Patty Cake at Center Camp

August 29, 2002 9:15 a.m.

A rotund woman, pinched into a pink tutu, holds her spatula like a scepter. I am waiting in line at Pancake Playhouse. “Enough for all. Have your plates ready. Enough for all,” she chants as she scans the lengthening queue.

“We have to bring our own plates?” asks the slender woman with Grace Kelly hair behind me. “Do you have an extra?”

“Sorry, this is for my friend. He’s waiting to buy ice over at Camp Arctica,” I tell her.

“Use a piece of my newspaper,” offers a man at the back of the line. He is wearing only a t-shirt. Grace Kelly moves to accept it with an elegant smile.

Stepping back into her place behind me, she confides, “Topless, that’s sexy, bottomless just says mental patient.”

Here you can wear (or not) whatever you want. The only thing you don’t want to be seen in is the kind of t-shirts emblazoned with brand names that clog the malls. While many bare much, taking it all the way is rare. It’s harder to express your individuality when you are buck-naked.

Allen rejoins me as they are placing the steaming cakes on my out stretched plate. I put four pouches of Bisquick in the donation bowl. I’d brought these with visions of offering sun-baked goodies to the Black Rock City populace. Yesterday, the batch I tried in my homemade sun oven dried, but never baked, though the wind driven playa dust did form a crust of sorts.

“We’d like to help,” Allen tells the tutu queen. The folks manning the four griddles all look up. They are having fun and don’t want to be relieved of their duties. We promise to come back later and pitch in for clean up.

by Alpha Betty (Mary Jane LaVigne)

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Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by participants. Submit your story here.