I Think We Can All Be Glad That The Carnival Only Comes Around Once A Year


The carnival is all set up in Small Town, and eventually all the shouts of PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE CAN WE GO RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND wore me down, and I committed myself to the event.

It’s kind of like long ago, when we all dreamed of having a really sweet Trans Am with an enormous firebird on the hood, and we were going to drive that sucker fast and straight into the sunset, because LOW!  What a beauty!  Of course I was pretty much driving the Trans Am train, because yes.  THAT is the car that I first wanted.  And now I look back on those dreams, and I am grateful to the small fact that having ZERO-POINT-ZERO DOLLARS actually worked in my favor, and I ended up with a nice 1982 Honda Accord for my first car, because the dreamy Trans Am was out of my price range.

God bless the poor!

Because now?  Well, I can’t envision a world where I thought the Trans Am was cool, because EWW!  And UGLY!  And that, people, is what happens when you grow up — your visions change, and you realize that Shaun Cassidy’s hair might not be as heart stopping as you once thought.

It’s the same for the carnival, because as a young girl, I was the one jumping up and down, pestering my parents that, FOR THE LOVE OF POCAHONTAS’ MOTHER, CAN WE PUH-LEEZ GO TO THE CARNIVAL WHILE IT’S IN TOWN?!  And my parents hemmed and hawed, and my mother mentioned words like SHADY and CARNIES and POORLY ASSEMBLED and THEY’RE USUALLY JUST A BUNCH OF DOPE SMOKERS OUT TO RIP PEOPLE OFF.

And today?  I have become the grownup in the situation, and I can see things involved with the carnival that my eleven-year-old son cannot.

Like these boots:

People, it was 99 degrees in Small Town yesterday, and after an early-evening thunderstorm, the humidity was at 723%.  I had sweat in all the unladylike places while we roamed the carnival grounds, and then there was this girl wearing these boots.

These boots that were meant to be worn at the North Pole in mid December, if you’re a scientist taking core iceberg samples.

I immediately turned to my friend, LeeAnn, and asked, “Why?”  And she said “The hot pink on the boots matches her outfit.”

Her outfit, which was a one-piece, mini skirt / tank top deal, constructed entirely of hot pink Lycra.

(And if you’re reading this, and those are YOUR boots featured, then I humbly apologize, but really?  THOSE BOOTS in July in Small Town?  Oh, honey.  I want to give you some money to purchase a nice pair of flip-flops so that your poor toes can breathe and feel like ten friends on a camping trip.)

Of course, LeeAnn kept hissing, “What are you doing?  You can’t take a picture of HER BOOTS!  You don’t even KNOW her!”  I simply threw caution to the wind, because I was dying to show Hubs the boots!

So yes.

LeeAnn and Hubs and I braved the heat and the humidity and the elements, and we loaded up five boys and Thing 2, and we hit the carnival.  (Which, if you do the math, makes six boys, but only five were of the I CAN WALK BY MYSELF variety.)

There’s Collin, Enzo, the boy and the cute neighbor boy.

And the answer to WHY DO THEY HAVE SWEATSHIRTS ON is a hearty yes and indeed.  Hubs and I BOTH told them, “Um, just because we had a fifteen-minute rainstorm, the weather is not cold.  Wouldn’t y’all like to leave your sweatshirts in the Suburban, since we are parking 90 miles away from the carnival, and we won’t be back until we shut this place down?”  And the boys said, “No.  We will wear the hoodies.”  And ten minutes later, guess who was carrying the sweatshirts?  That would have been me, because THEY WERE HOT!  SO HOT!  IT’S SO STICKY HOT, I’M SWEATING, MA!

And there’s Carlos and Collin.

One of the perks about the carnival was that we met our old and dear friends, Shad and Shelly, and their daughter, Delaney, there.  They used to live in Small Town years ago, but then they heard the call of the ocean and the surf lessons and the Disneyland, and they loaded up the truck, and they moved to Beverly.  Hills, that is.

Or maybe it was just to California, in an area that isn’t Beverly Hills.

No matter.  They are in town for the weekend, so we hugged their necks and made tremendous plans to have dinner together later on, because we do adore them.

After I snapped this picture, I tried to show it to Shad on the back of my camera, and he said, “Oh, I don’t need to SEE it.  I ALREADY KNOW that it’s a great picture, because I’m in it.”


And then, amidst the 62,000 people waiting in lines to ride poorly-constructed carnival contraptions, we got busy.

I love how Enzo’s head looks like it’s just floating — completely bodyless — in this next shot.

And at this point in the evening, Thing 2 snapped.  He had just had shots, and he had just had 17,000 people pat his head and proclaim him to be adorable and darling, and he was spent.  I volunteered to take him home for some Carnival Recovery, and Hubs shouted, “I’ll do it!”  And then he clutched the baby to his chest and ran like an Olympic gold medalist to the Suburban, before I could catch him and take away his Carnival Out.

So LeeAnn and I just kept plowing through the throngs of people and trying to stay well hydrated with bottled water that cost as much as three gold bricks.

Eventually, we ran into Enzo’s dad and younger brother, and they all piled into the Bear Affair ride, where Mark used every bit of his biceps to spin the wheel in an attempt to create some puke.

Namely, from me, because I was getting the motion sickness trying to snap pictures of them.

And then, right there in the middle of the carnival for all the kids to see, we ran into a very public display of affection.

(Mamas, cover the eyes of your young ones.)

(We’re about to go PG-13 here at Jedi Mama, Inc.)

Oh, people!  Those are our friends, Dave and Missi.  And while we were standing around, watching Mark create queasy stomachs on the Bear Affair ride, Dave leaned over and gave Missi the sweetest hug ever.  It was a hug that looked like it had been choreographed for The Notebook.  And I scrambled to get my camera off my shoulder, and low.  I missed the hug, which would have made a lovely framed gift for Missi.

And then Missi caught my eye, and I indicated, “Dang.  I missed catching the hug with the Canon!”  And Missi held up one finger to indicate, “Get the camera ready.”

And then she laid a lip lock on Dave that made him say, “Um, should we go behind the Tilt-A-Whirl for a bit?”

And then Missi said, “When you paste that picture on your blog, please tell the world that I HATE CARNIVALS.  Please let everyone know that carnivals could very well be the death of me, and I’m sure they have carnivals in hell.”


The lines for the rides were so long, the boys had to entertain themselves by playing a game where they slapped each other’s hands.  Future 6th grade boys are very mature in their entertainment choices.

(There’s Enzo, looking into the middle distance.  Come back to us, Enzo!)

We also ran into Cousin R, and Hubs’ brother at the carnival, but it might be easier to just list the two people from Small Town, USA that we DID NOT SEE at the carnival last night.

Because?  Did I mention?  62,000 people, which is saying something, considering that Small Town’s population is less than 20,000.

Eventually, we  lost one of our crew for the night, because of EXTREME MOTION SICKNESS and I’M GOING TO BARF!!!  And, listen:  I felt so sorry for him, because OH MY WORD!  I am the motion sickness’ EASIEST VICTIM, until I feel like I’m going to die.

I say this, because last year I actually had to swallow a Dramamine for dinner just to WATCH the rides, people.

I am also what you call a non-rider, because GOODNESS!  One ride will insure that everyone sees what I ate for lunch sitting on the ground.

And that, people, is how we shut the carnival down last night.  We came home exhausted and covered with sweat and germs, and smelling like 800 different flavors of secondhand cigarette smoke and corndog grease.

Sadly, all the action and crowds and excitement did nothing to wear this tribe of boys out.  They left hopped up on a summer high that only comes to town once a year, and looking like a walking advertisement for different sporting goods companies.

And cheers to the hope that next summer, their love affair with the carnival will have died like my dream of owning a Trans Am did.

Because I’m pretty sure that Missi knows exactly what she was talking about, as far as carnivals and eternity goes.  That’s why I’m hanging out with Jesus.

1 thought on “I Think We Can All Be Glad That The Carnival Only Comes Around Once A Year

  1. I must say you are truly amazing to stay at the carnival all the way into sunset. Great action shots. Oh and your comment about the games future 6th graders play while waiting in line. Trust me, even when they are 21, those games continue…:)

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