On the second day of my first Midburn I went to the doctor without a cup of tea.
I mean, I did bring my cup with tea inside, but I had forgotten to bring anything for the doctor. It was crazy hot. A sandstorm covered me and my cup in a grey layer of dust. Give me a second,” the doctor said as I entered his clinic. He kneeled next to a woman in her ‘30’s who had fainted and looked very pale. A heat stroke. Very common here. Nothing to do but rest and drink a lot of water.”
The doctor wore a costume that resembled something between an Indian and a Cowboy. He was tall and looked a bit like Christian Bale. I had come to interview him about his work at the playa for an interview in the Midburn Gazette, the newspaper that my Camp PapierDome prints every day during the Midburn.
It was my first reporting assignment on the Playa. I was excited by the idea of doing a story about the dangers of scorpions on the Playa. What should burners do in case they got bitten? Front page story, maybe, as it contained danger and scary animals (but no nudity or sex).
“So,” I said. “Scorpions. What are they like here?”
But the doctor wouldn’t have it. He slowly shook my hand and looked at my cup. It contained dust with tea.Did you also bring something to drink for me?”
I stared at him, puzzled. “I can go to my camp and get you a beer, man. Sorry. It just ehh… I forgot.” (I was a virgin).
The doctor just stood there for a bit and nodded his head. Moments later we were sitting on plastic chairs at the back of his clinic. One of the nurses – small girl, eyes in constant movement – drew pictures in the dust on the table with her index finger. “We call it radical self-expression. It’s important around here,” the doctor said.”Always bring something to share, no matter what.”
I pretended to write down his words in my notebook, but I just wrote some ideas for headlines about scorpions. I didn’t follow.
“I thought that was gifting. What’s the sharing got to do with radical self-expression?”
“It’s about me reminding you about the sharing so bluntly. I would never do that off the playa. Can’t fight the courage. What’s radical self-expression to you?”