Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Wheel Keeps on Turnin'

I love a good festival.

From the time I was wee, I felt their draw. If there were amusement rides and games of chance and food on a stick, I was in.

As a kid, of course, it was the rides and the food. And the ridiculously cheaply made stuffed animals. Not much cuddly about a toy stuffed with sawdust. Yet they were coveted. I saw a nice chunk of a Johnny Cash concert once from the top of a double ferris wheel. I would beg my parents to pull over if we happened to pass a little carnival in a parking lot. Sometimes they did.

The Ferris wheel turns. The wheel of chance spins. Step right up, win a prize.

As a teen, festivals provided a great opportunity to see and be seen. Festivals became a lot less expensive when I was less interested in the rides and the food and the games. It didn't cost much to see how many boys I could get to turn their heads to check out my painter's pants and halter tops. (it's true, painter's pants were a very sexy fashion statement) Now the rides were an opportunity to sneak a smootch and the games were an opportunity to let the boys in their concert T-shirts show off their mad athletic skillz.

The Ferris wheel turns. The wheel of chance spins. Step right up, win a prize.

I got engaged to my college sweetheart at the fair, for Pete's sake. (That was not Tom and it did not end well and that's perhaps another story for another day. If, you know, there's ever a day when I want to put my head in an oven or something.)

The Ferris wheel turns. The wheel of chance spins. Step right up, win a prize.

As a young adult, festivals, fairs and carnivals were an excuse to get my party on. Paying way too much for a beer I had to stand in line way too long for didn't seem like such a hardship as a young adult. I remember having my uncle drop me off at a festival once (Designate a driver, kids. Don't drink and drive.) and my cousin's husband met me at the car with a - like - 30 ounce beer in each hand. In those days, the rides were generally not pursued. I reckon the reasoning behind that is obvious.

The Ferris wheel turns. The wheel of chance spins. Step right up, win a prize.

As parents, we get to start this cycle over again - first pushing baby buggies, then holding toddlers hands - experiencing the sights and sounds and smells through the eyes ears and noses of our little ones. (Oh, come on. SOME of the smells are good!) We put them on the kiddie rides and watch as they get older and want to ride the bigger ones. We buy them food we'd never allow them to eat at home. We allow them to win goldfish. (Oh, why in God's name do we allow them to win goldfish?)

The Ferris wheel turns. The wheel of chance spins. Step right up, win a prize.

We went to our first real festival of the season last night. It would seem that that ferris wheel is still spinning, because my girls were there to see and be seen. It was so familiar that it warmed the cockles of my cold dark heart while simultaneously chilling me to the bone.

I'm drawing the line at halter tops.

The Ferris wheel turns. The wheel of chance spins. Step right up, win a prize.


Sandy said...

Halter tops.....drawing the line on theirs or yours?

BONNIE K said...

Ah, the goldfish. That lived for a week, maybe. After we bought a bowl, cause we couldn't find the last one, along with a box of food. And yeah, those stuffed animals were bad.

SparkleFarkel said...

What a fun path you've taken us down today: Carnivals! I could actually smell them as I read! (I also had images of all the toothless, orange men who ran the rides flash before my eyes, too! EW! But that was part of the fun as well, huh? LOL!) Ahh, so much I never want to forget! I remember one year when a carnival game prize became the gift that kept on giving. Nearly two years after winning the goldfish-in-the-plastic-bag-aquarium, Mom found it in the bottom of the toy box! (along with the spud, now with arms for eyes, that was once Mr. Potato Head) I guess those bags weren't forever, and neither were the goldfish. Thought so back then, though. LOL!

Thanks for another GREAT look-back!

Macey said...

Carnivals can smell great if you stay away from the carnies...ha!
Love that greasy smell. Last year the kids each one a GINORMOUS hammer balloon thingy for doing the strong man thing. They were SO proud.
I never went as a kid. Only as a teenager. We rode the rides, but we were too busy scoutin' for hot guys to do much else. :)

Melissa B. said...

Don't's FRIED food on a stick. And after a corny dog and a couple of 30-oz. beers, my stomach starts to turn, too. Although I have to say that I have an attraction for festivals, too. Must have started during my childhood in Dallas. The State Fair of Texas holds forth every October for 2 weeks at Dallas' Fair Park. We even got the day off from school-Fair Day-to go to the fair!

Pam said...

This summer was the first time Katie (who got her license in Feb) went to a festival on her own with a group of friends. I'm sure it was fun to see and be seen. I wonder if she snuck any kisses on the ferris wheel. At least she wasn't wearing a halter top!

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

I am going to the OC Fair and a concert tomorrow night (Blondie and Pat Benatar! Squee!)

Your turn of the ferris wheel phrases breaking up these segments were perfect. The wheel keeps turning no matter what.

I loved me some baseball style concert T's.

Lisa Paul said...

Lovely piece of writing.

And...I love the smell of fried dough in the evening. It's the smell of VICTORY!

Laura F. said...

This was great Tammy...I felt like I was reliving favorite childhood(and adult)moments. I can almost taste the sausage and pepper sammy...mmmmm

Carma Sez said...

Ahhh..your posts always bring me back in time to my heyday ;-) in the 80's. Painters pants were a fashion MUST back then. And you know they were a lot more comfortable than these lowrise circulation stopping jeans we wear now. We never went to the fair when we were little. Not my parents cup of tea. That or anything else fun and mindless :D

Badass Geek said...

I was never one for fairs as a kid. I guess I didn't like the crowds. Who knew that claustrophobia can be a childhood affliction?

valerie said...

I came over here after reading your comment on Linda's blog.
This post was great and brought back memories of when my best friend and her family took me to the state fair every fall. Great times!
After I read your comment on Linda's blog I wanted to tell you that I had a hysterectomy back in 1999 when I was almost 40 years old.
It went so well and I am so glad I don't have to mess with "all the other stuff" :) any more.
The doctor put me on Premarin after surgery. I still take it, but she lowers the dosage each year. I think I did so well on it that I was afraid to switch to anything else. I never have experienced hot flashes or insomnia, or weird mood swings.
You'll do fine. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Looking forward to visiting your blog again.
Valerie in Oklahoma

Night Owl Mama said...

lol hear ya on the halter tops
i was at the carnival friday

Come by 4 a visit C U THEn

Jenn@ You know... that Blog? said...

Do as I say... not as I do (did)? ;) I'm the exact same way, so don't feel bad. Kids can get in way more trouble in this day and age than we could when we were young and hanging out all over the place. The age of innocence is gone, my friends... GONE!

I'm blog hopping - found you on Melissa's blog (Scholastic Scribe). Thought it was about time I stopped by and said hello.


Come visit me some time - maybe on Wednesday so you can participate in my highly addictive Silly Haiku Wednesday ;) This week's theme is cupcakes. You know you want one.

Stacy Uncorked said...

Oh I absolutely loved this post, Tammy! The end gave me goosebumps and chills... Then I laughed with Sandy's comment - theirs or yours? ;)

Claudya Martinez said...

No! No! No! You should draw the line at painter's pants. It's only right.

the girl with the pink teacup said...

Oh, the old 'win a goldfish' chestnut. Who on earth ever thought that was a winner of an idea? My guess is that it was someone with a vendetta against all goldfish for some horrible past wrong.

I loved these little vignettes of your life at different ages and stages against the timeless backdrop of the carnival. Things change, but some things remain, right? (Also: You're rather wonderful.)

Stephanie said...

I too am drawn to the fair. We have one big one here in town and I look forward to the silly thing every least until my girls decide they need to start wearing tank tops! :)

Unknown said...

Festival and Fairs.......ah the memories. That whole halter top flash back gave me pause too.......oh my gosh I've been there........they don't even use that term anymore do they....LOL.

Gibby said...

Oh, this had me laughing. I'll never forget one fair when I was growing up that was notorious for the make-out sessions behind the CHURCH of all places! It was the best part of summer.

Once I became a mother, I swore I would never let my girls on those rides or eat that food. But then Hubs dragged us to one and I relented and they loved it. Now I say F-it, go have fun, all the while having my fingers crossed that that creaky ride doesn't fall over with my kid on it and praying that the corn dog she just ate is actually...cooked.

Love it!