It’s Sunday. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” (Genesis 2:2).
Unfortunately, there is no rest for the wicked or for mothers who begat Irish dancers.
Sunday means Feis Day!
After extricating her daughter, Bridget, from bed with a large garden tool, Marcie and nine hundred other bleary-eyed Feis Moms are on the road again, this time converging on “Our Lady of Perpetual Motion High School” for yet another Feis.
Each mom had the same worrisome thought in mind: “Did I pack her hard shoes this time?”
Getting dancers to a Feis on time is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. Getting dancers there and back with all their stuff is, well, rather miraculous.
The logistics of preparing for and attending a Feis can be rather overwhelming unless one remembers the “Three P’s” of Feis management:
Planning: Things you do at home before the Feis.
Packing: Knowing what to bring.
Pillaging: Ok, for the life of me I can’t remember what that last “P” was but I think you get my drift.
As a category-four Feis Mom, Marcie did her homework well. In the “Planning” and “Packing” phases she discovered that coolers, along with outside food and beverages, were strictly prohibited at this Feis and packed accordingly prompting Bridget to ask, “Mommy, why are you putting ice and Gatorade in my Feis bucket?”
The indispensable Feis bucket.
There was a Feis Mom from Nantucket
With a magical well-stocked Feis bucket
Said she, “At a Feis,
I’m never distressed
If I need something I just buy it from the vendors!”
A Feis bucket, for the uninitiated, is an empty five-gallon container typically used either in construction or in the restaurant business to hold drywall joint compound or bulk guacamole (available free from your local construction site or Tex-Mex restaurant dumpsters).Slap a little paint on the outside, glue a piece of foam on the lid and you’re gleefully shelling out fifty dollars to a Feis vendor for the ultimate gadget in Feis-gear-hauling and Irish-dancer-butt sitting.
Now back to the Feis.
Marcie’s first task on entering the building is to quickly establish a semi-permanent “base camp” from which she and her daughter will make forays throughout the day. One need only recall movies depicting the Oklahoma Land Rush to get a feel for what this activity involves when competing with eight hundred ninety-nine other Feis moms for that perfect piece of Feis real estate.
Location is the key. Marcie hunts for an area with quick access to the competition, food-concessions, and restrooms but in a nice upscale neighborhood with good schools.
She also has to properly stake out her claim in a manner that asserts her rights to her selected camp site with a clear and unequivocal warning to latecomers, “This is mine!” Marking her area with urine, although effective, is now frowned upon at most Feiseanna. One accepted practice is the use of chairs, a picnic blanket, or younger siblings to define the perimeter.
This area is called a Feis Camp.
But only for a few minutes while her daughter is off wandering and reconnecting with long lost Feis buddies.
The previous evening Marcie spent nearly an hour carefully layering all Bridget’s Feis necessities inside the Feis Bucket in the chronological sequence which they would be retrieved; makeup, wig, hair tackle, ghillies, bloomers, sock-glue and hard shoes.
Three minutes before scheduled on stage, Bridget is back, frantically tearing through the bucket’s contents howling, “My poodle socks! WHERE ARE MY POODLE SOCKS?”
While Marcie is off chasing down a pair at the vendors Bridget continues her devastation and destruction, frenetically tearing off her clothes (mind you this is a public place) and applying her makeup while emptying the contents of the bucket on the floor for easier access.
This area is no longer a Feis Camp. It is now officially a Feis Pile.
Like many dancers at a Feis, Bridget prefers the “pile” system of storing and sorting her Feis paraphernalia and the consequent “digging” method for extracting items from the pile. One draw-back of this approach is the constant infusion of cash required to supplement items that somehow become permanently lost in the pile, or possibly migrate to other piles.
Marcie and Bridget are not alone.
Like a colony of sea birds, from all around the gymnasium come the squawks and cries of dancers and parents as Feis Camp after Feis Camp deteriorates into pandemonium. Whether gravitational attraction or a severe case of static cling, Feis Piles wax and wane throughout the day. Their contents intermingle creating a scene that hauntingly resembles the debris field of the Titanic.
Marcie must now make a tactical decision. Should she stay with the remnants of her Feis Camp and attempt to maintain some semblance of order? Or should she abandon her holdings to the inevitable chaos and mingle with the other Feis Moms?
She knows that eventually the contents of each pile will be recovered, shoved unceremoniously back into Feis buckets, and transported back home, albeit maybe not to their original abodes.
And later that evening, she’ll join the online scavenger hunt/swap meet looking for missing items of the day via email and message boards.
Without glancing back, Marcie walks away… preferring the mingling over the mayhem.