Friday, August 19, 2016

Fair Fair, Everything Will be Alright

I've been sick for about a week and a half now. So far, my family members haven't caught whatever I have but if they do, I will be sure to extend to them every bit as much helpfulness as they've shared with me during my illness. It never fails to amaze me how someone could watch me horking up a lung and drowning in my own mucus and still say, "Sooooo, what's for dinner?" 

Having the plague didn't keep me from going to the state fair and then the county fair, though. No sirree! Summer's not over yet!  We went to the state fair last Saturday.  We seem to do the same stuff at the fair every year, but it's still fun. I'm not sure if my husband truly enjoys it though. Crowds make him really uncomfortable. I mean, of course the state fair is crowded because, um, the whole state is invited. Maybe just the kid and I should go next year.

After so many years of attending, we have the parking situation down to a science. If we get there early, we can park in a nearby neighborhood at no charge. We grabbed a spot on the street and started walking in the direction of the fairgrounds. A woman was selling parking spaces in the alley behind her house.  "I hope you brought rain jackets," she said to us. She pointed at some clouds off in the distance. "We're gonna get nailed."  What was her point, exactly?  Did she want us to turn around and drive two hours back home? Was she annoyed that we'd parked for free instead of paying to park on her property?

"Okay, thank you," I responded, and gave her a weak smile. I'd already checked the weather forecast and the chance of rain was exceedingly low.

She turned to the man standing next to her, "Thank you?" Why would she say that?"

We kept walking. I said it to be polite because I don't like small talk and just wanted it to end.

We entered the fairgrounds and worked out a vague game plan as far as where to head first.  I did some shopping at the big vendor expo and then worked on finding some food. Eating at the state fair is always a challenge. I ended up getting some falafel (and was pretty darned happy to get my hands on that when you consider the other choices at the fair). We also let the kid ride some rides. I rode one of them with her, but rides at the state fair are pricey so we didn't want to get too crazy.

By mid-afternoon, it was hot and we decided we'd reached Maximum Fair. As we walked back to our car, I was really tempted to say something to the "we're gonna get nailed" lady, who was still trying to get hapless fair-goers to park in her yard. You know, something like "I can't help but notice that it never rained," but decided against it.

We went to our hotel and hung out for a while. At first I thought the hotel had made a mistake and gave us a room with only one bed.  Then I noticed that the room was more like a two-bedroom dealio. There was a separate kids' room with bunk beds - and, most importantly, its own TV. The kid was thrilled and so were we.  We didn't have to suffer through tween shows!

The next morning, we went to a local restaurant that has vegan stuff on the menu. I had pancakes that made all of my dreams come true. It's the little things, you know.

So, that was our first fair of the week.  The second came on Thursday, when I took the kid to the county fair after work (her dad had to work that evening).  The county fair is small but it's a good deal - admission includes parking and all of the rides. I rode the ferris wheel with her, but I was not down with the other rides.  Fortunately, a co-worker happened to be there and agreed to ride a couple of rides with her.  There was one ride that only admitted riders in pairs. This co-worker is also our HR person and does payroll. I was a tiny bit worried that I wouldn't see my next paycheck after she got done spinning on the Tilt-a-Whirl with my child.

We needed to get home and pack for our upcoming vacation, but her highness wanted to play a game first.  The midway games always scare me because I'm not great with math and I get nervous that I'll accidentally sign over my 401K or something.  I mean, they hand you a "free" ball or dart and the next thing you know, you owe them nine million dollars because you didn't pay close enough attention to the schpiel.

Sure enough, my kid soon had a "free" dart in her hand.  She shot the dart and connected with the wall as required.  (This wasn't the balloon one - it was just a wall with targets on it.)  The dude told me that she could have three darts for $5.00. Okay, I handed over a ten and waited for my change, which took an excruciatingly long time. A shot three darts and hit the wall all three times.  She qualified for a very small sock monkey, which seemed fine.  Then he handed me a dart and told me I could have a freebie, too. He said if I hit three, she could get the next size up. My kid seemed excited, so I didn't want to let her down. From what I could gather from the fast-talking huckster, I was going to need to hand over another five dollars.

I need to pause for a moment here and advise you that I do not know how to shoot darts. We have an electronic dartboard in our basement so it's not like I don't have an opportunity to learn - if I wanted to. My husband was even in a dart league for a while (yes, this is a thing).  See, where I grew up (in the 'burbs of DC), if you went out to drink, there wasn't an obligation to pursue other hobbies at the same time. Where I live now, people aren't content just to sit around and have a couple of drinks. They feel compelled to shoot darts or to shake dice with the bartender.  My husband has tried to teach me how to throw a dart properly.  These exchanges usually start with him saying, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO COCK YOUR WHOLE ARM, CLAUDIA" and end with me threatening bodily harm. You don't even want to know what happens when I attempt to throw a frisbee.

So, back to the fair.  I held the dart in my hand, cocked my whole arm back, and promptly flung the dart into a box of stuffed animals at the base of the wall. That's right, I didn't even hit the wall.  Undeterred, the dude told me that that one didn't count and handed me another dart. Miraculously, I hit the wall three times with three darts in a row. He handed me a fourth dart and told me that if I got this one, we could move up to the large prize for just $15.00.  I told him we were done and handed him the other five I'd received as change earlier.  I could see that I'd let him down by not throwing that extra dart, but I am sure he managed to extract it from the next passerby.  My daughter selected her prize: a small emoji pillow.  So, there you have it.  Ten bucks for a fifty-cent toy.

Later that evening, Grover tried to chew that cheap-ass toy and the kid just about lost her mind over it.  If he wants a carnival toy, he's going to have to save up and shoot those darts on his own. This ain't no free ride.

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