Fare thee well, fair fairgoer on a fine day

Published 10:14 am Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Column: Tales From Exit 22, by Al Batt

Fair time is a time to park in the shade.

Unfortunately, it comes at the time of the year when shade is rarer than the smell of mosquito spray in January.

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The fair could be called The Experience Humidity Expo.

People ask me how I like the hot weather. I tell them that I wish it would warm up a bit. I don’t mean that, but I have no power over the weather, so it doesn’t matter. I might as well enjoy what I’m given.

Besides, we are occasionally given a fair day so beautiful that I have to sit on my hands to keep from applauding. Such days are just as good as sneaking into a free fair. The fair gives us the opportunity to share a good day and keep the bad days to ourselves.

Any day without excessive heat, horrendous humidity or pouring rain is gravy.

I should add that a day of excessive heat, horrendous humidity or pouring rain is gravy. Such weather gives a person the chance to make his or her own gravy.

Food-on-a-stick addicts swarm. If you can put it on a stick, someone will eat it. Deep fried butter on-a-stick proves that. Competitive eaters that put Joey Chestnut to shame, graze the fairgrounds.

The man walked the fairgrounds with his badly behaved 3-year-old grandson. Adults are good at telling kids to behave. They don’t need to be told. Children always behave. Sometimes it’s bad behavior and sometimes it’s good behavior. The man had his hands full, with the child screaming for whatever kind of food was being offered at a stand they walked past. They were courted by food vendors of cheese curds, mini-doughnuts, cotton candy and corn dogs. The boy tried to take candy from a baby and ended up with cotton candy in his hair.

The grandfather was working through it, saying in a controlled voice, “Easy, Edward, we won’t be long. Just stay calm.”

The boy threw an epic tantrum in the hopes of obtaining a toy helicopter that actually flew. Another outburst came on behalf of a campaign to become owner of a black lab puppy.

His grandfather said, “It’s OK, Edward, just a couple more minutes and we’ll be out of here. Hang in there, boy.”

He told his grandson a joke, hoping that would soften the tension. “If you were surrounded by 10 lions, five tigers, three grizzly bears and four leopards, how would you escape?”

The lad didn’t know the answer, which was “Wait until the merry-go-round stops and get off.”

Neither man nor boy laughed, but the boy screamed his desire to go on a ride.

In an area abounding with deafening music, some of which wasn’t as bad as it sounded, the man couldn’t find any loud enough to drown out his grandson’s constant demands and complaints.

“Be happy, Edward,” said the man reassuringly. “This is the fair. You’re supposed to have a good time.”

The man didn’t want to take the boy down the Midway. The thought of walking by rides named “Call Your Lawyer” and “The Creeping Wedgie” sent a shudder running up and down his spine. Those rides could cause laundry-inducing moments. He’d taken the boy on one of the rides the day before. Actually, the man had gone on two rides, his first and his last. He never trusted those things. He hadn’t since the day he overheard his mother tell her sister, “Those Midway rides are like men. Even the best ones will make you sick.”

The man thought the ring toss stand would be a better choice. The object of the game is to toss a ring over the neck of one of many glass bottles lined up side-by-side. Winners get a big bottle of pop. The little terror threw rings everywhere. He hit more people than pop bottles.

The man said in a controlled voice, “Edward, Edward, listen to me. Relax buddy, don’t get upset. We’ll be home shortly, stay cool, Edward.”

A Lions member — the Lions Club — ran the ring toss game and was impressed by the man. The Lion said to the man, struggling to drag his grandson to their car, “It’s none of my business, but you are amazing. I don’t know how you do it. You kept your composure, and no matter how loud and disruptive the boy became, you calmly kept saying that things would be OK. Edward is lucky to have you as his grandfather.

“Thank you,” said the man, “but I’m Edward. The little brat’s name is Stuart.”


Hartland resident Al Batt’s column usually appears on Wednesdays.