Behind the Cheese Tour
by Bryn & Scooby

Bryn: Well, it started with registration. I wouldn't let my client talk without a tape recorder, and the Elders seemed a little irritated.

Scooby: So Autumn and Paula came to me. They knew Bryn was useless.

 <Bryn smacks Scooby upside the head>

Bryn: Anyway. I caught NancyFF carrying a loaf of French bread. I thought it was nice of her to bring lunch.

Scooby: That's before we noticed that the bread was more stale than Joan Rivers' sense of humor. We should have known better.  NFF is evil.

Bryn: Exactly. Stale bread and an arsenal of spray paint. Our suspicions were high so I got the details, was sworn to secrecy, and promptly went to find the unsuspecting Cheesologist.

Brynnie OneDress: How do you feel about props?

Beer: Props? What the bleep? I don't do no steenking props!

Bryn: Even shiny gold ones with fake gems?

Beer: !%@&^!@%!&

Bryn: It's way more classy than Pretty Pretty Princess's tiara.

Beer: I hate you.

Bryn: That went well. Beer resigned herself to the stale baguette scepter, especially when I promised she could make someone else carry it. <Scooby rolls her eyes and shakes her head> I thought things were pretty settled then. But this was Fest.  This was Beer. Beer knew the pain of being a nun. A nun of consequence.

Scooby: Little did Bryn know, I had a hidden agenda with the Elders to ensure Beer's complete participation in the cheese parade.

Bryn: Tour. Parade was banned in my client's contract.

Scooby: Whatever. My experience in willing Beer to do whatever I will, whenever I will, however I w- anyway, we were in Beer's truck, on the way to the meadow to frolic, when I saw my chance.

Scooby: Beer, you'd wear a costume for me, wouldn't you?


Scooby: You love me, right?

Bryn: The Cheesologist doesn't do costumes.

Scooby: It would be good for the cheese CHarc.

Bryn (to Beer): You don't have to do anything.

Scooby: They assure me it's very nice.

Beer: Oh right.

Mere: I saw it.

Bryn: So at this point, I totally threaten - er, nicely coaxed Mere into spilling specifics of the costume.

Scooby: I really didn't know the details. I just knew I had to get Beer to wear this thing or Paula would smoosh me to tiny bits. I was really relieved when Mere revealed all.

Scooby: Oh, it's a hat. Just a hat, Beer.

Beer: A hat?

Bryn: You don't have to wear it.

Beer: I am so not doing that. Hey, look at the horses. There were more in '99.

Scooby: Poor little horsies. They're so sad. They are crying because Beer won't wear the hat.

Mere: Aw, look at the little ponies.

Skull: Poor sick ittle limping ponies.

Scooby: Neighing in pain.

Skull: Mean heartless Beer who won't do one little thing to save their lives.

Scooby: She's dead inside.

Skull: I come all the way from Australia for Fest, and will she wear a costume for my first cheese tour ever? No. <sniffle>

Beer: Goddammit.

Scooby: It was effective, but I still hadn't sealed the deal.  Autumn and Paula cornered me by a picnic table and expressed concern that Beer wasn't totally committed to the costume.

Bryn: It really came down to the night before the big event, in the LGC compound. Someone brought out the scepter.

Lensie: NancyFF spent hours making this beautiful, uh, thing.  Look, streamers! See how shiny? I wish I had one. It's shinier than my plaque. It's something you will be proud of for all eternity.

Beer: No.

Lensie: You're the star attraction. I would just love to be the star attraction.

Beer: Where's my manager?!

SOGgy crowd, whining: Puleeeeease?

Beer: I hate you.  No.

NancyFF: Oh, honey! You better sit up and cooperate. In my closet I got several yards of crushed purple velvet with your name on them.


Scooby: So I pleaded and scratched her head and was just too adorable. That totally broke her.

Bryn: Yup. Done broke her good.

Scooby: I didn't mean to break her exactly. I was doing it for the Cheese CHarc. And the sick ponies.

Bryn: You're a liar. You did it because you fear Paula's horns.

Scooby: *cough*I think we're about finished here*cough*

Bryn: And that's essentially exactly how it happened that the Cheesologist to the Star, despite reassurance from her lovely and talented manager that she didn't have to do or wear anything or anyone, ended up in a cheese fez and purple robes while cradling a golden bread loaf.

Scooby: Except for the part where she slammed a whole Fat Tire and then you had to give her more alcohol to keep her on the tour.

Bryn: Right.

Scooby: And the part where she threatened to only bring out the smelly cheese if we didn't shut up.

Bryn: Sure.

Scooby: And the endless whining. Deah Gott. Like when she.

Bryn: I think that's enough. My client will so kick your ass.

Scooby: She liked the costume. She did. Especially the cape.

Bryn: Did not. Maybe the hat.

Scooby, giggling: Oh, she totally loved the tassels. Say, is it true that she put themmmmph

<interview ends as Bryn tries to duct-tape Scooby's mouth shut>


The Reign of the Cheesebutantes
by Nancy FF 

You know, that Sister Beer is truly amazing.  Why, not only does she supply the Abbey with all manner of liquor-related information (like the hourly updates on the Great Agave Shortage of 1999-oh, what dark days those were!), keep the cellar well stocked with toasters and toaster accessories, manage the activities of George the Mulderclone, and endure endless Hello Kitty tauntings, she manages to haul pounds and pounds of utterly foo-foo but delicious cheese products to Fest each year and simultaneously feed our porky little bellies and edjumacate us a little in the process.  She is one helluva nun.

So one lovely Friday night in May, some nuns convened for the Raleigh Scullython gathered to break bread at a charming Mexican restaurant.  There was chile con queso, soon dubbed Our Favorite Lipid.  There was the dashing waiter who kept confusing the size on Sister Lensie’s margarita order and would reappear with a fishbowl-sized drink and proclaim, “Yumbo!”  To which we would reply, “YUMBOOOO!” 

Somewhere amidst all the Yumbos, the topic of the annual Fest cheese bacchanal came up, and we soon arrived at the notion that as Sister Beer had the challenge of making her presentations in different locations this year, she should certainly have a court . . a posse . . an entourage . . a bit of human parsley to put around her lovely entrée, as it were.  Thus the Cheesebutantes were born.

And this is our story.

Saturday afternoon at Fest we arrived in the Jarlsberg (or whatever the hell it was) Room expecting to be merely introduced to our fawning masses of soon-to-be-fans, and were surprised with the news that there was to be a Pageant.  A Pageant!  I was immediately thrown into a tizzy.  Why, I would have to make up a speech on the fly.  And I wouldn’t have a chance to put together an accompanying PowerPoint presentation, darn all the luck.

Let me introduce you to my competit . . erm, my fellow ladies in fromage.

First, there was Taffy. Taffy was attired in a beautiful ivory gown made of the finest polyester Qiana ever produced in all of France.  Her dress was a simple sheath design overlaid with Alencon lace, also made of Qiana, with a shirring detail at the shoulders and a simple cord tie.  Her dress was offset by lovely macrame sandals atop stacked wooden platform heels.  You could see her bra straps but this didn’t seem to upset her any.  Her makeup was understated and featured lovely sparkly powder blue eyeshadow and the requisite spidery false lashes.  Taffy told me that she had been Miss Great Neck High School 1979, a contest she’d locked up by her amazing talent submission, playing You Light Up My Life on the spoons whilst tapdancing on a sheet of plywood affixed to the bed of her boyfriend Randy’s El Camino which he graciously drove into the gym whilst hooting her name.

Then there was Selma Jim.  Selma Jim wore a stunning hunter green dress made of the finest polyester taffeta available in all of Argentina.  It featured an Empire waist and a charming bow at the back.  You could tell that Selma Jim was from breeding, because she had on some very tasteful white opera gloves.  You could see her black bra straps but this didn’t seem to upset her any.  Her makeup featured the usual blue eyeshadow and false lashes, but her fair skin and shiny pinked lips made me think of none other than a young Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis-she had that much style.  I heard tell that Selma Jim goes to one of them fancy North Carolina girls’ boarding schools and is a distant relative of Mrs. Elizabeth Dole, the very paragon of Southern Republican womanhood.  (And by the way girls, I think Liddy is a great example of just what you can do with your life when there’s not much going on at home.)

Then there was me, Bernadette. I was named after the heroine of the movie The Song of Bernadette, starring Miss Jennifer Jones. I was even all excited about being an actual saint myself until I turned fourteen and Dub at the Bible Camp told me you had to be Catholic and celibate and even die for something. Then I asked him what celibate meant and had to smack him upside the head for being fresh. For my gown I chose a lovely royal blue polyester satin JC Penney “Your Special Day” catalog stock number 692934 with the lace overlay.  You could see my bra straps but this didn’t seem to upset me any. My dress was offset by lovely fuschia snakeskin pumps and Taffy and Selma Jim were kind enough to help with my makeup. Nothing says classy like some powder blue eyeshadow and false spidery lashes.

For Sister Beer we had brought a very tasteful robe made of purple panne velvet and constructed a scepter made of a French baguette painted gold and encrusted with the finest jewels and Mylar ribbon available at the craft shop.  Autumn and Paula chipped in with the infamous Cheese Fez, and our Cheddar Cutie was ready to rock and roll.  The Rogues provided their usual stern-faced and scary armed backup, a schedule was presented, and we started the Caravan of Cheese.

Sister Beer entranced the crowds, clutching their banners and scrambling for Carr’s wafers, with her stories and facts.  Most compelling was the tale of the ten sisters who inherited their father’s dairy only to find that the lumber mill that supplied them with the little paddle-spoons for the school ice cream and malt cups had tragically been blown up by the Australian military in a freak intercontinental ballistic missile accident and that they would have to close shop and send their beloved cows, with whom they had been raised, away.  As the girls were tearfully embracing Bossy, Bessy, and the rest before loading them into train cars marked with horrible destinations such as “Wendy’s,” “Benihana,” and “the Elmer’s factory,” Delaine, the oldest girl, cried out like a clarion, “CHEESE!” after she thought she heard it whispered to her by one of the cows.  It turned out the cow was just burping, but luckily it saved the day, and the girls started to make award-winning San Something-or-other cheese.

Our main function was to stand behind Sister Beer, make colorful comments relevant to her talk from time to time, and look pretty.  We succeeded on all three tasks.  By the time all eight stops were over, us Cheesebutantes had nearly perfected our mincing.  Rogue Janelle, yellow rose of Texas that she is, had provided us with the mantra, “fingers, fingers, wrist, wrist, elbow, elbow, kiss, kiss,” and we tried to repeat that even as our heels were getting stuck between the boards in the catwalks.  We also had no idea how hellaciously unladylike hot we were going to get flouncing around in all that polyester, so somebody had the good sense to provide us with frosty beverages.

We were utterly horrified, however, when we started into what we thought was the Captain’s Quarters and paraded into this perfectly nice lady’s living room.  She passed the message onto us later in the day that her young sons sure did think we were purty.  The little dears.

After the eight stops, we took a break in the Go-Go Suite to have some water, Tootsie Rolls, licorice whips, and freshen up our outfits for the Pageant.  We were all terribly excited.  We were all formulating strategies.  We were all giving each other hateful, unsisterly looks.

The Rogues led us back to the Jagermeister Room where the screaming, rennet-thirsty Cheese Throng was assembled.  We sang a chorus of What a Friend We Have In Cheeses and were each asked to talk about our plans if we were chosen to be Cheese Princess. Selma Jim talked about her lifelong desire to bring peace to the war-torn peoples of Kosovo and Arkansas.  (She could surely be a world leader like her great-aunt Liddy if she wanted.)  I talked about the heartbreak of lactose intolerance. Taffy reminded the crowd of me and Selma Jim’s previous careers in, well, art films.  Then the big moment arrived.

We clutched each other’s hands in a not altogetherly supportive way, as the first envelope was opened.  Taffy was crowned Miss Concheesiality.  Selma Jim was crowned. And I was thrilled to become the first and last ever Cheese Princess.  Oh, the glory. The prizes. The lovely foam swiss-cheese crown.

A mere six weeks later, I myself have not yet fully recovered from the experience. However, the cute Mexican place where the idea was born? It is no longer. Coincidence? I wonder.

July 3, 2001
The News & Observer 

Fire Damage Closes Mexican Restaurant

From Staff Reports 

Raleigh -- A malfunctioning beer cooler caused a late-night fire that damaged the El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant near N.C. State University, officials said. The blaze occurred around 11:15 p.m. Sunday, about an hour after employees left the building at 2400 Hillsborough St., said Battalion Chief Rusty Styons of the Raleigh Fire Department. There were no injuries but the fire caused between $50,000 and $75,000 in structural damage. The fire began when a compressor malfunctioned and overheated in the cooler, which was located at the back of the dining room, Styons said.

Where's Scully When You Need Her?

By Michele aka Griot

Winter Park has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth with its snow capped mountains, sweet smelling pines, and pristine streams.  But a major drawback is the altitude.  At over 9,000 feet, Winter Park earns the theme of this year's fest - Got Oxygen?  Many of us at fest this year were plagued by altitude sickness.  If only we could counter it like those who live in the high Andes by chewing coca leaves (where 'getting high' has a whole new meaning).  But, alas, this medicinal drug was not available to us. And so our enjoyment of fest was diminished. In my case, the altitude actually compounded a little problem I developed on our way to fest.  This year, Sister Suzanna and I decided to do a road trip to fest.  Since food is an important part of the fest experience, we made sure we found a motel on the way that provided a "free continental breakfast."  We quickly learned why it was free.  (Note to self:  if it tastes bad, it probably is bad, despite the expiration date.  DO NOT EAT IT!)  By the time we arrived in Winter Park on Wednesday evening, I was feeling a bit peaked.

Sonya:  "Are you all right, Michele?" 
Me:  "I'll be fine as soon as I eat."

But I soon realized that this was not the case.  To avoid unpleasant details, let's just say that the Butt Genie would not have found me very accommodating. Poor Suzanna, who was stuck rooming with me, got as little sleep as I did on Wednesday night.  By Thursday morning, we had located some Imodium. Despite multiple doses, success was nominal. 

Here's where the altitude comes in.  To compensate for the lack of oxygen, one breathes faster.  When one breathes, one exhales moisture.  The faster you breathe, the more moisture you lose.  If you don't make up for the fluids you lose when breathing harder, dehydration becomes a concern. I'm sure Autumn will tell you how much Gatorade her beloved Broncos consume when playing in Mile High Stadium.   And I was losing fluids. 

Just before going down for registration at noon, Suzanna came to me and says, 'If you think you need to go, I've looked in the phone book and located 3 clinics in the area. But it's up to you if you think you need to go. Just let me know I'll take you. But it's your decision." I guess I was looking as bad as I felt. When Suzanna brought me my waiver to sign (since I obviously wasn't going to make registration), I told her I thought I'd better go to the clinic.

Soliciting the help of Sonya's hired escort, Andrew, in case I should collapse, Suzanna drove the half  mile to the 7 Mile Clinic, just up the road in the Winter Park Resort. She dropped us off at the door, then went in search of a parking place.  Soon, she returned concerned that the only place she could find was labeled 'Injured Skiers Only'. The lady at the reception desk, with a definite accent, assured her that today I was an 'injured skier.'

Despite the balmy weather, she apologized for how busy the clinic was.  Two people were waiting for another 'injured skier'.  We were directed to sit in the chairs.  Walking to the chairs, I noticed a room with a rather seedy looking bed, which was cordoned off with yellow tape. I was a bit fuzzy, but I think it said 'Danger', not 'Do Not Cross - Police'. In either case, after a wave of nausea sent me to the rest room, I decided I wasn't up to sitting in the chairs.  Would Scully be disappointed in me if I crossed that yellow tape? I wasn't faced with the decision, as I saw another bed in the corner when I walked into the room. I collapsed on the grungy bed, not telling Andrew and Suzanna where I was. Which brought the first incident in which Suzanna, worried, had to come looking for me. Yes, it's true. Scully forgive me, I ditched her. The receptionist soon came with a wheelchair and wheeled me back to the treatment room. She explained that the 'doctor' MJ would be with me in a moment. If the term refers to the most capable, she was right.  Nurse MJ arrived, efficiently took my history, symptoms and vitals, smiled and said the doctor would be with me shortly. Doctor Andy Arnold soon arrived.  My suspicions are that he had decided to retire to the mountains to get away from the stress of real medicine.  He came in, read the information that MJ had taken and began his own exam.

"So, where are you from?"
 "I'm from..."
"Jeez, be quiet.  You're making me deaf.  I'm trying to listen to your heart here.  These things make everything louder."

I waited until he completed his exam to answer anymore questions, despite his continued questioning. 

"I think you're right about the food poisoning. But just to be sure, we'll do some testing." This comment ensured that my 'lower digestive tract distress' was over. The pleasant and efficient MJ soon bounced in and hooked me up to an IV. She explained that I would have to have two liters and it would be awhile, but that my friends could come back and sit with me.  I told her to go out and tell them to go back to the party.  Come back for me in an hour or two. When they returned, they said that Dr. Sandy had heard of my dilemma and was going to come with them. But they couldn't find her.  As it had been decided that I needed an additional liter of fluids, I told them to go back to the party.

About half an hour later, the clinic was suddenly hopping.  You'd have thought that Scully had run in screaming, 'I'm a medical doctor.' The cause of the excitement? Dr. Sandy had arrived. She had stride in purposefully (not prancily) and apparently had no need to flash her credentials. You'd have thought I was someone important. MJ came in to explain everything to Dr. Sandy with urgency and intensity. Official notes were offered, but declined. Dr. Andy even showed up briefly to tell me I was doing fine now. (Since I had already heard him take his leave earlier, I think he was called back.)  Since I had gone to the bathroom a bit earlier, they decided I must be re-hydrated. I was told to stick to a B.R.A.T. diet, take it easy for a few days, and stay away from dairy. My heart dropped. What about the cheese tour? Sandy patted me and said, "We'll see how you're doing." 

Since they didn't take insurance, I was asked for my life savings, and released. Dr. Sandy did look over the notes and declared that, although the wrong terms were used, my treatment was appropriate. Reassured, I could now rest easy. Which I did the remainder of the night. My protector, Suzanna, held back the swarms of people who wanted to come check on me and say hi. Both of them. Dr. Sandy made sure I had her cell phone number in case I needed her, something she did a lot for altitude impaired festers this weekend.

By Friday morning, I was able to venture out and attend the remainder of the official fest activities. Others affected by the altitude were able to participate in varying degrees throughout fest. Although those of us who were not up to par may not have had the stamina to fest as hardily as the rest, I'm sure I can speak for all the afflicted in saying that the time we were able to spend in the company of our sibleren was still worth it all.

As Scully would say, I wouldn't change a day. Except for maybe the free continental breakfast. I could live without that. 

 FEST 2001
An Interpretive Poem

By Lilydale

We all came together
For a few fun-filled days
To talk about Scully
And soak in the high-altitude rays.

Winter Park was our hometown,
The Iron Horse our cool lair,
But the setting came second
To the people found there.

I don't mean to get soggy
Or drown you in schmoop,
But you've got to expect that
When discussing this group.

We had bitter Elders,
PIs dressed like mommy,
a real creaky cart,
but no freaking salami.

We had mountains of cheese,
a test of our skills at putt-putt,
more pie than seemed possible, and
Sphincter girls dancing for a butt.

We had a band by the water,
some beer with our foam,
a doll named ScuLlie, but
No cries to go home.

We got a new Elder
Who forbid the word minion.
A real stroke of genius
In my minnow opinion.

We heard cowbell songs,
Saw real cheesebutantes, and
heard more Britney Spears
than anyone wants.

We repeated that Chris Carter
Has feelings too,
and we porno-nurse kicked
a giant black shoe.

We saw table dancing,
an elephant's gestation, and
nuns synchronized swimming.
Now that's a vacation!

In all, Scully hardly got mentioned,
And we didn't sleep much.
But we enjoyed time with our friends,
And we'll all keep in touch.

That's what really matters.
I think you'll agree.
But if you do not,
Watch for a slap from Sparky.