Ah, the music festival. Days of music in the sun, nights camping under the stars.

Of course, the brochures don’t include the sudden hailing thunderstorms or the party kids who stay up ’til dawn doing enough chemicals to make a pharmacist blush. And keep the rest of us up with them (can you detect a sore point)?

Michael has festivaled since college. I’m a newbie, and quickly discovering that while listening to a new band with the Catskills as the backdrop is blissful (seriously, it’s pretty amazing), I’m not sure the camping part is worth it. But one thing I’ve discovered is a definite Mars/Venus split.

The boys in our camping posse this weekend at Mountain Jam had gear. They had a set up. They had lanterns and extra tents and pop ups and grills and coolers and ice and tarps for the tents and the tent openings sent just so and the stakes staked just so. These men are professionals. This was clearly part of the joy, and cousin to the male gene that shops Home Depot and builds decks. This is not to denigrate their skill – they do an amazing job, and once the rains start (inevitable at Mountain Jam) there’s nothing better than hanging beneath a huge white circus tent with a cold Saranac Pomegranate Wheat (which, by the way, is kosher, which seems appropriate to point out in the Catskills) and dry jeans. If left to my own devises I would be soaked and sober. So there it is. I would say that the indubitable Amy Fischer falls into this category of the uber-prepared, but otherwise it’s definitely a guy-girl split.

But there is also a timeline, with much discussion of what band to see when, and very serious timetables to stick to.

Which leads to the use of “festival” as a prefix. There are literal personality changes. Friends who are laid-back most of the time are suddenly intense to the nth degree. Or the go-go girls just want to lay back and relax or socialize. So they become “Festival Michael,” or some such, for example, with very different results.

I think there’s a “Backpacker Anne” too, but she doesn’t usually come out unless there’s a passport involved.