Sunday, June 22, 2008

Carny culture

A grimy carnival comes to town every year, ostensibly in the name of charity. We've never gone to it. This year, as we spent the week driving back and forth past, Big Boy has been pushing to attend. So yesterday we agreed to spend part of the early evening on the midway. But no such plans can stand without being challenged. By the late afternoon, pop-up thunderstorms were beginning to pass through. And there's nothing Big Boy fears more than a storm. He is hypervigilant for any hint of thunder or drops of rain. In tears, Big Boy decided he couldn't go to the carnival because the threat of storms was too great. Somehow, though, we convinced him that we should just "drive by" to see if it was still running, even with impending rain. So I drove him by. There were a few early birds, all kids around his age, riding alone on the Teacup or the Hurricane. At that point there was no rain and Big Boy decided that we could risk it. For my part, I was impressed at the authenticity of this traveling show. Every ride was roaring and rattling in the early evening light, with red shirted carnies moving listlessly among them. The merry-go-round was spinning at a speed I thought was usually reserved for thrill rides. And the first attraction we climbed aboard was manned by a bright-eyed gentleman with a swastika tattooed on his hand. Spinning around on hydraulic stained metal arms I couldn't help but think about the carnival scene as true outlaw (and probably frequently desperate) culture. What drama goes on in those sagging trailers we could see parked behind the generators? We rode a total of two rides before Big Boy felt three consecutive rain drops. So off we went in search of shelter. But at least BB has bragging rights now. He rode the Tornado just before the storm.

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