Archived Story

Fair thoughts for a fair day

Published 10:18am Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Column: Tales From Exit 22

I crawled out from under a rock and headed to the fair.

I spend an inordinate amount of time at fairs.

I was working at the fair when a man stopped to say hello. He had a foot-long hot dog with all the fixings. He eats one a year. I understood. I eat one corn dog a year. I like corn dogs. I like corn dogs a lot. Eating only one makes me look forward to that feast each year. The fellow was effusive in his praise of the foot-long hot dog. I had never eaten one and succumbed easily to peer pressure. I have heard that it’s important to explore the depths of life, so it made sense that exploring the lengths of life would be important, too. After eating my first foot-long hot dog, I can honestly say that it was just like a regular hot dog only longer.

The big news was the birth of a child in the restroom near the cattle barn. I hope he wasn’t named John. I wonder if we’ve ever had a president who was born in a bathroom?

I’m the superintendent of the Conservation Building at the fair, which doubles as the Conversation Building. There are stuffed and mounted critters in the building — a territory marked by taxidermy. The snowy owl popped an eye out. I think it happened when the owl heard of the birth of the child near the cattle barn. I tried putting the owl eye back, but it refused to remain in place. I folded some cellophane tape, affixed it to the back of the eye, but it didn’t work. I searched for glue in the junk drawers of my house. I found wood glue and paper glue. I don’t own plastic glue or that which is supposed to work on porcelain. When I break such things, I confess it to my wife and throw the object away. It saves me the frustration of having to glue it repeatedly. I searched everywhere for eyeball glue before choosing the wood glue. I glued the eye back in place and it stayed. Peachy keen! The snowy owl still couldn’t see, but it looked better.

I wondered if an Olympic athlete had walked by me at the fair, if I would recognize him or her. I tried to imagine what event the people who strolled by would be in.

The temperatures were high enough that I was sweating like one of my wife’s relatives on rent day. I felt like a baby chick under a heat lamp. The hot weather siphoned my energy as a gasoline thief does a car’s. Everyone at the fair became a big fan of fans. Heat causes people to lose any concept of time as I heard folks say, “I’ve been at this fair forever.”

The heat index gives the “feels-like temperature.” I think it makes people cranky. We know that it’s hot and uncomfortable without being reminded. The heat index is issued by the National Weather Service and tells what the temperature seems to be when the humidity is factored in. It’s the wind chill factor of summer. A high humidity makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate, which impedes the cooling effect of perspiration.

Unwanted music forced its way into my ears. I was a reluctant audience. Researchers claim that 80 percent of unwanted noise emanates from the same source — whatever kind of music a person detests. I read a report that said one in three adults has hearing loss. A friend came to the fair to listen to his grandson’s band play. The band played loud enough that the grandpa made it through only one song. He explained his desertion by claiming to have only one good ear and not wanting to ruin it.

I was about to walk away from the earsplitting music. Most music has become too loud for the likes of me. It’s music for younger people. I’m not supposed to enjoy it. It’s only fair. My parents didn’t cotton to my music.

Then a band played “The Tennessee Waltz.” I liked it. I find one of the best things about music is the memories it produces. Back when my family drove a hump of a car, my father sang, “I was waltzing with my darlin’ to the Tennessee Waltz” as we milked the cows.

I left the fair at the same time as I arrived when I listened to loud music.

It was time to go. I’d heard the echoes of the past.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.