Scene & Herd - Possum Queen Strut

and valet Ali G.

As an evangelical atheist, I typically spend my early Sunday afternoons reading an atheist holy book, usually the New York Times, while enjoying the atheist Eucharist (aka brunch). According to my faith, rustic sourdough bread and decaf soy latte transubstantiate into the flesh and blood of either Tim Robbins or Kylie Minogue, depending on what I did the night before.

Last Sunday, though, I went to church: the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Grant Park. The reason was the ninth annual 'Possum Queen Festival, which raised money for the church's Golden Age Center.

There were six candidates for the title of 'Possum Queen: four women, one man, and Blossom the 'Possum. Blossom is a cute and funny possum puppet who has competed in past festivals but still hasn't won. She confided that she's certain that the judges conspire against her. She also explained to me the pageant's voting procedure. Attendees could pay $1 for the right to vote for their favorite candidate. It's a bit confusing because in Atlanta, the candidate is usually the one who pays the voter.

After mingling, Blossom took the microphone and lead us in a 'Possum Call. It started with "'Possum one, 'possum all, let's all do the 'Possum Call," counting up until it reached "'Possum eight, 'possum nine, Stop! It's 'possum time!"

Then, just as it seemed that Blossom would finally win the title she seems a natural for, the event's emcee, Vince Tortorici, shocked the audience by disqualifying her for having appeared in a Playboy spread titled "Blossom in the Wild." He happened to have a copy.

At that point, things got a bit confusing. First, it looked to me that candidate Leslie was the winner. They called her name and crowned her. Then, with Leslie still wearing a crown, they gave another crown to candidate Gwen. Gwen also got the prestigious 'Possum Queen's cape. It's 'possum "fur" covered in tire tracks. A confusing, yet deeply rewarding event.

Take me to the river: If you drive up I-985 and turn off the main road right about where the pointy part of South Carolina is poking into Georgia, you'll find Tallulah Gorge. Two miles long and 1,000 feet deep, it's supposedly the deepest gorge in the Eastern United States.The reason for my visit was the Tallulah Gorge Aesthetic Release. Several times each year, those dam people - you know, the people who run the Tallulah River dam - increase the river's flow for the sake of viewers and paddlers (the next releases are in September and October). I don't know what there is to say about it here other than, "Wow, it was gorgeous."

If you go, be sure to check out the view from the amazing Tallulah Point Overlook gift shop. It's one of the best rural roadside gift shops ever. I'd have spent a fortune there if I had one to spend. The shop also features a display on Karl Wallenda, the man who walked a tightrope across the canyon in 1970.

On the way back into town, I stopped at the Atlanta Celtic Festival at Meehan's pub in Alpharetta. There was Irish step dancing, Irish music (the headliners were the Celtic rock band Young Dubliners), Irish food (the fish and chips were super), and classes. I'm a nerd, so I particularly enjoyed the classes. I sat in on half the Celtic language class ("Do ghearr mé mo bbéir" means "And I cut my finger") as well as a history of the Isle of Man, home of the tailless Manx cat. I learned that if you go to the Isle of Man, whatever you do, don't call them English or Irish, and don't, under any circumstances, say the word "Rat." It's bad luck.

March of Diners: Let's play Scene & Herd-style fill-in-the-blank.A weekend dinner at a great restaurant with lots of wine followed by a trip to a nice hotel serving free martinis is a great way to (BLANK) a baby.

Your fill-in-the-blank choices are: A) make B-) confuse C) misplace D) save.

Believe it or not, for the purposes of this week's column, the answer is actually D) save. Last Friday night was the 21st annual March of Dimes Dining Out to Save Babies event. I participated by dining at the Misto on Howell Mill. Seated next to me during dinner was a friendly man named Jerry Del Core. We'd never met, but it turned out that Jerry and I, like, totally have a lot in common. He's the Atlanta regional vice president of Clear Channel, the largest radio station chain in the country, while I've got "My 'Lanta," a podcast I record each week with my friend Phil.

Small world, eh? I'm sure Jerry would have loved it if I talked more about my podcast, but I refrained because I didn't want to bore everyone else at the table with all that industry talk.

After dinner, the gang headed to the Four Seasons for a party and silent auction. The biggest items in the auction were a week in an Italian villa and a pair of expensive watches on a table next to a resplendent Miss Georgia USA.

For the nonwealthy in the crowd, there were some less expensive auction items, including original art, dinners at fine local restaurants, pottery and, figure this one out, several pairs of Kathy Ireland-brand socks. One of the coolest things up for auction was the chance to hang out with Clark Howard during his radio show. No one bid on it, though. I suspect that if any of the party-goers were true Clark Howard fans, they'd be afraid to bid for fear that Clark would just chastise them for spending so much money.

Oh, and just to be clear, when I say that I "participated" in the event, that's actually just a polite synonym for "affably mooched off a generous friend." I didn't actually do anything charitable or generous that night, unless you count the $4 I tipped the valet at the Four Seasons because his accent reminded me of Borat from "Da Ali G Show." I usually only tip valets $2.


For more of Andisheh's adventures, visit Scene & Herd at www.andy2000.org.??

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