Well, that sounded like cause for celebration!
So I told the group that whoever wanted to should meet me at the Redlight at eight on Wednesday night.
It wasn’t a large gathering, but it was a good one. The bartender set a drink special for us, named the “tortilla bomb,” which was hilarious and I have to say, utterly perfect. It was a tortilla chip, a shot of tequila, and a glass of Tecate and lemonade. You ate the chip, and then dropped the shot into the glass and drank it down. It was mighty, it was just weird enough to be fun to make other people drink, and it was delicious. I got to watch the bartender, Dan, try to describe the Society and the drink to people, and I even heard a couple of guys outside the bar daring one another to try the tortilla drink.
We had tortilla themed name tags, consisting of small pieces of cardboard in snack-sized zip top bags with our names and optional titles written on them in black marker and then safety pinned to our shirts.
Around ten thirty or eleven that evening, when we were all hanging out, we decided to scoot two tables together so that we could all sit in the same area. We shifted some chairs around, and when we moved one of the tables over adjacent to the other, one of our members bent over and picked something up.
Someone said, “There’s a tortilla under the table!” We all put our heads together and passed around this cryptic corn-based message, and while we were looking at this one, other people in the bar started finding tortillas under their tables…
This resulted in my having to go around looking under tables, and saying the following to unsuspecting bar patrons who had found tortillas:
“Hello, my name is Allison, and I’m the founder of the Bellingham Mystery Tortilla Appreciation Society. I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve found a mysterious tortilla… would you mind if I grabbed a photo?”
The tortillas seemed to come from every corner of the bar. We got to talk to people about the tortillas, and about the Society, about our mission, and about the Facebook page. I think we may have even gotten a few new members as a result, which, of course, I love. There was a lot of, no, we don’t hang the tortillas. No, we don’t know where they come from.
All in all, we got a total of seven tortillas out of the bar… and it’s not a huge bar. The messages were pretty specifically directed at us, with messages about what goals need to be accomplished for us to receive more revelations, and other cryptic bits of (mis)information. The tortillas weren’t taped to anything, although they all had packing tape stuck to them. They were lying on the floor under the tables, all around the bar, spread out so that no matter where our party ended up sitting, we would be sure to see them.
I wish I could explain to you the thrill, the slight impression of being watched, the feeling of electricity over the skin, that was caused by the fact that the person responsible for the Mystery Tortillas watched the Facebook group closely enough to know what bar we’d be at when, that they left tortillas very specifically with the intention of us finding them. I felt a tingle at the back of my neck, after we’d found the first one and the others started to come out of the woodwork.
Not a creepy tingle. And excited, collaborative tingle. The feeling that you get when you’re playing a game, and you’re trying to guess the other player’s next move, and sometimes you feel like you’re barely even keeping up, but you’re sure enjoying the chase.
We grilled Dan, one of our members, since he worked at the bar. He insisted that he hadn’t seen anyone acting strangely, and said he would’ve noticed because he has to keep an eye out for folks who might be underage. We puzzled over the tortillas (and several cocktails) for a while, and eventually broke up and went our separate ways for the evening.
Thursday morning, four more tortillas were found, outdoors, in the vicinity of the bar.
This is going to sound strange, so I’m going to preface it by saying that I understand that the tortillas aren’t directed at me in any sense other than that I started the Facebook group, and some of them are in fact directed at the group; but this whole project seems like it was designed to enchant me. Everything about it. The fact that they’re tortillas, the messages themselves, the way they’re hung, the fact that they’re all downtown at a bunch of my favorite places…
I know all of this has to end somewhere, otherwise it will eventually become old and tired, even for me. So I won’t say that I hope it doesn’t stop, because all old rock and rollers must quit, or become dull and self-referential, and I think art projects are no different. Honestly, based on the messages that we received on Wednesday night, it does look as though the person responsible is considering winding the whole thing down. I will say, though, that I hope it continues to be as much fun as it has been so far.
I guess I’ll see y’all at two hundred tortillas!