Saturday Report: Dashed Hopes and Belly Dancers

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After our restless night, the sound of the alarm going off at 6:00 a.m. was not very welcome. However, this was not a case where we could just decide to sleep in! We got up and got ready and it wasn’t until we were getting into garb that it became clear that Jasper had failed to pack his tunic, even after being reminded several times. He really thought he had packed it, but he didn’t have it–and garb was required! I already felt bad that I hadn’t been able to make him suitable pants, so he was going to have to wear sweat pants. Grrr! I resigned myself to having to buy him a tunic at the faire, and told him he would have to leave his cloak on all the time until I could find something suitable.Meanwhile, he turned his 4-H t-shirt inside out so it would just look like a plain gray shirt. We never did get him a new tunic because there weren’t any for sale.

Meanwhile, I realized that I had failed to pack my cloak, and it was a cold morning when a cloak would have been welcome! At least I had a hand-knitted shawl.

After breakfast at the hotel we headed out to a drugstore to buy some bug spray. The car started right up! When we had set up the booth the night before, we noticed that our spot was just crawling with flies. It was so bad that it looked like the asphalt was moving! So I thought I’d grab a big old can of bug spray and coat our space thoroughly before setting up all our stuff.

I found an oversized bottle of bug spray and got some melatonin just to ensure a better night’s sleep, then went out to the car where the kids were waiting. Because I am an idiot, and because the car had started up so nicely at the hotel, I hadn’t left it running. Now it wouldn’t start. It made a kind of sick whiny noise, but that’s it.

It was 7:30 on a Sunday morning and I had to call poor Steve and beg for help. I have to admit I was pretty nervous as we waited for him. What if he couldn’t get the car to start? Our booth would be sitting there with nothing in it when the faire started.

Steve arrived and went to work, which included lying under the car in the parking lot and checking out the starter. Eventually, we had success and the car started!

Steve came with us to the faire grounds and helped us set everything up while we kept the engine running. It was the first time we’d actually set up the booth with the tables and everything. I thought it looked pretty good!

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See my fancy bucket skirts? I love them! I looked at all the other booths and saw everyone else’s anchor systems, but I still like my idea best. The buckets doubled as display space and extra seating.

We thanked Steve and he left and I parked the car and we got ready for our first day ever as vendors. Our booth neighbors arrived to my delight, because they are some of my long-time faire friends. It was good to see them again.

Early in the day a man walked by in full uniform as an officer of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era.

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I called him over to compliment him, and he explained that he was in character as Captain Jack Aubrey, one of my husband’s favorite literary characters. When I chased him down later in the day to take the above photo, he told me that I was the only one he had met who had even heard of Aubrey or the series of books about him.

We started the day in high spirits and full of hope. We never expected to get rich, but I suppose we did expect to sell enough to recoup some of our expenses. That, apparently, was an unrealistic expectation. We had a fairly steady stream of visitors, but although they raved about our merchandise, they did not buy anything. We told ourselves that maybe, like us, they were checking everything out first and would be back to buy later in the day. Nope.

I had made an assumption that people with kids would be charmed by my fairy shillings and the little fairy wallets and would buy them as souvenirs because they were so inexpensive. I thought maybe I could make money by selling a high volume of items that were low cost. Nope. Everyone loved the little wallets but I only sold three. Three out of three hundred.

Everyone loved Lucy’s paintings, but not enough to buy them. And the earrings. And the flower crowns. As the day wore on, our spirits sank. Lots of people were interested in my knitted muffs. They stroked and fondled them. They tried them out. They did everything but buy one.

Jasper, meanwhile, was free to wander and make friends. He had a great time! Among the people whom he befriended were a trio of very friendly belly dancers who had been by the booth several times to pet the muffs. They sent him back to tell me that they would buy a muff if they could take a photo of Jasper pretending to knit one.

Fortunately, I was actually working on a muff as I sat in the booth, so when the ladies arrived I handed my knitting over to Jasper and they took several pictures of him pretending to knit. Then they bought two muffs and gave Jasper a $10 tip! That was the big bright spot of the day. When you’re a vendor, you don’t really get to go watch the shows or do much of anything except sit and hope that someone will buy something.

As the day ended, we had sold enough to cover our booth rental, but that was about it. Feeling very dejected, I trudged down to the parking lot to get the car, and when I turned the key nothing happened.

That’s when I lost it. Sure, there had been tears when my serger broke down. And then when my sewing machine broke down. And when I couldn’t get the card reader app installed. But this just seemed like the last straw. I sat in the dark car sobbing like I have rarely done in my adult life. I wondered if we would have to spend the night in the car. I wondered if God was trying to tell me NO about having a booth. Then I wondered if Satan was trying to stop me from having a booth. The sheer weight of everything that had gone wrong left me feeling utterly defeated.

Once I was able to talk coherently, I called Steve and he kindly offered to come help again. I climbed out of the car and walked slowly back toward the booth to tell the kids the bad news. The faire had closed for the night and most of the other vendors and performers were enjoying a sing-along. I sure didn’t feel like singing. Lucy met me when I was almost back to the booth and said, “I thought you went to get the car.”

When I told her that the car wouldn’t start, she also kind of snapped. She was so ready to get out of there. She insisted that she would and could single-handedly push the Suburban from the parking lot to the booth, a distance that I would estimate at close to a quarter of a mile.

I assured her that Steve was on the way, but she didn’t want to wait. So we went back to the car and I put it in neutral and she started pushing. It was slightly uphill much of the way. I heard her straining and groaning and I begged her to stop. She kept pushing. It was her way of dealing with her frustration and disappointment.

When we were more than halfway to the booth, a guy came up and offered to help. By then the road had leveled out so between him and Lucy and another guy who came, the car was pushed very quickly to the booth. I’m still kind of in awe of Lucy’s achievement!

Steve and his son Spencer arrived shortly after and helped us pack up our stuff and stow it in the car. He also jump started it for us and then said he wanted to work on it some more once we got back to our hotel. So we stopped at a drive-through, got food, and went to our hotel room, expecting Steve to be there, but there was no sign of him.

I called his wife who told me that he was waiting for us at the hotel. Since we were at the hotel, and hadn’t seen him, I was quite puzzled. It turns out that there are two LaQuinta Inns in Texarkana, one in Texas and one in Arkansas, and they are right across the highway from each other. We were in Texas and Steve and Spencer were in Arkansas!

Once we got that figured out, Steve and Spencer came over to have supper with us and then Steve worked on the car some more. He believes that some sort of intermittent short is draining the battery. So he showed Lucy how to disconnect the battery, gave her a voltmeter, and taught her how to jumpstart the engine if all else failed. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have a mechanic friend who was there for us when we really needed him!

By the time he and Spencer left, it was time for us to head to bed again.

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One thought on “Saturday Report: Dashed Hopes and Belly Dancers

  1. Oh my, what a hard day! I’m so sorry things didn’t work out as you’d hoped. (Aubrey is one of Paul’s favourite literary characters too!)

    Like

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