I think I should give you all some back story before going into this.


Long ago in a city of not-so-brotherly love I closed myself up inside a few bad relationships. During the final relationship there, I could not express myself without fear of alienating this person and his family or coming off as an over-educated snob. I couldn’t converse with people and likewise they thought my intelligence intimidating. I don’t say this to be uppity. This was actually a true quote told to me.

So I bottled it up. Upon going to this guy’s relatives’ house for Easter I sat quietly in a crumbling row ‘house’… literally crumbling. In a dangerous neighborhood where public transportation rarely went. The only thing of worth: a big screen TV with cable.

As the Discovery Channel eventually occupied people’s attention, one man I remember from a previous family wedding. I remember him because his little daughter had deep bruises all over her upper arms. In the shape of fingers.

As the TV talked about cephalopods… I headed up to the bathroom. I heard this man say slightly angrily, ‘cephalopod, what’s a cephalopod?’

Unable to control myself I said, ‘It’s a squid,’ as I marched up the stairs. I know that was bad form. I spoke up… but I felt triumphant. I just couldn’t hold anything in any longer.

Upon returning downstairs, the man grabbed my wrist and said, ‘Here, hold out your hand,’ and tried to ash his lit cigarette into my palm. I flicked my wrist out of his grasp and said, ‘I’m sorry but I’m allergic to people who ash in my hand …’

Flash forward to Burning Man 2003:

The night of the burn. The Man has burned. My boyfriend (a different and fabulous man) and I are dancing to the Extra Action Marching Band when I turn around and see a beautiful golf cart with a flowing squid on top. People are dancing after it.

I shout, ‘Oh look! It’s a cephalopod!’

A woman hears me and, smiling, turns and shouts back, ‘Yes, yes! It is a cephalopod!’ And I dance after it.

I felt like all those horrible years of holding back were now gone forever.

by Cowgirl

About the author: Tales From the Playa

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.