Langerado 2008: Strawberry Shortcake’s key changes

By the time Sam Bush stepped to the stage on Friday afternoon, the south Florida sun had breached the clouds and enforced every sunscreen rule my mother ever preached. I sat on the ground in front of the Swamp Stage and readied myself to see the show. The Joker brought me a frozen drink, G-Rob slipped into quiet reflection, and Sweet, Sweet Pablo appeared for the first time. He talked to us abot the trees on the horizon and that seemed enough.

Midway through the show, a ginger bob of hair bobbed through the crowd. It stopped in front of the Joker. At the moment, I was caught up in the music. A few minutes later, the Joker turned and told the red headed girl, “This is Otis.”

The girl wrapped me in a hug so warm, it out-squeezed most people who have known me for decades.

“Otis,” she said. It was a statement.

Her name–her real name– was mentioned. It became irrelevant, though. By that night, Uncle Ted had dubbed the sweet, bouncy character “Strawberry Shortcake.”

Strawberry Shortcake (right) — courtesy of Pauly

Shortcake liked to be happy. It was evident. The smile rarely left her face and when it did, it was only to reset her mouth for a laugh. Friday night, she joined us for the Beastie Boys show on the Everglades stage. While we all looked forward to seeing the show, none of us expected the Beastie Boys to come out and put on such a good set. As many of you are aware, I’m not much for the rhymin’ and stealin’ bands. This show, however, was among the top three I saw at the entire festival.

For much of the show, Shortcake stood beside me. None of us talked much except to exchange glances that said, “Is this is good as my brain says it is?” Over time, though, I started paying more attention to Shortcake.

When a song finished, I leaned over to her and said quietly, “Do you realize that you laugh everytime the band changes keys?”

Shortcake laughed. “What?”

“When they change from the key of G to the key of A, you laugh.”

In fact, it didn’t matter whether it was the Key of C, the key of B-flat, or some mash-up of keys I don’t even know. If they key changed–which it did frequently in the Beastie Boys’ set–Shortcake let loose an unconcious laugh. It was as endearing as almost anything I saw during the festival.

Though I’ve been going to festivals and large concerts for the better part of my adult life, Langerado was the biggest and longest of festivals I’ve attended. One thing that remains constant among all the trips, though, is how easy it is to find like-minded spirts and people you genuinely like. In the many years we’ve been attending the Lake Eden Arts Festival, we’ve made many a friend. Several years ago, our camp site took a huge interest in a 1970s model tent heater that a woman was using nearby. By the next morning, Jane was our friend. This many years later, Jane is still an integral part of tent city. We’ve come to know most of her family and consider them our own.

That’s just the way it goes at these things. I guess that’s what happens when you put a bunch of people who like the same thing in the same place. If only somehow I could find a way to make that kind of thing happen in everyday life.