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A 'Day in the Park' That Wasn't Quite So.

Today I shall tell you a tale. The sad, pathetic tale, of my BMEfest 'Day in the Park' that wasn't quite so.

I have been on IAM for 3 years and using BME as my main source for Body Modification related education/information for longer. Ever since I heard of it years ago, I had wanted to attend BMEfest. Unfortunately it wasn't really an option. Prior to moving to Toronto I lived in small rural town and it wasn't in the cards to come to the city for the event.

Once I moved to Toronto, to pursue a University education, I thought that I would finally have the opportunity to attend BMEfest and meet some of the people that I had become familiar with, through IAM. Again, it wasn't meant to happen. Last year BMEfest was held in Mexico. That's a long way from Toronto. Although there was a part of me that wanted to jump on a plane and get the hell out of Canada for once, it didn't happen.

This year BMEfest was held in Toronto. As soon as I heard this news I knew I had to make this year the year that I finally attended the event. I RSVPed myself, on the event page, with a 90% confirmation rate. I was quite confident that I'd be attending.

Throughout my 3 years in Toronto I have met a number of people that are highly interested in piercings and tattoos, like myself. Therefore, I thought that I'd know a few people that were interested in attending the event also. I was correct – I did know people who wanted to go. However, due to the fact that it was the long weekend, they couldn't. One of my friends was going home to the long weekend and my old roommate had a family reunion back home that she was obligated to attend. I immediately thought "Damn it" when I found out that they couldn't attend. Then it hit me – my boyfriend has an obsession with tattoos and he could come with me.

Long before the event was scheduled to take place I told my boyfriend to book time off of work. We both worked at the same place and I flipped the 'Time off Calendar' ahead a few months and signed my name. There was one little obstacle, though. The summer months are a blackout period. We can request time off, but it's not a guarantee. My boss told me this and also told me that the Canada Day weekend would be busy and I may have to work. My response was something along the lines of "I guess I'll have to quit then". I was serious.

I did end up quitting. My old boss got fired for a bull shit reason and I decided that I'd quit to show that I didn't support the actions of Head Office. However, I kind of screwed my boyfriend over – since they lost 2 employees, they had to hire and train. My boyfriend ended up getting scheduled for July 1st. I was not impressed. Luckily, he managed to switch shifts with the 1 other key holder. Therefore he'd be able to attend the evening portion of the event, but not the 'Day in the Park'.

Since he couldn't attend the High Park festivities, I decided that I wouldn't be able to either. Although I've gotten better since I moved to Toronto, I am still quite shy. That meant that I would probably have a hard time introducing myself to people at the event. I posted an entry on IAM stating that I would be going to BMEfest in the evening, but that I wouldn't be going during the day because I wouldn't know anybody. Immediately I got messages telling me that I had to come during the day, the IAMers were very welcoming and that I'd have so much fun. I was semi convinced. Then I found out that the event was space limited and that tickets would be on sale during the day, at the park. That meant that I absolutely had to go to High Park to buy tickets for my boyfriend and I. I was nervous, but also excited.

As the day approached I got more and more excited as the thoughts went through my head. My plan was to bring Dinglehopper, my dog, with me to the park when I went to get the tickets. I figured he'd like to spend some time with me and get a little fresh air. I also thought that maybe he'd be a bit of an ice breaker – maybe some IAMers would like little ratty Pomeranians like I do, and be compelled to come over and introduce themselves to me.

On the morning of July 1st I woke up earlier than intended. I think it was because I was really excited about the day and night that lay ahead. I was also pathetically nervous with a million thoughts running through my head such as "What do I wear?" (which is so not me), etc. I was also highly worried that I wouldn't get tickets to the evening, that they'd be sold out before I made it there. I made it onto the TTC and down to High Park by 10:30. I was early. High Park was bigger than I had imagined. Once I got there I cursed myself for not re-reading the directions that had been given on the events page. I was convinced that I'd wander the park forever looking for IAMers.

This was not the case. After walking a short distance I saw a little blonde, curly haired girl, amongst a small group of adults. I recognized this girl from Shannon's page, as his daughter. I then immediately recognized Shannon and Ryan. Then it hit me – the nerves kicked in huge. My shyness took the best of me and I felt like I couldn't go over to the group. I thought "Everyone is sitting at the picnic tables talking. Nobody will recognize me. Would I just go and sit at the table?" I then decided I was not going to approach the group just yet. I would casually walk Dinglehopper around and maybe, by the grace of "God", someone would recognize me, since I mentioned in the BMEfest forum, that I'd be bringing my little dog with me.

If I had been in the group and had the opportunity to watch myself I'd have thought I was a complete moron. Here's this girl and her little dog close to the group, yet far enough away to not be associated with them. She's walking her dog around the area in circles, like a stalker, glancing at the group. People probably thought that I was some anti-modification individual staring at everyone because of their tattoos and piercings. This, of course, was not the case. I was longing to join the group, but didn't seem to be able to.

I got tired of walking Dinglehopper around in circles so I sat down and watched Tai Kwan Do, or whatever the group of people beside the BMEfest crew was doing. I also brushed my dog. I was looking for anything to do to not look like the huge loser that I felt like. The small group of people that had initially been at the picnic table had grown significantly in size since I had arrived. I looked at my watch and it was 11:30, an hour after I had got to High Park.

As time ticked on I got more and more frustrated at myself for being shy. I just wanted to get my damn tickets and get the hell out of the park. It's not like I didn't know who I was supposed to get the tickets from – as I said earlier, I knew who Ryan was. Eventually I saw my opportunity. Someone was getting money out of their wallet and Ryan was about to hand them tickets. Deciding it was now or never, I jumped up, grabbed Dinglehopper under my arm and ran to the group.

Probably without making eye contact, I said "Do I get tickets from you?" to Ryan. Of course the answer was yes. He asked how many I wanted and when I said 2, joked that he didn't have a shirt small enough for Dinglehopper. I got out my $50 and was passed my tickets, all while Dingle was enjoying being pet by someone.

I then walked over to the picnic table and put my tickets into the wallet. I stood there for maybe 5 minutes looking around. Everyone was talking to someone – there were little groups of people talking, and pairs of people talking. Everybody appeared to know someone. What was my reaction? I left.

I walked back to the subway station. I decided that maybe Dinglehopper was preventing me from meeting people, since it was annoying to drag him around when all he wanted to do was chew on pine cones and sniff other dogs asses. I planned on taking him home and immediately going back to the park. That's what I did.

I got back to the park around 2pm and the crowd was huge. After staring from afar for a while I decided that I didn't fit in. I thought "Wow, I only have 2 tattoos, not sleeves". "My tattoos aren't visible, everyone else's are". "I've had to keep my 14 piercings to my ears and other non-visible parts of my body – where's my multiple lip piercings, septum piercing, bridge piercing, etc.?" I was officially intimidated and felt like I didn't fit in with the group. Here I am in black capris and a halter top. No visible tattoos and my piercings are hidden by my hair. I looked like all the other park-goers. Perhaps a BME shirt was in order; I'll remember that next year.

I can't explain how upset I was. Here was my chance to attend BMEfest, finally, after years of wanting to. I lived in Toronto and the event was held in Toronto. I was lucky. I didn't have to spend money on a hotel or a plane ticket. I just had to go across town. I was there, in the park, not far away, but I was just an outsider watching everyone else have fun. What did I do? I sat across the park reading a trashy magazine and eating chips. I did this for about an hour, occasionally glancing over at the large group, when I heard an awful hacking cough. I looked up and saw that I was surrounded by old men. Then it hit me – I fit in better with the old guys then my fellow IAMers. Ouch.

With that realization came the point when I decided it was time to go home. Back to the subway I went and home for the day. On the ride home I kept thinking about all the fun I was probably missing, and how I wish that A) my friends had been able to attend or B) that I had met even one IAMer in person before the event, so I could have met up with them.

After that experience I had doubts about whether or not I wanted to attend the evening. I spent $50 on the tickets but thought about saying "screw it" and not going. When my boyfriend got home he laughed at me for being so nervous and said he wished that he had a video camera so he could have seen my ticket getting experience. I also found it humorous, in a pathetic way. My boyfriend decided that we were attending the evening and then I could only think of one thing – "Would the 'Night in Hell' be better than my 5 minute 'Day in the Park'?" I guess we'd have to see.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 05 July 2006
in Culture

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