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Midnight. In a Grocery Store. In a Corset.

March 11, 2005

It’s Saturday night, not an hour into the Requiem game.  The wedding is about to start, and Jess and I are decked out in courtesean gowns, corsets and all.  My walkie talkie is hanging from the lacings of my corset, mostly camouflaged by my shawl.  It’s not terribly noticeable, unless it gets very quiet or some starts hacking away at the call button (not an uncommon occurrence this week-end).  The “wedding” is about to begin and the room has grown quiet when I hear someone call over the box for help in hospitality.  I break character, get up, and quickly walk out before the noise disturbs the rest of the players.  “Say that again?”

“The hospitality suite is down to bread.  We need more food.”

We talk for a bit, but I can’t understand what they want.  So I decide to go upstairs.  At first glance, it appears that they only need a ride to a grocery store.  Fine, no problem.  I have A CAR and A CAR is handy for food runs.  But then I discover the real problem.  They have no money.  The donation bowl appears to be just one more Styrofoam bowl among the clutter.  A few forlorn coins glittered in the bottom of the bowl, begging someone to take them and use them to buy a can of coke.  The staff hadn’t been pushing for donations.  We arrange for two of the people hanging out in the suite to go down and discreetly go about to ask for donations.  I return to the first floor, intent on getting in a little more roleplay, after giving the gentleman running the suite instructions to call for me when they’re ready to go.  On the way, I hunt up Ricky and Joanna, both of whom inform me that there is no more money allocated for the hospitality suite.  We’re on our own.  I pass by one of our collections people, and she informs me that someone has very generously donated $40.  My response?  “Great.  Now keep asking.”

Back in character, it is decided to attempt to participate in what can only be described as an impromptu salon.  Several members of the city are going to showcase their talents.  Before they can begin, there is some idle chatter going on among the characters.  My walkie talkie is out in my lap, so I can hear the call when it comes.  Over the radio, I hear “Could the person who has the grocery list please add butter?”

The room quiets momentarily, the comment odd enough to make people break character.  In the space of time it takes the people around me to realize what’s going on, someone else on the radio responds “Parkaaaay!”

The people within hearing distance crack up.  The other half of the room gives us all puzzled looks for roughly the amount of time it takes to repeat the joke.  Everyone goes back into character and just as we’ve decided that this improv salon is dull, I hear the call.  $79 dollars has been collected, and they’re ready to go.  I quietly leave the room, make my way upstairs to my own room first, and take off the padding under the dress which makes me look like I’ve got a three foot clearance of hippage.  On my way back to the elevators, I run into a couple groups of Cammies.  I demand money.  Some are surprisingly generous and I’m almost $100 richer by the time I make it up the the hospitality suite.  As we walk the room trying to come up with some stop-gap solutions for food until we can return with provisions, other Cammies come into the room and also have money demanded of them.  The ice bucket is commandeered for the job of donation can, with a bright shiny (okay, not so shiny) new sign declaring “DONATIONS  Donate Damn You.”  The staff of the suite discovers they have more food than they originally thought, and we put together a more comprehensive list of supplies.  Don is drafted for the job of Food Run Helper.

Before going further, you must understand how Don and I look.  He is wearing a suit that could pass for a tuxedo at casual glance, white out contact lenses, and a three inch Playdough Red mohawk.  He speaks with a faint lisp, and looks fairly intimidating in a pair of sunglasses, so long as he doesn’t open his mouth and reveal that he’s a teddy bear at heart.  When I am in heels, we are roughly the same height, both olive skinned (though he’s slightly darker), and both have dark, full eyebrows.  I am wearing a yellow corset, a blousy black shirt, and a paneled skirt that has to be tucked up under the corset to prevent tripping.  WE DO NOT LOOK NORMAL.  In any other city besides New Orleans, I might be worried.  As it was, I was mostly concerned that the more outlying areas might not take to the weirdness as well as the Quarter.

Don and I headed downstairs, after harassing more people for money.  We made a quick pass of the lobby, hitting up every person we passed and demanded money on the grounds that if we didn’t get any, there was going to rain down a storm of shin kicking.  The whole wad wound up being $233.  Not bad for a single pass through.  I discovered later that there were several areas that hadn’t been hit, which probably would have brought in more money, but oh well.

Once in the car, Don began counting the money.  At first he was doing it by the light of the overhead lamp.  Not wanting to get mugged at a street light (as I rather like the idea of keep all my windows intact), I asked him to please turn the light off and kindly count the money someplace less obvious.    We found the nearest supermarket.  It was closed.  We had no idea where we were going, and somehow my gas light had turned on sometime the night before during our map-cap adventures in the Quarter.  Petrolea, Goddess of Good Gas Mileage, was rejoicing in my supplication.  Don spotted a Winn Dixie after a few minutes, and got to experience the joy and thrill of a sudden stop and U-turn in a car that is aptly nicknamed “The Boat.”  He clung to the wads of money as if they were going to keep him from falling out of the car.  Good thing I require people wear seatbelts.

Once at the Winn Dixie, we grab two shopping carts and head inside.  Don is curious as to why we would need two shopping carts.  Obviously he’s never gone shopping with a Squirrel.  The first item is bread.  I demand only 99 cent bread and will accept nothing above that price.  These are Cammies we’re talking about here.  They can eat 99 cent bread and LIKE IT.  The next item is COKES.  Don is of the opinion that Cammies will only drink name brand.  I am of the opinion that since it’s free, they can suck it up.  We compromise by deciding to leave COKES until last.  We make our way over to the meat section, where we discover the Deal of the Day.  Three packs of chicken breasts for the price of one.  A tempting sale price.  But one only available with the Winn Dixie Card O’Discountedness.  Don is dispatched to retrieve the object while I do the rest of the shopping.  I didn’t bother trying to move two baskets on my own.  I scoped out the aisles for the items on the list and plunged into the fray.  The stock boys must have thought I was damn scary.  Despite the somewhat see-through nature of the skirt and the very visible nature of the cleavage, not a single one tried to hit on me.  Sad for Squirrel.

Don returned with the card and we finished off the shopping, with brief periods of me agonizing over the butter verses margarine debate, deciding the issue once more with “They’re Cammies.  They can deal,” and grabbing packs of the much cheaper margarine.  Where I could, I snagged two-packs, bulk deals, extra large containers, and took advantage of our Winn Dixie Card O’Discountedness.  In the end, we wound up being able to afford COKES, as they were not that much more expensive than the store brand.  Don dashed off for one last run for Mountain Dew type COKES, and I stuffed the wad of cash up under my corset.  Don made it roughly halfway through a remark about the wad making me look pregnant and stopped when I straightened up and flattened the bones.  “That’s a good corset.”

While checking out, the ladies were very amused by our purchases, curious about why we were dressed up, and seemed grateful that we were so polite, even going to fetch new bread when it turned out that our 99 cent specials had gone all squishy.  They especially got a kick out of me pulling the wad from under my corset.  However, not even those amusements could entertain them enough to make them want us to come back again in the morning until after their shifts were both over.  Such is the life of retail.

Don and I load up the car, with Don attempting to be manly by refusing to allow me to load the 24 packs of COKES.  I had let him do it in the store, but by that point just wanted to get the hell out of there.  For some reason the idea of me hauling 24 packs of COKES was more impressive than being able to stuff $233 up my corset.  Go figure.  When we were done, by trunk was nearly full.  Considering it’s big enough to haul three “missing” bodies and enough cement to make sure they stay “missing,” it made a pretty impressive haul.  There were also several bags of more perishable stuff in my back seat, including the non-squishy bread.

Upon returning to the hotel, we ran into the problem of getting our haul up to hospitality without the person at the front desk getting suspicious.  I was personally of the opinion that no matter what we did, they were probably going to figure out that we were hauling food around, so we might as well just get it over with.  Instead, the gentleman from the suite hauled down a bunch of boxes to pack it all in.  Chip boxes.  We were hiding the food….  in food boxes.  Nothing quite like hiding things in plain sight, I suppose.  The food made it upstairs in grand style, and we even came out with $60 left over, plus the donations that had been wrangled out of the various occupants of the room, of which there were considerably more, as the game had ended.  No more roleplay for Squirrel.  Ah well.

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