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For the Love of the Fair

We go to the fair because it’s here.  Because deep inside, even if we don’t buy one, we still want a Krusty Pup.  And a pile of fries.  And the seven dollar bag of Kettle corn.  Oh, and a new gadget of some kind, though we won’t know what it is until we see it.  Only that we’ll be more complete with its purchase.  But then I could just be speaking for myself.

And because we bring our children, we go to see the cows. And we marvel at their enormous udders.  We reverse routes to pet the miniature horses, and then we wonder what people do with such tiny horses.  Play dress up?  Tuck ’em in bed?   We hunt around for the cats we’re sure are here and then strain to stroke them, though they’re curled up in the back of their cages.  We pat the sheep dog.  But he just lays there.

And then we see the rides.  The alluring, lighted, six-ticket rides.  Only we had this discussion in the kitchen before we left.  She was leaning against the counter, and I was coming up for air from the dishwasher. And I put it out there.  We weren’t coming to the fair for rides today.  No. Rides. To-Day.  And she was disappointed.  But she’d said, “okay.”

Only she’s still more kid than adult.  And here at the fair, her eyes are bulging as we round Sillyville and as she takes in all this fantastic noise and these bulbous lights.  And it’s written all over her–she desperately wants to go on a ride.  So we check on the price of tickets.

Because really, it’s this: we want her to know she can learn anywhere.  Or everywhere.  Or wherever she’s standing.  Like right here at the Puyallup Fair.  Which as it turns out has a zillion things to say yes or no to, and math all over the place.

For $15.oo we can get 20 tickets.  So, how much will one ride cost?  Well…

After a lap or two  around the fair, she decides she likes the little canoe ride best.  It costs four tickets.

Now with her dad, she’s figuring  out the price of the ride.  He’s asking her how many times she could ride a five-ticket ride with twenty tickets.

And he’s patient like that.  He’ll wait for her to answer.  Even if his knees snap off before she concludes it’s four. But she gets there.  With her twenty tickets, she could ride a five-ticket ride four times.

Which also means, she realizes, that she can ride a four-ticket ride five (5) times.  Only he’s asking if she’s sure.

And she is.  And then together we conclude that her 90 second ride will cost $3.20.

“So is it a good value for your money?” he asks her.  And she’s adamant. “No way.”

Which doesn’t mean we’ve nipped her fun at the fair–nixing the ride bit and all.  She’ll get her own ride opportunity another day.  We’ll keep our word.

Today, though, was for dreaming.  Big.

For playing Cribbage.  And for noting the sparseness of my husband’s hair on top.

For anticipating the joy of others.

As they launch toward the heavens.

For wishing we were taller and could join them.

If only our stomach would make peace with our food.

It was a day for noticing flowers.

And finding contentment only after we’d smelled each one.

Uh, each and every one.

It was a day for knowing Elvis.  For remembering him from high school.  Only now having to wait in line twenty minutes behind the swooning elderly crowd just to shake his hand.

For realizing the memory is mutual, as they shake hands.  My husband and Elvis.  Only my husband did not buy his cd, so Elvis did not sign it.  But it was worth his twenty minutes nonetheless.

It’s also a day for standing next to the prettiest dress at the fair.  Only I’m not sure who she is.  But regardless, she and I talk about hair color.  She tells me that she used to look just like my daughter, only her hair was red and her eyes green.  And I nod.  And she points to her hair and says, “but this is all dyed now.”  And she adds, “you know how it is.”  And I tell her I do.  Only I wish I didn’t.  Know, that is.  About dying my hair.

Then on our way to the exit, since we stumble on a fire truck, we realize that it is also a day for a little girl to be anything she wants to be.

And then that’s it. We’ve done the fair.  We’ve petted the tamest animals with four legs, eaten our lunch in the lone grassy area, drooled at the rides, walked in circles.

It’s time. To collapse with the chip bag.

And drag our bodies home.  We done did Free our Glee.

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