Redhead Days Chicago, the first incarnation, took place this weekend. Redhead Days Chicago is a misnomer, because the event actually takes place in Highwood, IL. Despite it being a suburb, those of us who deal with the commute know that in the same amount of time we could get to Highwood, we could also fly to the East Coast.
With that in mind, I debated whether or not I really wanted to attend. The event details primarily seemed to be on a Facebook page which linked only to the website for its parent event: the original Redhead Days in the Netherlands. Also, I couldn't quite figure out WHAT was going to BE at the festival for me to interact with/take part in. I knew there would be a carrot cake competition (but as a typical sensitive redhead, I have too many food allergies to have been able to partake in taste testing) and a group photo (which I missed due to traffic). And beer. This is Chicago, afterall.
But, after numerous friends and co-workers nearly prodded me with a metal pole, I decided to go to appease them. And while my initial inclination that there wouldn't be much there worth traveling two hours roundtrip for was right, the conversations I overheard were absolutely fascinating. Every single conversation I eavesdropped on was about the trials and tribulations of having red hair. Here's a glimpse:
"I spent all my life getting knocked down for having red hair so I figured I should come.""A daywalker is a person who can actually go outside in public without..."
"You can tell how much blonde you have in your hair compared to all of these actual redheads..."
"Are they going to let me in since I don't have that much hair anymore?"
"Look at the cute ginger baby!"
"Well at least I have the curly part down." (said by a brunette)
"You have the Maureen O'Hara look going on." (Said to me! What a huge compliment.)
"It's like a family reunion."
"Ginger oh ginger!" (Elderly redheaded guy on his way out of the festival to me. We had a good chat. At first I was shocked he'd call me that, but then I remembered only a ginger can call another ginger a ginger.)
Interestingly, I felt odd being there.
It felt like I was looking at myself every time I looked at someone else.
I'd say the majority of redheads there had curly hair. Weirdly enough, I always like to go on and on about how redheads can't fit in with the mainstream (Lincoln Parkish) and then they often become alternative (Logan Squarish), but on average, most people were just normal everyday people (Lincoln Squarish). I did see a group of 3 sorority sisters who all have red hair. What are the odds of that? And I saw a few tatted up ladies. And one very tall man with curly red hair down to his waist: a striking figure. Also odd: on an average daily basis, I get stared at quite a bit. I usually assume it's because of my hair -- every once in a while, someone will stare lingeringly at me until I start wondering if I should type 9-1-1 into my phone so I can just press the call button instead of wasting time dialing when I really need to.. But then, they inevitably come up to me, apologize for staring and say, "It's just that my granddaughter had red hair just like yours..." And I"m left to wonder what exactly the past tense "had" means. So I excepted, at a festival of people who looked quite a lot like me, that I would not be stared at so much. But in fact, the opposite was true. EVERYONE stared at each other. It was comical or creepy or both. I can't decide. We'd make eye contact and smile at each other, the way we do on the street when we see one of our own. We all have that feeling of knowing, that innate deep secret which only ginger gods/godesses hold.
As far as actual stuff at the festival: on Sunday afternoon when I attended, you could buy a T-shirt or bumper stickers, buy fire-hued popcorn, buy the book "Red: A History of the Redhead" and get it signed by the author (which I did) and buy eats and drinks. So really not TOO much going on. But I was shocked by the number of people who decided to support their ginger friends, and especially, their kids, by bringing them to this festival. I was awed by the family of 4 or 5 who were entirely brunette with the exception of their red-haired baby who came. Also, one (brown-haired) guy wore a sign encouraging everyone to visit tolerance.org to stop bullying of redheaded (and other) children.
Some of my co-workers thought it could be a good place for ginger philes to meet redheads, or for redheads to meet other redheads and make ginger babies together. I concur; a lot of cute redheaded men attended. But, I've never eye fucked another ginger before, so I got really nervous and started wondering if they knew all my secrets and were anti-redhead-on-redhead dating.
Did you go? What were your thoughts? I hope next year will be even better!
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