy is a red flag. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Sadly, I was right.

It became readily apparent, that she was in no shape to look after herself. I couldn’t get her name out of her, she couldn’t tell us who she had come with, and she was literally all over the place – she was barely holding herself upright, alternating between arching her back and lilting left and right in my arms. She was laughing crazily at almost everything I said (and I’m a laugh riot as a rule, but she was in that sort of shape where EVERYTHING is funny). I kept hearing about how I was awesome.

I told my friend Poncho (who was watching this with a mixture of disappointment and bewilderment in his face), that I couldn’t leave this poor woman in this state. And yes, that was my first response. Not an erection, not a thought bubble that said “Bingo!”, but how to help this poor messed up stranger. I tried to lecture her on trusting strangers, but she became upset, and I had to hug her and tell her it was all right. I had the bright idea of asking her for her cell phone (logic dictated that the last person on her call queue was likely an accompanying friend). She brought out this tiny, tiny purse that was barely large enough to hold her cigarettes, and yes, no cell. I wasn’t about to pat her down or look through her purse. She then was able to tell me that she need to use a restroom. So I held onto her (more like she held onto me), and I escorted her to the bathroom in the bar (I actually had to warn her about the stairs, which she laughingly claimed she could scale, but obviously could not. I was announcing each stair.).

She got in the line, and I stood by, wrestling with my moral imperative: do I just leave? Do I wait for her? How far does my responsibility extend? Likelihood was she’d be fine, but my worry was that some drunken schmoe would take advantage of her incoherency and mental state – on the other hand, it was the Burning Man crowd, and from what little I’ve seen and gleaned, they take care of their own.

No worries. She came out, and immediately began talking to the women waiting in line, most of whom stated they couldn’t understand her. She ended up in the arms of a woman (I noted it wasn’t the gal in line dressed as a nurse – guess it really WAS a costume), and as she glommed onto her, I came over, touched the woman holding her, and asked her to make sure ‘Collette’ was in good hands. She gave me that look of “huh?” and told me, “I don’t know who she is.” “Neither do I,” I responded. “She glommed onto me earlier.” It was at this juncture that a huge round black fellow came up (obviously security – it was in the manner in which he held himself), and I took my leave from there. I saw the other ‘huggee’ some time later, and asked her if ‘Collette’ was all right. I was told that she was with the rangers, and all was well.

Regrets? No, only that I didn’t leave my business card with her. Wait – also that she had to be a state of incoherence to approach me in that manner (I prefer my women to be at least semi-coherent, but able to make something resembling a judgment call). It is somewhat sad that we have so many innate filters that we as humans have to get completely blitzed to express ourselves. Masks are not always a plus.

And no, I didn’t get lucky last night. Which is okay, I’m at a stage in life where it’d be nice but not necessary. I do however feel pretty good about selflessly helping a stranger in obvious need (yeah, so my altruism isn’t 100%, so sue me). Do I need a medal? Hell no. I recall a time many decades ago, when I worked graveyard in a convenience store, and found a wallet. There was money in it. I didn’t take the money, and turned it over to the Dublin police. When I told the store manager (a pretty little born-again Christian named Sue) about it, she assured me that God would reward me. My response then is the same response now:

“You don’t do the right thing for a reward. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

When I told my ma that story, she laughed uproariously, and said “You sound just like your father when you say that.”

I guess it’s all in how you’re raised.

Thanks for the listen.

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