Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Hippies on Parade

Yesterday I went and volunteered at the Willy Street Fair, a Madison institution that's 32 years old.

Since I'm on the Board, I was selling food at the Willy Street Co-op booth. We had samosas, Indian pastries filled with potatoes, vegetables, and curry spices; and black bean empanadas, that were really more like burritos, a giant flour tortilla filled with black beans and plantains, with a tomato salsa on top. Everything came with plums and a can of fizzy water - a deal for $5.

But everything we were serving was edible at room temp, not cooked, and there were lots of other booths frying and searing and grilling with much more dramatic effects. In fact, our booth was strategically located between Lombardino's, a high(ish) end Italian place that was selling fried calamari and egg plant strips, and roasted corn slathered with pesto mayonaise and Parmesan cheese, and the booth that was selling pop guns for kids - so we got both the frying fumes and the popping noises. I envied the t-shirts the Lombardino's staff had - black, with an outline drawing of a pig on the front, and "yeah, there's pork in it" on the back. One of my fellow Co-op food hander-outers said they wear those shirts at the restaurant, too, and they fit in much better at the Fair - a little too in your face for fine dining.

It's funny to see the changes over the years at the Fair. They started having the Packer game on, on a big flat screen, under a tent, a few years back. This year the tatooed, mini-skirted, kinda biker chick girl ahead me said "pathetic" as she went by; I was thinking "I love Wisconsin". There are also a lot more booths for massage and chiropractic and align your spine and cure your aches & pains by holistic means as we age.

You get to see people you haven't seen in years. This year, that meant Tommy & Todd, a gay couple we knew in Chicago - they're living in Madison again. Tommy worked with my ex-husband. Jeff moved to Chicago 5 months before the kids & I did, because I was finishing library school. Jeff slept on Tommy & Todd's couch while he house hunted. They were so kind to us when we first moved down - they bought us a Weber grill for our suburban backyard, and took us to the Brookfield Zoo - which became on of our most favorite places - I still have a picture of the kids there on my dresser. And, here's the irony - 18 years later, me and Jeff, the heterosexual couple, are divorced, but Tommy & Todd, the gay couple, are still together.

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