Sunday, November 18, 2012

A plentiful lack of elbow room

Golly, that Unitarian Harvest Moon Fair! It's a bigger mob scene than Town Day, forsooth! And all manner of awesome things are to be found at the Fair.

I gravitated toward the books and CDs, where I didn't succeed in finding any orthodox Dolanesque Catholics, but I did find a pair of social-justice Orbicular Catholics, and, as one book's title was stolen from Gerard Manley Hopkins (Send My Roots Rain by Megan McKenna), I bought it. Other books included Alan Watts's autobiography, Elizabeth Bishop's last book of poems, and an anthology edited by the light-verse-master X. J. Kennedy. Oh, and I bought Scott Brown's book for Maugham!

I went to the mammoth Blue Table, where everything is blue. I got for Maugham a pair of conical blue-tinted drinking glasses. The lady who sold them to me (Patience was her marvellous name!) suggested they'd be good for sherry. Maugham and I may put them to other uses!

Elbow room is not in ample supply at the Harvest Moon Fair. Humanity doth swarm around the tables. Some vending quilts, Christmas decorations, toasters, blenders, needlepoint hangings with Bible verses, scarves, gloves, mittens, coffee mugs, '70s board games (do any of you remember Probe? Sort of like Hangman without the gallows!), baked goods, et cetera, et cetera, ad bloody infinitum. There was even a table of computers with the punning sign CHIPS 'N' SALSA.

I met the genteel and charming lady minister! I started the conversation. She was wearing a name tag with her full name which I recognized from the church's billboard or signpost or whatchamacallit. So I said "You're the minister!" And she said yes indeedy she was. Nice lady, fiftyish. Short gray hair, and maybe glasses but I don't recollect. Slender and smiling.

As I revise the last paragraph but one, I think of what a marvellous radio broadcast Dylan Thomas would have made of the Harvest Moon Fair. He'd probably take ten paragraphs to catalogue all the cool stuff that was being sold, from plants to computers, from board-games to coffee-mugs, from scarves to framed Bible verses in needlepoint, from books to jewelry, from CDs to cupcakes. And then he'd describe the weather in terms that would make the angels sob "Selah!" And he'd describe the people, quirky, progressive, and unfailingly kind, with name-tags reading Patience and Holly and other lyrical names. And he'd probably describe the bawdy bongs of the post-modern bell-tower, chiming the hours with gusto. And he'd describe the three folksy guitarists in the cafeteria, crooning away in the bustle. He'd make a masterpiece that would rival A Child's Christmas in Wales!

Oh, and there was indeed a trio of women in casual autumn attire playing guitars and crooning folk songs in the cafeteria. (They called their little group Somebody's Mother.) The cafeteria (which opened for meals at 11.15, that is to say, after Maugham and I left) had a menu featuring all things Mexican -- and for kiddies, or for unadventurous bland American palates such as mine, hot dogs, or peanut butter sandwiches.

And did I convey what a sublime day Saturday was, weather-wise? Perfect November day, almost a mite too warm for me. Upper 40s, delicately brushing 50, and surpassing it as the day progressed, with brilliant sun that somehow seemed gentle for all its brilliance.

Oh, and the flyers and notices on the UU bulletin board! One notice advertised a lecture on the difference between Islam and Islamism. Another spoke of the rights of women in our hyper-sexualized culture. Some flyers advertised music lessons. And others, I think, English lessons.

There was a room at the UU fair called The Jewelry Box, which Maugham waited in line (perhaps sitting on her walker-seat) to get into. I didn't see this room, but Maugham was not all that favorably impressed. Which is surprising, because every other aspect of this bazaar or fair or flea market was overwhelmingly fun and good. And all those UUs, they're so friendly. Of course, I didn't (apart from buying the Scott Brown autobiography) advertise my Republicanism, which probably contributed immeasurably to the friendliness.

I almost went and talked to the ladies staffing the "Who We Are" table, providing info about Unitarianism. I would have said, "I went to a Unitarian church for three months in 1991! I've read Jack Mendelsohn's Being Liberal in an Illiberal Age!"

(I didn't just go to "a" Unitarian church. I went to the Arlington Street Church, adjacent to Boston's Public Gardens. A slight acquaintance of bygone days, the poet W--- L-------, was a member of the church. I thought, this seems to work for him, it just might work for me! It didn't. I soon discovered Thomas Merton, and the rest is history.)

But those UUs really are awesome. Kind. And that matters. Maybe I'll write a book about them called Being Kind in an Unkind Age.