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Hey, Bonita!

Get Ready to Rumpus

The Wild Rumpus is one of the most quintessentially “Athens” happenings of the year. It’s a product of the local hivemind that still has a distinctly guerilla and unorganized spirit to it, even after 15 years. I mean, of course it’s organized—it has a board of directors, after all—but all I was told for my first Rumpus was to put on whatever costume I wanted and show up at Pulaski Street and Hancock Avenue by 7 p.m. if I wanted to walk in the parade. Bring an instrument if you want, I was also informed, but it was specifically described to me as a rogue event that anyone could participate in. I’m not sure how true that actually is, but I know I’ve walked in many Rumpuses and not once have I been ushered out of line for not having registered. As a matter of fact, that’s my preferred way to reach my favorite spot for watching the parade—I just walk along with other paraders until I’ve reached my preferred location, and then I hop out of line and become a spectator.

I always dress up, even if it can be described as lazy or low effort. Maybe I’ll just wear my “Shark Attack” T-shirt this year over something warm, or I might do black metal corpse paint for the zillionth time. I do have an adult baby costume from my scumbag days on the East Coast (it’s handmade to my measurements—all lazy dressers were once overcommitted ones), but these days I feel like babies are too dumb to make fun of—they can’t help it! They literally just got here. Should I go out and get a skeleton onesie and red lipstick like every other aging slut? Or maybe just wear cat ears and chain-smoke all night like a Go Bar waif of olde.  

But please keep in mind that the Rumpus is for all Athenians, families included. You wouldn’t want to, oh I don’t know, decide to dress up as Sexy Menstruation and smear fake blood all down your thighs just to get downtown and be surrounded by toddlers dressed like The Wiggles. I’m sure I’ve shared this story here before, but that doesn’t mean that I’m still not face-palming hard enough to leave a mark. Nobody told me it was a family event! Not a single one of you! I spent my first Rumpus freezing cold with my back pressed against the Cillie’s window praying that no one would notice me, and I don’t want that for you. Put on your best costume that you would feel comfortable with any stranger of any age or background seeing on you and get to know your city a little better.  

If this all sounds too townie or lame to you, then you need to step up and expand your worldview. Maybe you’re someone who’s just moved to town or transferred to one of our many higher education institutions, and you have no idea what people mean when they call this place weird. Looks like a regular old college town to you. Your circle may be too small to reach all corners of our city, or maybe you just haven’t made it to the other side of the Khaki Line yet. Maybe you spend your time nestled in a diaspora community that doesn’t have a space for them downtown, or perhaps you’ve always just told yourself that certain things are for some and not for others. As a person of color, I’m always delighted by seeing how everyone shows their face at the Rumpus, and how there’s space for all of us in our “rogue” parade. You’ll see nuclear families dressed as the Flintstones or incredibly elaborate group costumes designed to make a clear political point. There was a couple last year dressed as lost Cosmonauts (Google it and scream with me, please), and their glowing ghostly visages are still burned behind my eyelids. You’ll see things at the Rumpus that you’ll never forget, like a shivering young woman covered in corn syrup and food coloring while cursing every new friend she’s made in this whimsical town. Again, there will be children at the Rumpus, and it’ll probably be cold out. Dress accordingly!

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