Road trip . . . to the Fringe Festival

It’s the last Friday night of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and it begins with I decide that because today is the first day I received any pay in 6 weeks, I would go fringing and was excited to go by my lonesome.

I was on Facebook, as I usually had been these days, and an old friend, Shanainai, posted a question on her status asking who was going to the Fringe tonight. I responded at 4:30 p.m. stating that I was planning on going alone and would go with her if she was still interested. I text her and she replies stating that she is busy until 5:30 p.m. and that she wanted me to look up some shows to go to and that we’d go for about 6 or 7 p.m.

So I go on the Fringe website. If anyone has attempted to access this, you understand that it isn’t the best for figuring out which plays you want to see at specific times and on specific dates. So I manoeuvre through the website’s ‘genre’ option as this seems to be the easiest way. I also put a plea out on my Facebook status asking people what comedic plays they recommend. I get some replies, but none for the date and time we’re looking at. I search the website reading through all the synopses of the plays that intrigue me, trying to save time by not reading all of them. I find the ones that are playing on this night and copy and paste all the info for her to read when she is available at 5:30 p.m.

5:25 p.m. – I send her the email with an hour worth of research. I don’t hear back. Thinking that she is reading it or rushing to get ready, I find one more and send it to her. I quickly have a shower and call her at 6:07 p.m. at home. She is not there. I call her cell five minutes later and she is at the liquor store and is in line getting ready to pay. She tells me she has to let me go and to come to her place — up to her apartment. I tell her that early plays are starting soon and that I’d rather not come up. She said to come up and that we’d just go with the flow of the evening and she rushes me off the phone.

This is not what I was planning on. I definitely did not want to hang out at her place beforehand and “go with the flow,” as now I had several plays in mind to see. I hadn’t “Fringed” before and originally had planned to go on my own to be able to do what I wanted while there. But I’m flexible, so why not?

I leave for her place and decide to take a quick detour to get tickets for a play called “Psycho Bitch.” I pull up to see that there is no line up. I think this is fabulous! I ask if it’s sold out and the ticket sellers advise me that there are tickets left for the 7:45 p.m. show, which I think is perfect as it’s 6:50 p.m. and this gives Shanainai time to get ready. Plus, it’s so close to her place! I call her confirming that she too is interested in seeing “Psycho Bitch.” She answers the phone, freaking out telling me to get there as fast as I can because she had another ‘friend’ of hers buy tickets for another show that starts at 7:15 p.m. I am confused, as she asked me to research plays and pick some and that she wanted to “go with the flow.” Honestly, her mood swings aren’t foreign to me so I get in my car and drive to her place where she is waiting for me by the door. We drive off and she proceeds to tell me how she brought weed to smoke up her “friends.” She tells me that she is trying to meet new people and that she met them at the Fringe a couple nights ago and they smoked her up. Tonight she wants to repay the favour.

I feel like it’s a good time to reiterate to her that I am sober, that I don’t do any drugs nor do I drink alcohol. I tell her that the only thing that I drink is chocolate milk, pointing to her one litre bottle of Beatrice chocolate milk hoping for a sip. She stops chugging it for a moment to advise me that it’s not just any chocolate milk — that it’s half chocolate milk and half Irish cream. Well this on the other hand was not my chocolately beverage of choice and I am definitely not jonesin’ for a sip anymore. She finishes her whole one litre bottle of booze-filled ruined chocolate milk, and we rush to find the theatre where the play is.

Keep in mind neither of us know exactly where it is. There is no parking on the street because this venue is where there are about six other plays in the same vicinity. I think it’s one way and Shanainai thinks it’s the other way. She advises me to park in a private parking lot and states she brought change for parking and told me to stop at the ticket machine so she could get out and purchase a ticket for the dash. I stop and open up my door — she gets out. I park and proceed to gather my purse and items. She comes back to the car, reaches in and places the ticket on the dash.

Continued from paper here

We walk up and down streets where there are people gathered, hoping to find our venue. We ask others and finally find it around some building, down a sketchy back lane. With only a few minutes before the play begins, we find Shanainai’s “friend” Amber and head in with our tickets to our seats that are being held by Amber’s partner, Keith. We sit down and Shanainai pulls out a “water” bottle from her bag that is clearly not water. She proceeds to laugh and advise us all that it is vodka and begins inhaling this drink as well, like it’s the last bit of liquid on earth.

This sure was not the night that I had in mind when Shanainai and I decided that we would go Fringing together.

About halfway through the play, Shanainai tells me that she has to go to the bathroom. Well, of course you do! You just guzzled a litre of your chocolately-booze and now you’ve been inhaling your not-water-but-vodka! Let me tell you that there are strict rules with these plays; in respect to the actors/actresses and everyone else watching the play, if you get up and leave — for any reason —you cannot come back in. So Shanainai decides to put her bladder on hold and continue watching the play. Now she cannot stop telling me for the last half of the play how badly she has to go to the bathroom, asking me “What time is it now?” Please stop talking to me during this performance.

The second it ends, she takes off out the door to find a washroom in another building, as there wasn’t one in the venue we were at. I advise Keith and Amber that she planned to meet us outside. The three of us walk to the washroom and they decide to go in as well. Shanainai and her friends come out and a few minutes later.

Shanainai then tells Keith and Amber that she brought pot to smoke but that she didn’t have any papers. She decided that we would all go back to her place so they could roll a joint and smoke it, assuming that I would be thrilled to drive everyone back to her place. I pipe in and say that I’m not interested in going to her place and that I am going to the festival. It was now clear to me that she only wanted to party with these two and was not interested in taking in some more venues and enjoying the festival. I agree to drive them to Amber and Keith’s car as they had papers there and proceed to find a different parking space.

After I drop all three of them off at their car, I pull into a space a couple of blocks away. I then proceed to pull what I think is an ad for a play off my windshield, only to find that it’s a parking ticket. Turns out that Shanainai bought a lousy, cheap, one-hour ticket. A ticket that was supposed to be long enough for us to park with, when each play is one hour at minimum. I was annoyed and I had to laugh. Again, this was the first day that I had been paid in weeks and my first real night out in a while. With the amount of this parking ticket, I had now exceeded my budget after one little play.

Deciding that I wasn’t going to let this little adventure defeat me, I began walking towards their car to meet up with them. I’m looking around trying to figure out where they were, as I didn’t know which car was theirs. I can smell weed, so I know they are close. I turn and see the three of them walking down the block heading south; they don’t see me. I decide to continue on to the festival and head east. I’m not interested in their night of mood swings, full bladders in mid-play, getting high, getting drunk and their indifference to my time spent researching plays.

I’m a fun time. And I’m a fun time even when I’m by my lonesome. So I decided to further exceed my budget to get cupcakes, check out the rest of the festival and later on hooked up with my brother and his wife for the next play. I had a blast, saw plays I was interested in and haven’t hooked up with Shanainai since. Nor have I paid the parking ticket.

That is one road trip I would like to forget.