An unusual character I met at Burning Man
in 2001. A puppet
with a head controlled by one hand, a gloved (human) hand on one side,
and a limp puppet hand on the other.
He looked like an old man, and spoke loudly
a fake Scottish
accent. He lived behind a bar,
right on the esplanade
serving drinks to people.
I got to the front of the line after a minute or two,
and he asked "Kin I git ye a drrink, laddy?"
I had seen him giving drinks to people in front of me, and wondered
what the price was. (Not money - there's no money in Black Rock City)
Maybe they're free, I thought.
So when he asked if I wanted something with alcohol or without, I said
"Non-alcoholic. Maybe something fruity, if you have
anything like that."
"Ah, rright laddy, we got fruit drink for ye."
(awkward silence between me and a puppet, staring at each other. try to imagine this.)
"Can ye beg for it?"
Now I figured out what the price was. 1 Drink, price: 1 grovel.
The people before me had given melodramatic performances, but I had
figured they knew the guy behind the curtain, and
were having fun with him. Nope, they were
paying for their beverages.
I had heard about this puppet bartender elsewhere, but it hadn't
really registered consciously.
I didn't have any performance ready, so
I just got on my knees and did my best impromptu supplicant.
"Oh please please can I have a drink! I really really want one. I
need a drink, I don't know what will happen if I don't get one!
Please please please..." (and so on)
"All right." At this he quickly disappeared behind the curtain, rummaging
through some things. He'd occasionally poke his puppet head out to
say "Just ee moment, be right with ye" and the like. Finally he
popped out with a nice apple juice beverage, which I thanked him for.
One apple drink for merely one grovel; now that's a good price! In all seriousness, it's quite a generous service
for those people to provide.
Next year, I suppose I'll bring him some beer to apologize for my
inadequate grovel, and to help them out.
And I'll also bring a better grovel.