You wake again to the stench of sun-tormented nylon and a sickly warm open can of Hackenberg, the only survivor of last night’s frenzied brain raid, the one whose fortune came when your consciousness dwindled. You stare up at the beads of warm rain rolling down the sides of your tent and take a moment to take stock of your motley crew of emotions. Fear, embarrassment, disgust, the flicker of arousal, all of the old enemies who have come to be friends in your mid-twenties are present and accounted for, though there is someone new as well. It lives somewhere between your throat and your chest, and it seems to choke you ever so slightly, a gentler kind of persecution that suggests a close relative of shame. Ah yes, good morning, guilt. You feel guilt under your skin, you see it in the zonked-out eyes of the bucket hat guy shuffling outside of your tent, and you see it in a thick glaze all over the fold-out chair you stole only hours ago. Your face finds your cupped hands, and it dawns on you suddenly what it is that you’ve done.
Music festivals are ripe with scoundrels and fiends, this is one of those undeniable facts of life that many send to the back of their minds in the hope of clinging to good vibes and good craic. Even you chose to ignore the potential evils that can occur here, that is, until you unwittingly became ally to that evil. You’ve inverted the craic, you have become an agent of un-craic. You’ve intruded on the craic of some poor unfortunate and all for the sake of a few moments arse comfort. Was it worth it?
There are differences between you and the routine festival arsehole though, ones that you may be uncomfortable in addressing. The festival thief may go after money, enough so they can afford baubles and trinkets for their own merrymaking and monkeyshines. But you, your kind of theft is soaked in a nihilism that strips the crime of any meaningful payoff. Where even the worst of festival scoundrels are motivated by needs and wants of heart and mind, yours was enlivened by the oblivious will of arse. You wanted to sit down comfortably with your cans before hopping back into that pop-up lair of hate, and it didn’t matter who had to go without. It was their arse or yours.
But, again, there is another difference between you and these anarchists. You are visited by guilt. You understand that your actions have created consequences for an innocent face you can’t quite remember, you know the error of your ways. But guilt is only the first step in your absolution, the universe demands action, and you have two options before you.
The first and most obvious move is to locate your victim and return their fold-out chair, apologize, and perhaps even share a can with them, for aren’t all festival dilemmas ultimately washed away by the cleansing foam of can? The average festival goer may look like a post-apocalyptic scavenger full of horse medicine, but we are adept at conflict resolution and the burying of hatchets.
But what if you can’t find them? How can you beg forgiveness of a faceless, nameless victim? The remedy to this may upset you, but it will not shock you. Unless you’ve never read a festival survival guide in your life, you surely know that it is always suggested that you pack a multi-tailed whip for ritualistic atonement. In the event that you have wronged someone you cannot immediately apologize to, the act of public self-flagellation is the only way forward. So tear the flesh from your back, let the whip sing songs of remorse, and know that stealing fold-out chairs is literally the worst thing you can do, you shite hawk.