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The Carnival

I took my daughter and her friend to a local carnival this weekend. They’re old enough that they don’t need a tail, so I just settled down in the shade to do some old-fashioned people watching.

It’s one of those slightly seedy carnivals where all the workers look to be either out on parole or hiding from assorted government agencies. It’s got a beer tent and food so greasy you can practically suck it into your mouth with a straw. It’s got your standard rides. Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-Round and the Flying Swings and some of the others that always made me throw up when I was a kid. I think there’s a hall of mirrors and one of those big slides where you sit in burlap sacks to go down and if the sack manages to bunch up and your skin touches the slide itself you get third degree burns. Lots of those games that promise “everybody’s a winner” and pass out stuffed animals and goldfish in 6 oz plastic cups. I’ve never seen so many goldfish. Worst thing that can happen to a Mom and Dad is to grab Jr. and head out into the 90 degree heat, finally find a parking spot about a half-mile away, and then 5 minutes after arriving Jr. “wins” a goldfish and Dad gets stuck carrying around a terminally ill fish for the next 3 hours.

Anyway, as I was saying. I found a good spot and pulled out my trusty pocket notebook to catalog what I was seeing (Later I was told I looked like a narc).

There’s no real politically correct way to say there are lots of fat people at carnivals, so I’ll just say it. There are lots of fat people at carnivals. My eyes were overdosing on bulging skin. I realize that somebody who weighs 300 pounds would rather weigh 150 pounds, but that’s no reason to wear 150 pound people clothes. It’s not so much the girth as the willingness to accentuate every crack and crevice that does me in.

So I went on looking for things more pleasant. Pretty girls to be more precise. There were lots of them, but they all seemed so young, which made me feel creepy. The ones my age who weren’t making the ground rumble with every step all seemed to have those fake tans that make the skin look like something just peeled off a snake. I was beginning to get a wee bit depressed.

Then I met an old friend who was so stoned on something that she had lost the ability to speak complete sentences. My comprehension was dealt another blow when she choose to not stop eating the massive hamburger she was carrying around like airport luggage. She kept dropping crumbs on my shirt and saying something about the heat and how she didn’t want to be there and then as quickly as she ambled over she was gone. I did a quick check to make sure she didn’t fall on anybody and thought how lucky I was that as a kid I said no to drugs at least when people I knew and who I could dribble food particles on were around.

She didn’t look that out of place actually. The night before some guy was stabbed in the beer tent, so the place is not exactly Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. But I always felt strangely serene when bikers were around, and they were here in droves. Not sure what it is about summer carnivals that draws them in, but the place looked like a warm and fuzzy version of Altamont. The band was even playing a slightly out-of-tune version of “Brown Sugar” to complete the image. My daughter kept sending me text messages from the top of the Ferris Wheel saying how she could see me and how much of a weirdo I looked like writing in a little notebook and, oh yea, could she have more money?

I gave her $5 so she could buy a 32 oz cup of lemonade with enough sugar to keep her wide awake for 2 full days. It was a good deal though. You could get refills for $3.

I felt like an excellent parent, which I am.

The time really flew by. We were there 3 good hours. I wrote and I watched and I contemplated mortality and I witnessed my kid have a good time and I ate some sort of sticky dough covered with at least a pound of powdered sugar, chased down with a diet soda of course. Nobody got stabbed and the rain clouds overhead quickly dissipated and I did not have to hold a goldfish. When we left I had the perfect excuse to not take them shopping. They’d spent all my money. We came home and I took a nap.

It was a good day.

I’m much better at being an observer than a participant.

In a bit…


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. eddie
    May 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Reminds me of the 10cc song… The Things We Do For Love… I always hated those carnival atmospheres, but there is something to it that is exciting for the kids.. I vaguely remember loving it when I was young. Gawking at the girls, etc. Then when I got old and married it was kinda cool watching my little girls while they rode the rides.. as my eyes were on the beer tent, hoping to catch some live music and a 6.00 pitcher of beer… Something for everybody ?

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