October is breast cancer awareness month. Each October, the company I work for sponsors a gunge tank and a company employee volunteers to sit in it and get slimed. Normally there always at least one or two good-natured women around the office willing to risk there personal cleanness for the sake of charity and to raise money for a good cause. But this year, none were so forthcoming. And so with only a few days left before the gunging, that always takes place on the first weekend of the month. ;I felt that, because of a lack of volunteer, and because as head of HR (Human Resource) it would not be fitting for I to go into the tank, I felt that the event had to be canceled and the money returned to those who donated.
That is, till late one afternoon when I was trying to catch up on some paperwork, or make a dent in the never-ending pile of paperwork that had been building up on my desk for ages. As I plowed through the endless stream of forms, request and reports a sudden knock upon my office door broke my concretion. I looked up from my work and blinked, and silently swore the person who was knocking on my door and wrecking my train of thought. But quickly regaining my composer I took a deep breath and called out.
"Its open, please come on in."
The door open and in the doorway stood a young woman, one of the high school students we employ to pick up the slack a few days during the week. She had long red hair that reached down to the small of her back. She wore a pleated khaki skirt and a white blouse. White stocking and black low heel shoes completed the look. A soft blush colored her cheekbones.
"Hello," I said my eyes starting to fix on the young women who had appeared in my doorway.
"Hello, I'm Margaret, Margaret Rose Potter." She said smiling. She then reached around and pulled her purse around and started to fish around. Finally, she pulled out a folded piece of paper, she unfolded the paper and held up the poster. The poster was one of the many I'd hung around the office and around the town in search of a brave volunteer. "I was wondering if you're still searching for a volunteer."
I smiled, I could not believe my luck. Somebody had willing walked into my office and had offered themselves. No strings attached, no bribing, no arm twisting none of that silly stuff. I quickly cleared my desk of the varies items, paperweights, papers, forms and a coffee mug still filled with coffee from this morning, coffee that no doubt gone cold by now.
"Yes please, come sit down and I'll give you a form or two to fill out," I said smiling. I then quickly reached down and fished out the forms from the many drawers of my desk.
The young women smiled and nodded her head as she strolled into the office. Her hips started to sway back and force and before long she was seated in front of me. Once she was seated she reached over and picked the forum up and gave me a little smile.
"So how many others have volunteered for this?" She said as she filled out the last box and handed the form back to me. I reached over, took the form from her and gave it a once over, I nodded my approval and slipped the form into a neat stack of finished paperwork.
"Well you're the one so far. So right now it seems your going into the tank. You do know you will get a bit messy from this? And you are okay with getting messy are you not?" I inquired as I folded my hands in front of me and fixed her with a look.
"Of course. I've always wanted to get slimed. Like this is going to sound silly, but back in the day. I use to watch these game shows that aired on Nickelodeon a few years ago. You know, those always had people getting slimed and pied and stuff. And it always looked pretty fun you know. So while I was like doing stuff around the station, I noticed some of the posters you had hung up and they drew me in. I really like the fact that you drew it in 'Anime' style."
I smiled and I peered toward Margaret, she returned my smile with my own. I then cleared my throat and took another deep breath.
"So, as you know, this weekend they're going to be holding the annual Magnolia Carnival downtown. Now, the main events going to take place on the fairgrounds. So, they're going to be a lot of people watching. And the local clown, Sophie will be there, tying balloon animals and stuff. So, wear something you don't mind getting messy." I said as I started to play with one of the pens that sat on my desk.
Margaret nodded her head.
"Sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun." She said smiling a little as she peered toward me. "And all the money raised goes straight to charity right?" She inquired as she peered toward me.
I raised an eyebrow and nodded my head.
"Of course, all the money raised goes to breast cancer research." I folded my hands in the center and placed them on the desk and offered her a little smile. "Any reason for you to ask?" I inquired as I peered toward her.
"Oh, I had an aunt that was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. She passed away this spring. And I really want to do something to honor her memory." She reached up and started to play with her long ponytail. A deep blush was coloring her face as she peered up at me. She then flashed me one of those smiles that seemed to light up the whole room. It was then I knew, I had found the perfect one to get slimed in our yearly fundraiser.
"Okay, Miss. Potter." I said reaching across the desk and shaking her hand. "Thank you for signing up, and I'll see you at the fair this weekend." And with that, we shook hands and Margaret stood up and walked out of the door and I returned to the mountain of paperwork. Well, that was one less thing to worry about.
The morning of the fair dawned cool and crisp. Farmers from nearby farms were arriving, the beds of there trucks loaded down with autumn produce, fresh from there fields. By mid-morning, the morning sun had melted away faint frost that had coated the ground that morning. By early afternoon, the sun was high in the sky and the tempter was climbing. By late afternoon the fairground seemed to come alive.
The air was thick with the smell of ground sausage that had been molded around a stick, and that had been dipped in a honey batter and dropped into smoking hot vats of cooking oil filled the air along with the smell of frying dough boys and corn dogs. The buttery smell of freshly popped popcorn scented the air, along with the smell of polish sausages, hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken leg all being grilled on huge open fire pits.
Adding to the smell of fair food being cooked, was also the smell of burning Hickory, Cherry, and Oak, the holy trinity of the fabled pit-masters, that is regional men who have achieved some noticeable skill in the fabled art of cooking meat over a bed of hot charcoal, a style of cooking called barbeque.
Yes, the bit masters where plying there trade as they stood over the meat, holding big cups of special homemade sauces. With loving hands and an eye for detail, they hovered over the big slabs of meat, basing and saucing as they saw fit. Once the pit-masters had finished there cooking, and the judges, me being one of them had tasted and sampled all the offered fair and all the ribbon and prizes had been an award. It was time for the main event. The charity sliming.
It seemed the whole of Benton had gathered before the booth. The booth had been constructed of white PVC piping that oddly enough had been supplied by Potter Mercantile, the same Potter's that my volunteer had belonged too. Sitting atop of the tank there was a tank. The tank was really a tank within a tank. Some fifty gallons of creamy, pastel pink slime sat posed above an old wooden barstool. Packed tightly around the tank where sheets of dry ice, that had also been supplied by Potter Mercantile.
As I paced around the tank, I could not help but notice the skill, dedication, and talent that our team of Juniors and Seniors from the local vocational center had poured into building the thing. I was very pleased and upon seeing the finished product, I had to agree the lad's who had worked on the ting had earned there pay and there keep. See we made a point in employing local talent whenever possible. Heck, most of our broadcasters, technicians and general staff were all local hands.
But, yes as I paced, I noticed time seemed to be slipping up on us. We where ten minutes till the gunging and not hide nor hair of my volunteer had shown up. I was starting to fear the worst when at last Margaret showed up. Her flaming red hair had hung loosely around her shoulder blades. She wore a simple, pastel pink tank-top and a white tennis skirt. Simple, plastic flip-flops, the kind you can buy at any dollar store and finally her toenails had been painted a nice rose red. Standing behind her, was her mother. Her mother Edith Mari Potter was something of the town's social butterfly.
Edith wore a simple, mint green cardigan and a white dress, brown heeled sandals rounded out her outfit. Her honey blonde hair was styled back in a high ponytail. And her blue eyes seemed too dark from one corner to the other. Her hands, where gently resting upon her daughter's shoulders. Finally, her eyes settled on me.
"Sorry, we're late. We ran into some trouble finding a parking space." She said as she patted her daughter on the shoulders. Margaret was shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she looked down on the damp, green shoots of grass. "Molly though is ready. I trust they're going to be a shower nearby." She said patting her shoulder in a loving manner.
"Of course, there a shower in the locker room. Its been fully stocked too." I paused and because the night seemed a little chilly, as is often the case this time of the year. "I'd even had the park guy turn on the hot water," I added.
"Creature comforts." Added Edith as she said with a smile. "Anyway, Molly I'll be sitting in the front row, please come find me when you're done." She then reached into her purse a pulled out one of those new digital cameras that was quickly becoming popular with the upper-middle class. "And something to redeemer your big night by!" She said with a wink.
A light rose colored blush colored her high porcelain cheeks as she noticed the camera in her mother's hands. She then shrugged her shoulders before sticking her pink tongue out and saying.
"Jeez, thank you, mom." She said before bursting into a fit of giggles.
Edith grinned and patted her daughter on the shoulder and smiled.
"Any time peddle. Anyway, go break a leg out there." And with that, Margaret and I watched Edith vanish into the crowd. I don't know if she found her front row seat. The front row had been reserved for the movers and shakers of the town.
"So are you ready?" I asked as I gave Margaret a smile as ushered toward the gunge tank. As mentioned before, sheets of dry ice had been all packed around the outer wall. Causing the gunge inside to become near freezing cold without really freezing. It's safe to say the skimpy outfit Margaret had chosen to wear will provide zero protection from the soon to be freezing rain that will pour down upon her.
Margaret took a deep breath as she started to walk toward the tank. Judging by the size of the gathered crowd, all three thousand souls that call Benton home must have been she walked toward the tank, Margaret offered the crowd a little wave. Once she approached the inside, she another breath, turned to face the crowd, gave them a little smile and kicked off her plastic flip flops and pushed them to the side. She then tiptoed her way into the tank. A deep blush colored her cheeks as she climbed up and eased her bottom down upon the bar stool.
Once she was seated, she placed her hands in her lap and took a deep breath as she giggled as she peered up at the slop that hovered above her head. The gunge now had also taken on the appearance of being mostly frozen bits of slush. It reminded of a slushee in a way. And there Margaret sat, posed perfectly under the nozzle of the tank. Her arms and legs bare and then it happened. In the blink of an eye, the cork holding the semi-frozen liquid in place was removed the gunge started to pour out.
The first bits hit Margaret on the top of her head, her loud girlish squeal filled the autumn air. The sludge then rolled down her sides and slid down her back and poured down her front. The freezing, cold slime then slipped down her top, causing her to squeal even louder than before. As the slop rolled on, it coated the front of the blouse, weighing it down and for a minute made me wonder if the top itself would get pulled down.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a stage-hand walking toward the tank. Another stage-hand followed him, the first one held a very large five-gallon bucket, the second one held a folding-step up a ladder. The one with the folding-step up the ladder quickly placed it down behind the tank, and the one holding the bucket started to climb the ladder.
As he reached the top of the ladder, he smiled and offered the crowd a little wave. Margaret who was still sitting in the tank was doing the best she could trying to clear away the slop from her. A puddle was starting to form at the bottom of the tank. And some small drops of gunge where starting to run down her legs. A pool had also been formed in her lap.
The crowd, seeing the man standing on top of the ladder started to laugh and clap. And some of the men in the crowd started to wolf whistle. No doubt causing Margaret to blush even deeper. Then it hit, the bucket was slowly tipped and another, warmer wave of slime in the same bubblegum pink color started to spill over the side.
The gunge this time, being more of a liquid and less of a semi-frozen solid poured down the funnel and coated Margaret's head and legs. Every square inch of her had been coated it seemed with pastel pink slime. The crowd again roared with laughter and applauded as she stood up, and tried to walk out of the tank, as she stood to face the crowd. Sophie the clown, snuck up behind her and balancing a thick, custard cream pie in her right hand tapped her on the shoulder with her left hand.
As Margaret turned her head. Sophie smiled and pushed the pie right into her face and smeared the thick layer of custard and cream from the top to the bottom. She even gave the pie a good twist to get maximal coverage. The crowd burst into a fresh roar of laughter. And Margaret taken by surprised slipped and fell flat on her bottom, exposing her pink and white polka-dotted panties to the crowd, who once more roared with laughter.
I smirked a little, that little act had been the cherry on the sundae if you will. Patting myself on the back, I melted into the shadows. Later that night, as the tank was being hosed down and scrubbed clean, I found Margaret and her mother standing in the parking lot of the fair. Margaret had an extra large towel drabber over her shoulders and wrapped around her body, her red hair hung down in tangle knots like the head of a well-used mop.
"Hey," I said as I offered Margaret and her mom a small little wave of the hand. "I just wanted to say thank you. That was really brave of you to volunteer like that." I said smiling.
Margaret smiled and nodded her head.
"It was fun." She said. And maybe as a afterthought, she added, "But I'm totally not going in next year… that was a once in a lifetime deal."
Fair play I thought and there are story comes to an end.