Each year the kids and I spend an evening at the Kansas State Fair. In previous years we’ve purchased rabbits, been to all the exhibits, entered contests, and eaten just about every type of fair food we could get our hands on. This year was different. This year I decided to go only on the dollar day. By the time we would pay for admission, food, drinks, games, rides, and of course rabbits and other “must haves”, we’d leave with empty pockets in addition to sore feet. We live on a budget for everything else, so I figured it was just natural for us to live on a budget at the fair…and stick to it.
So, today was dollar day. Four bucks to get in the gates. Not bad for starters. Each of my kids got a little cash to buy a few ride tickets, grab a treat, and we had to make sure they were home in time for bed. It’s a school night after all! They ran into a few of their friends, split up, and stayed connected to me via cell phones. Since my teenagers were with their friends, my youngest daughter didn’t have anyone to ride the whirly, twirly, spinny rides. Naturally, she looks at me to go with her. Uh, yeah. Now I just didn’t see how this was going to work.
About 10 years ago, I would have ridden the upside down, side-winding, twist my head around roller coasters. I even remember riding the Spaceship 3000 (gravity bowl thing) that spins so fast you stick to the wall. You know, the one where if you spit while riding in it, the spit flies back into your own face. I’ve never spit in one…honest…but I’ve heard this from my kids. Hmmm…makes me wish I could see exactly what goes on in it when that door closes behind them. And then again, maybe I really don’t want to know!
My youngest begged. She pleaded. I started to cave in knowing that if I got on this ride with her, that I was probably going to pass out. I just can’t ride anything that spins anymore. As I reached for a ticket in my pocket to join her, her brother shows up with his friend. AHA! I was so saved! I gave the boys tickets (on my treat), and asked that they join her. Meanwhile, I grab my camera to get a snapshot. It just wasn’t going to happen. My batteries were dead! I realize now while writing this that I do have a camera phone. Wow, if I’d only been on the ball, I could’ve had pictures!
This was also the first fair that it had been cold. So cold that when I tried to text my daughter, my fingers wouldn’t work. In fact, they were numb along with my toes. Tonight’s temperature was a bone chilling 54 degrees. Some wouldn’t consider that a frigid temperature, but growing up in the South and living 20 years in the warm State of Florida, it was frigid. I needed something warm, and about the only thing available that didn’t contain ice was coffee, which I do not drink much of. Me on coffee is a sight to see. I can be put on a hamster wheel to power our entire city after a cup. If I disappear, please contact our local officials. It’s quite possible that I’ve been kidnapped to produce cheap electricity. A cup of coffee would get a couple of hours of energy out of me.
After my daughter’s friend left, she joined my youngest daughter and I again. I wanted coffee, and she wanted a carmel apple. We both got carmel apples. I got my coffee. My youngest was smiling like the Chesire Cat while eating her corndog. As we walked around, my daughter kept laughing at me. I had carmel on my upper lip. After another bite or two, I realized it was on my nose and chin as well. We kept taking a bite of our apples and pointing and laughing at each other. We had somehow managed to have carmelized faces. Now, a word to the wise. When you wipe sticky carmel from your face with a paper napkin, the paper tears off and sticks to the carmel. Yeah…and my camera had dead batteries!
My youngest somehow managed to lose the stick in her corndog, so she had to hold it covered in ketchup in her hands. We don’t normally require bibs and hand wipes, but tonight said anything but. It got even better when the blustery wind picked up and my teenagers long hair got wrapped in her carmel apple. You think gum is bad? This was some stringy carmel. Trust me on this one. At one point, it strung from my nose to the apple on the stick. Where is the camera when I need it?
When we finally reached the point of 54 degree hypothermia, or at least what felt that cold, we decided to head out. My son and his buddy decided to end their fair-going with good ol’ fashioned french fries and one last ride as we made our way back toward the gates. As we walked through the parking lot, we realized that we were stepping in deep, slippery mud that was residual from the rain and cars driving through it repeatedly. Of course, my youngest daughter had on white sandles. They are now blackened and have that “all terrain” look. Since my camera didn’t have any battery power left, and I didn’t think to use my cell phone camera, we left pictureless. But what remains are the memories that I have in my head.
In a picture, I’d see only a still shot of the messes. I’d miss the laughter, the pointing, and the natural unposed images that my memory captured. Sure, pictures and video would’ve been a great addition, but given the circumstances, I am so thankful that I have been blessed with the best memories of the fair yet. And besides, with all that caramel still glued to me, the shutter on the camera probably would’ve been stuck shut. Who knew that a messy Monday could be one of my favorite Mondays? No one. Not even me… until it happened.