Let the Party Begin...
It is a warm May evening, and you are driving through the suburbs of southeastern Virginia, hoping, maybe, to find a quiet beach for a long stroll in the moonlight, just like you've always read about in the personals. Unfortunately, you seem to have gotten very, very lost, and are trapped in a maze of cul-de-sacs. The lawns are all as neatly manicured as a golf-course, and the two car garages are all closed for the night. Peering into a few of the windows, you catch glimpses of t.v.s with the evening news on, and toy-strewn floors. You sigh. If there's any romance here, it's all very domestic now. You decide to turn around and try to find your way home.
But you make a wrong turn, and drive into another cul-de-sac. The scene, here, however, is very different. Cars of every shape and color, with license plates from as far away as Australia and Finland, and every place else, line the asphalt circle. Squeezed in between the cars are Police Boxes, Greek pillars, and several free-standing doors, each draped with black crepe, as though in mourning. The epicenter of all this is a small grey house with blue shutters. Several helium filled balloons are tied to a lamppost at the end of the driveway, along with a large cardboard sign, announcing "THE SECOND ANNUAL PRO-FUN TROLL HOE-DOWN HERE! All Welcome!" "All" seems to be taken literally. The sounds of laughter and fiddling pour from behind the house's doors, and party-goers have spilled onto the front lawn, standing in groups of three and four, talking and laughing. There must be at least a hundred people here. Whoever they are, they're not the kind of people you'd expect to see in an Upstanding Community like this one. Even stranger still is that the neighbors don't even seem to notice what is going on. You, however, notice with alarm that several of the guests seem to be children, dressed up in strange costumes left over from last Halloween: like Teletubby outfits sewn together by someone high on pot.
As you slow down, wondering whether you should call the police, someone in the crowd waves to you and calls out: "Come on! Join in! Don't be a lurker!"
"What the hell," you think, "at least I may get some action." You park your car and get out.
"Go on in," your new friend says to you. "The dessert table is to die for this year!" And as if to punctuate that remark, he licks chocolate frosting off his fingers.
As you make your way to the door, you realize that the "children" aren't children at all, but real, honest to goodness aliens -- or somethings -- short, round creatures with long noses and longer tails, big bare feet, and bigger grins. Some are clothed, but many more are naked (or nearly so, since each one of them is wearing a brightly colored paper birthday hat -- all except for one, who has tied a plush toy Gengar to the top of his head). A potent mix of eager excitement and nightmarish apprehension well up inside you as you reach for the door handle, but you've come too far to turn back now. You take a deep breath, brace yourself, and push open the door.
But no amount of bracing could prepare you for what is beyond that threshold: a real, honest-to-goodness barn -- at least 2,000 square feet of floorspace, and every inch of it, it seems, is filled with people and creatures, each there to celebrate for a reason of their own. Balloons of every color, and crepe paper twists of every other color, line the ceiling, and drape over the partitions between the animal stalls. The stalls themselves have been swept spotlessly clean, and in the place of their former occupants stand tables groaning with food of every sort. Over each stall, where the animals' names used to hang, are various announcements: "Happy Birthday, Alryssa!", "Congratulations, Cardinal Krizu and Auntie Zorak!", "We're Happy, too, Paul Ebbs!" "Gareth for the Ninth Doctor!", "Happy Birthday, Ol' Blue -- 15 May, 1963!". Down at the end of the line of stalls, however, is the one somber place in the whole scene, the sign above draped in black crepe just like the doors outside, bearing the words: "Douglas Neil Adams, RIP".
You barely have time to take this all in, however, before the lights go out. Then a single spotlight snaps on, illuminating a small round stage in the center of the floor. One of the strange creatures is standing there, wearing a highly embroidered fishing vest with bulging pockets, and holding a fiddle in one hand. An expectant hush falls over the crowd. The troll (for that's what she is) raises the fiddle to her shoulder and begins to play. It's an old folk tune you're sure you've heard before, but you can't quite place it. Soon, the troll adds her voice and words to the melody:
Once I lived on the mountain top, now I live in town;
(clap clap The wildly clapping figure of Ninni Pettersson, entirely dressed in black and sporting an enormous grey cat lolling in the crook of one arm, fades discreetly into the background, appears momentarily at the bar to snare a gin & tonic, and then makes herself unobtrusive again.)
"What have I gotten myself into?" you wonder aloud.
A short, turquoise troll at your elbow overhears you. "Well," she says, "if last year's party was any indication, I'd say you've gotten into a fantastic adventure!" She proffers a crumpled paper bag filled with sweet fruit candies. "Would you like a jelly baby?"
Cameron Mason reaches into the back and pulls out a red jelly baby. "My favourite!" he exclaims.
A large U-boat, painted in a purple and green camouflage pattern, with a big smiley face on the front, trundles into the car park on extendable monster truck wheels.
A hatch on the conning tower opens and from the mist appear several shadowy figures, in uniform.
The sinister effect is somewhat spoilt by the party hats, the goofy grins and the fact they're all on spacehoppers...
The Captain and a cheerful hunchback are last out. As the crew bounce off the deck and into the house, Captain Gordon (for it is he) reminisces with Igor about catching the end of last years event.
Our Hostess finishes licking the 'spilled' drops of fondue cheese from her fingers, and looks out at the cul-de-sac to see who is arriving next. She grins a large grin from ear to large ear at the sight of Captain Gordon and his crew. She pauses, though, when she hears Gordon start to reminisce:
"I was a newbie to RADW. I didn't know what rolls, pro-fun or otherwise, were at that time."
:::Oh dear, she thought -- those typo gremlins are bold this year... I'd better set out some gremlin repellent. They can really create havoc in the fictional dimension -- you never know what strange twists in a plot can happen when they get loose!:::
"I didn't even bother lurking, I just jumped straight in without thinking." He smiles. "I think I got away with it though!"
"The very first thing I saw was the first Pro-Fun Hoedown. I had no idea how it had started, or exactly what it was. I just knew it was daft, silly and fun. I knew I'd found a home!"
Captain Gordon and Igor walk to the end of the stalls and stand for a moment, hats held in their hands in respect for Mr. Adams.
"He was one of the people who showed me what pro-fun was all about." Gordon says, quietly. He turns to Igor. "You go on ahead, I'll catch up with you."
Gordon finds a small stall that has no banner, nor anything else in it for the moment. He removes his big black coat and holds it in front of the stall before whipping it away to reveal a small, round table, with a large smiley hand-painted onto it. A photograph and a small plaque sit at its centre. The photo shows a smiling old man, in a black suit, with a smiley badge on one of the lapels. The plaque reads -
"Harvey Ball died on April 12th 2001, at the age of 79. He was one of those people whose name wasn't well known, but what he brought to the world touched us all. In 1963, he designed the original smiley face to put on badges for a morale boosting campaign at an insurance company. His design spread throughout the world. It has become a worldwide symbol for fun. R.I.P. Harvey Ball. We may not have known you, but your smiley will live on."
Gordon lowers his head in respect, for a moment...
He twirls round in a blaze of colour. He wears a football shirt with the name Adams and the number 42. The front emblazoned with a mahoosive smiley. He takes off his captain's cap to reveal a plush Gengar strapped to his head. His human form discarded, he now looks like he stepped straight out of a particularly silly Chuck Jones cartoon.
He walks round the room for a minute, taking everything in. He recognises a few of the people here, and notices one or two are missing. He instantly recognises the head pro-fun troll, who has been such an inspiration in recent times.
He sees Igor is already delving into his sack and bringing out brightly painted metal pipes, tin cans and monkey wrenches for the percussion section of the band.
"I can't help thinking there's something missing," he ponders.
A light bulb suddenly appears above his head and lights up. (Literally, we're far beyond the realm of serious laws of physics by now...)
He waves his coat (now technicoloured) about a few times, lays it on the floor and whips it up to reveal...
...a bouncy castle and a foot pump.
Before he can finish, a small, but hugely enthusiastic troll is pogoing up and down on the foot pump to the beat of the music, laughing as it does so.
"I don't think this will take long." Gordon says to Igor, who has returned from setting up his...drums, for want of a better word.
They both smile, fiendishly. (But a pro-fun fiendishly...natch.)
Several guests turn in surprise as their hostess sprints from the room, returning shortly after with votive candles that smell a little bit like citronella, and a little bit like licorice. Moving quietly around the room, the avocado green troll places a candle at each end of each table, and lights them one at a time. Unlike other repellent candles these beauties (brand name "Typo-nope") have multi-colored flames, that give off striped, polka-dotted and swirly-colored light.
The hostess smiled. "Don't know if it'll work," she said to herself. "But the effect is sure nice."
By the time she returned to the line of tables, Gordon had already set up his tribute to Harvey Ball, and she stops to read the plaque. "Thank you, Gordon," she said to him, after she had finished reading it. He is truly one of the founding fathers of Pro-Fundom. For where would Pro-Fun trolls be without :)?" She read the plaque again. "'1963', huh? A very good year, on many counts!", and she threw Gordon a .
Turning around, she caught sight of the bouncy castle, and all the trolls lining up to dance the edifice into being. "Yay!" She exclaimed. "It's perfect!"
From his near-permanent encampment near the food tables a tall young man in a bright green jacket that clashes badly with his bright red shirt and appears to be a battleground between Doctor Who and Discworld icons looks at this scene with an expression of combined apprehension and interest. Then he shrugs and returns his attention to the food. You notice that although he joins conversations readily, he doesn't really start any, unless you count "Is thins vegetarian? Oh, good."
"Is this vegetarian?" Daibhid corrects himself, adding "Darn those typo gremlins! Darn 'em all to Heck!" Still, he seems glad to be there.
Three typo gremlins pop up behind him and cackle. Bokman chases them away with a flashlight, then exclaims "Okay, who brought the Mogwai?"
At this point, a large grey owl flies into the barn and turns into a short furry creature with enormous eyes and wearing a shocking pink party hat. From under the party hat, Nyctolops produces an enormous bowl of guacamole and a giant bag of tortilla chips.
"Ah, I thought I heard someone asking for something vegetarian, so I brought this. Enjoy!"
She finds a place for the guacamole and chips on the table and wanders off to greet the Pro-Fun Trolls and other guests.
As you watch, a young man in a battered green anorak hurries over to the Douglas Adams RIP sign, and replaces it with a new one, which reads:
Douglas Noel Adams (1952 - 2001) "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."The avocado green troll puts down her fiddle and trots over to the young man. Noticing the sign which has just been replaced, she shakes her head in wonder.
"It's those durn typo gremlins," she commented. "I just hope they don't cause any more trouble than that, this year..."
Gordon tuts as he walks by. "It was bad enough when they had the Doctor peeing over a shelf..."
"Reminds me of the time Nicolas Bryant came to visit," comments Bokman, searching for a place to put the fondue pot...
"Typo Gremlimss, what Tipoh Gremlins?" asks Cameron as he places a Bread and Butter Pudding on a table.
Our Hostess leads Bokman to the "hot foods" buffet table. "I was hoping someone would bring fondue," she said, sniffing appreciatively. "It's always been one of my favorites." As she makes sure the warming plate is working properly, she asks: "So, this Nicholas Bryant ... Nice fellow, is he? Think he'll show up tonight?"
Story by members of rec.arts.drwho / HTML layout by Igenlode Wordsmith, modified by Imran Inayat
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