Today I met a bunch of noders, but let's back it up some first.

My girlfriend lost her contract yesterday, so she packed up her corporate apartment and drove home from Cincinnati. She told me not to wait up, but of course I did anyway; I was getting sleepy when she finally arrived around 4:15am. We crawled into bed and talked some so I probably didn't get to sleep until 4:45 or so.

It's about 8:30 on a Saturday morning. She's staring at me. Sure, we both always wake up before then for work, but it's Saturday and we were up late so I'm sleeping in...and she's awake. She lets me sleep for another half an hour before staring at me again. She's hungry. Okay, so we'll go get breakfast. I'm sleepy and sluggish, so it takes me a while to get moving, but finally I'm ready. Having decided the night before to go to the Renaissance Festival to meet some noders, I'm wearing a cheap Frederick's of Hollywood corset, jeans, and velvet shoes with pointy toes and big heels. I'm sure all the people at IHOP loved it, especially when I had to sit funny and kept checking to see if anything was slipping into view.

We went home and I did a couple of quick chores before leaving. MapQuest said it was 66 minutes from my door to 1861 Crownsville Road; we were supposed to be there at noon and I left at 11:00 on the dot. It must have been a perfect day for kayaking: I followed someone with a Wave Sport on top of his car and was utterly unsurprised when he got off the Beltway at Great Falls, later I saw a car with what looked like two flatwater kayaks strapped to the roof upside-down. If I hadn't been going to the Renaissance Festival, I'd have gone kayaking too. But I had to stop thinking about that quickly, because just after 270 merged with the Beltway there was a sudden slowdown. Perhaps that's understating it: we were stopped. I had known about the construction but had never seen traffic so heavy, I suppose everybody wanted to enjoy the good weather. I had picked a good lane that was moving along at an average of about seven miles per hour, though of course everyone was cutting in and out of various lanes. (Why do they do that? That makes traffic move even more slowly. Everyone would go faster if they stayed in their own lane.) After about three agonizing miles of this, I broke free and brought my girlfriend's little Saturn up to about 80mph. We stayed there for a while, and finally I made it onto Route 50 where we kept to the speed limit, going about 65mph. I took the exit for Route 3, got briefly confused, and finally made it onto Route 450 around 11:45am. I obediently waited at a traffic light and figured that with under seven miles to go, I'd be just a few minutes late. Wrong! I had forgotten that the main road used to access the festival is one very curvy lane in each direction. We crept along for those six-point-five miles at - once again - an average of seven miles per hour.

Finally, at almost 1:00pm, I found a parking space - ignored where it was - and went racing for the ticket booths. Perhaps "racing" is a bad word for it; the grass and dirt were slippery and so I had to control my pace. I saw a line and got into it, but quickly realized that was the queue for the bathrooms and moved on. A "Cash Only" booth opened up right away, so I gave the girl my $15 and took my ticket to the entrance. I collect ticket stubs, so I was dismayed when she dropped the whole ticket into the bin, but I had more pressing matters to attend to. Occasionally consulting the skimpy hand-drawn map, I stumbled through the mulch and gravel until I finally came upon the White Head Tavern - or was it the White Hart? I'm still not sure which - around 1:15pm. I stared blankly at the crowd before finally spotting a pretty girl holding drumsticks - aha! No, she said, she wasn't drummergrrl, but she was standing in for her. The boy with her - whose hair was blue-green - introduced both of them, but I completely missed their names (they turned out to be dihydrogen monoxide and Thuper Ranger). In fact I missed a bunch of names, only hearing part of each...I figured I'd just check the list of attendees later and match up what I could. Brian Feldman appeared quickly, and then everyone else showed up: drummergrrl in garb with spiky things, Toxick in his Curious George t-shirt, Deadbolt and Golem. MizerieRose (with Manic Panic hot pink hair) came up from another direction, and sleeping wolf and his wife were on her heels.

To be honest, I don't remember much of the conversation that followed. It was geeky, and of course we discussed Everything2, noders not present, and at one point Brian Feldman took out his Palm VIIx and tried connecting to E2 - we teased him about it, but I would have been suitably impressed if it had worked. Finally, thirsty and tired of standing still, I stumbled over to a drink stand. I got a Diet Pepsi and gave my dollar to the girl (who had said "can I help thee?" when I walked up - I felt odd asking for soda), then began stumbling back to the group. I spotted bright pink hair next to me, and then embarrassed myself by having to ask the girl if she was, in fact, MizerieRose. Of course she was, and we started talking about how to make breasts give milk, a node we'd both contributed to. Her reaction was "oh that was you!" and from there we began talking. She invited me to walk around the festival with her, so we began checking out the clothing and trinkets for sale. I got chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, and we talked a lot. At one point she commented that she liked the naked chick on the back of a dyke's shirt. For some reason the woman - who was followed by a couple of others - led us to stand in line behind her for beer. Okay, we were now part of a large group of lesbians in a line for beer. After whispering to each other about this for a few minutes, we decided the leading lady had already had some beer of her own, and as we were both under 21 we slipped away. After MizerieRose purchased a little brass rose we headed back to the group, where sphere777 had turned up along with a few other people who apparently weren't noders.

I didn't walk around much after that, just stayed at the Tavern, looked at the pretty ladies walking by, inhaled too much cigarette smoke, and shouted over the live music. About three and a half hours after I arrived, a table finally opened up and we were able to sit together for the first time - a great relief to me in my terrible shoes. Not long after that three of us whipped 'em out and beamed a few programs back and forth, much to the amusement and horror of dihydrogen monoxide. I finally decided that I had to leave, so I could go home and get dinner with my girlfriend.

I crept painfully toward the massive parking lot, only to realize that I had no idea where the car was. I called my girlfriend on her cell phone and told her I'd be on my way home as soon as I found the car; she suggested pressing the panic button on the keychain. I finally decided to try tapping the unlock button once and then the lock button twice to make the horn beep briefly - and then I jumped back, startled, because the car was a couple of feet away, right in front of me and I hadn't even seen it! I pulled off my shoes (why on earth did I leave them on for the drive there?) and finally got the car moving, only to hit some mild traffic on the way back out. Once I reached Route 3, though, everything was smooth sailing, even on most of the Beltway. My girlfriend hadn't been spending the day asleep, as she'd claimed she would, so after she finished tidying and after I looked up the names I hadn't heard we crawled into bed.

Sorry, that was longer than I expected! It was just that much fun. Please forgive my shifting tenses.