Al Batt: Fry me to the moon where no 2 snow cones are alike

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I slipped the surly bonds of the unfair and leaped like a graceful gazelle onto the county fairgrounds.

Al Batt

It was fairly fabulous. People, lights, music and the racket of the carnival. There were fewer people than at an average Taylor Swift concert, but there was a sound carried by the fair air that reverberated as if a thousand people were standing in a corner and yelling intersecting monologues. It’s a soundtrack of summer. I lent an ear, but I couldn’t hear Van Morrison singing, “These are the days of the endless summer. These are the days, the time is now. There is no past, there’s only future. There’s only here, there’s only now.”

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I walked the pavement, which was a foot toaster on a sizzling hot day, and greeted agreeable strangers. It was such a scorcher, they’d canceled the chili dogs.

My true love gave me five onion rings and I made haste to an unpretentious little barn with the capability of unleashing one of the most powerful forces for good known to man…the maple nut ice cream cone.

A fair is a place where people with deep-fried-on-a-stick genes go to display gluttony without anyone frowning at them. We learn as children how to drive a stick with food impaled on it. A monarch caterpillar is a good eater and grows to be 2000 times its hatch weight. That’d be like me growing to be the size of two blue whales. Impossible, right? But at a fair, I give it a shot.

People shop without coupons for foods as sweet as a spouse the week before Christmas or as greasy as a politician’s palm. My wife has a friend who carries a bottle of ketchup with her everywhere she goes. I reckon everywhere includes a fair. I often measure the food against the line. Long lines mean good food and eating somewhere else. A vendor, quickly identifying me as a rube, gave me a tiny box of Dots with six candies in it. He hoped to entice me to purchase something. I took the candy and ran. A friend told me that a former coworker gave her a box of Dots every day so she wouldn’t tell his wife that he was having an affair with another coworker. Dots are good. His plan worked.

I nearly stepped on a fallen slice of pizza. I like cracker-thin crust pizza cut into small squares. Squares are more dependable. Triangular slices flop and falter.

I worked at one fair for a few years where I handed out square yardsticks/walking sticks, each complete with a leather strap. They were popular items. I told everyone who grabbed a wooden prize, “They aren’t making yardsticks any longer.” People gave me an odd look before rushing off to measure something.

As I watched The Dow Jones ride on the midway go up and down, I considered the things I’d learned at the fair.

If I want to find BBQ, I listen for blues music.

No one should ever go with the lowest bidder when they’re getting a tattoo.

Thoroughbred chickens are worth marveling at.

To avoid a ride called “The Upchucker.”

The Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round travel in different circles.

There is a building that is like a zoo for vegetables.

Get cotton candy if you want everything to stick to it. Cotton candy is fine and dandy and it’s a relief when a sticky situation involves only cotton candy.

It’s waistlines versus belts.

Every fair needs a Lutheran dining hall offering mashed potatoes.

A strawberry malt makes a day smile.

People enjoy lining up.

Ears shouldn’t be too close to a gifted chainsaw artist.

I don’t recall a time that a box of popcorn has treated me so kindly.

I’ve forgotten most of the things the fair taught me. Write it down or forget it.

The fair is always the same and it’s always different. I have to go to the fair. It’s like having an about-to-expire coupon.

A fair ends as quickly as it begins. I head back to port as a heavier but wiser man.

If the fair’s last day wasn’t a great day, it’ll have to do until a great day gets here.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday in the Tribune.