The day has come when I try to be admitted into the noble brotherhood of E Clampus Vitus! Read all about them here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_Clampus_Vitus
There is an all day initiation ceremony on Saturday the details of which are kept secret beforehand. On Friday afternoon, Bebo, Ron and I show up at the meadow in the hills above Half Moon Bay where the ceremonial will take place . Wonderful place overlooking the Pacific, however sea mist invades the campsite for most of the time we are there.
I am a PBC, Poor Blind Candidate and as such am treated with disdain by those who have earned the right to wear red. We get straight to it. I mean eating and drinking. I am given humiliating fetch and carry jobs and then set to opening hundreds of oysters.
There are about 50-60 of us camped out on the meadow. Dinner is oysters, pork chops and beans.
No one drinks wine but lash down quantities of spirits with various mixers.
We sit up drinking and talking late into the night. Remarkably I have drunk no alcohol for over a week due to extreme jet lag and dysentery. However I soon find my feet again. I crawl into the camper the worse for wear.
I am immediately enlisted to cook breakfast.
After breakfast we started the initiation tests. There are strict rules. We cannot look at our instructors and have to keep our eyes on the ground. It being Fall and Half Moon Bay being a center of pumpkinoculture, a lot of the exercises are based on pumpkin stuff. There is very strict supervision to make sure we do not spill seed on the ground.
We have two history lessons. The first is by the owner of the property, also a Clamper, who gives fascinating talk on the early days of Half Moon Bay.
Then the Emperor Norton himself, head of the Mother Lodge Yerba Buena #1 Capitulus Redivivus, hopefully my chapter to be, takes over and provides a detailed history of E Clampus Vitus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Norton
Here is a picture of the Emperor in everyday clothes.
We have to learn history. We have to learn several songs and Clamper sign language. We play bowling using pumpkins as bowling balls. This results in much spilt seed and fury from our invigilators. Each seed has to be picked up with all pumpkin interior sludge and dropped inside the costume of a mysterious character called The Frog.
We break for lunch.
Training completed, we are blindfolded and led in single file, each holding the shoulder of the man in front, into the ceremonial hall. We have to chant Clamper songs as we go and are derided by the 50 or so Clampers who are watching.
The final induction ceremony must remain a mystery, but it involves a ancient staff!
I make it! I am admitted! What an honor for a poor boy from Scotland!
Thanks E Clampus Vitus for accepting me, a foreigner, into your ranks. Such fun, with a refreshing rejection of healthy living!
There is an onslaught of heavy drinking after the ceremonial and dinner to come. I have to get back to the city that night and so do not join. One thing that Japan has taught me is Do not Drink and Drive.