Monday, September 28, 2009

Awesomeness and Carousels...

It's finally Autumn. A wind has cropped up overnight that adds a chill to the air and tonight is supposed to be downright chilly. I can feel my mother- the cold-weather-hater- cringing as I write this; she does not share my enthusiasm for the fact that I will be able to switch to warmer pajamas and add more covers to my bed. The wind is supposed to be gusty today and I foresee showers of leaves cascading down from the trees.

I love days like this. I've been waiting a while, patiently through the summer, for the weather to change and bring with it the coziness of the cooler months.

While I think we'll likely have an indian summer at some point, I think today means that Autumn is here. I felt touches of it over the weekend, a crispness hidden in the breeze. Yet, while I took my sweatshirt to the fair on Saturday evening, I really didn't need it. It was warm enough with the crowds that I really only put it on so I didn't have to have it tied around my waist.

The fair itself was...anti-climactic, I'm sad to report. While it was nice to see almost the exact same fair as I remember, I realized that, overall, fairs aren't my favourite thing ever. Maybe they were once but now I'm an adult, there are far better ways I'd rather spend my money and my time.

However, it was nice to go back for the first time in several years. It was especially fun because we met my sister's family there and she has a three-year-old daughter. Going to the fair with a three-year-old gives you a new perspective. For example, I did get to go on a ride. My niece favours the carousel. That ride, to her, is safe and thus...approved. Apparently, at one of the last fair-type places she went with her parents, she went on a train-ride for kids and it traumatized her. The carousel, however, is not traumatizing. It is, in fact, "AWESOME!". I know this because I got to be the 'responsible' adult who went on the ride with her to hold her on the pony and make sure she didn't fall. As the carousel turned, we both yelled, "AWESOME!" every time we got to a certain spot. We also waved at her parents/grandparents as we passed then. I admit, it was fun, if a little dizzying.

My niece is also a bit of a, um, gambler, it seems. The Street Fair has a game called "The Mouse Game." Maybe you've seen it. Maybe you haven't. Basically, it's roulette only instead of spinning a wheel, a little mouse is dropped out of a box and scurries into a hole marked with a number. When you play, you get to select a bank of three consecutive numbers and mark them with a quarter. If the mouse scurries into a hole marked with one of your numbers, you win.

My niece loves this game. I thought it'd be fun to play. I admit, however, I do have a few reservations having watched the game. That poor little mouse. It's pretty much thrown out of the box onto the game board and it rarely gets a break. Drop and run, drop and run. I know some people don't like mice but I do. They're cute and harmless. Now, if it had been a Nutley, I might not have felt so bad.

Just kidding. Mostly. We played that game for a very long time. My niece was bound and determined to win her stuffed pink monkey. So we all gave her quarters. We all put quarters down. No luck. That damn mouse scurried into a number next to one of ours many times but never choose ours. Finally, we realize we're out of quarters and we have to stop. My niece has one quarter left and we tell her, "last time!" She puts the coin down and, lo and behold, her number comes up. She finally got her pink fluffy monkey which she immediately hugged. The toy probably cost us about $7 worth of quarters but what's that to a little girl's thrill at winning a fair toy?

It was fun being at the fair with my sister and her family but they left earlier than us. This left my parent's and I to wander around and get food. I chose the Wisconsin Cheese Sticks and I split them with my mother. I'm sad to report, they are not the greasy fried ambrosia I had concocted in my head; they were greasy sticks of barely melted cheese that fell extremely short to my memor of them. I was sad. My parents split some fried veggies but they were very greasy and sometimes that stuff doesn't sit well in my stomach. I settled on a hot dog for dinner which, I admit, is a cop out but after two heavily-fried snacks, I didn't want to push my luck.

Even the industrial tent let me down. By the time we got there, most of the tables had gone and there was no popcorn or apple dumplings to scent the air.

Ah well, such is life. I'm glad I went because it was nice to bump into some old friends and see what I've been missing. I think, perhaps, my biggest mistake was becoming such an enthusiastic Disneyland attendee during my L.A. days. I'm spoiled rotten. I'm sure in a few years, I'll adjust my expectations back downwards.

Still, Street Fair is a tradition in my parent's town. It's the first marker that Autumn is here. It's a time for the town to take to the streets, to mingle, to brush shoulders and torment innocent mice. It's a tradition I've missed, even if it wasn't everything I hoped and more. Sometimes there's something nice about the fact that things don't change, that the fact that the fish sandwiches are still in the same place as always, that the Pizza Hut wagon still smells ridiculously tempting with it's melted cheese and bread crust smell and that there will always be more than one place to toss a ping-pong ball into a fish bowl and win a goldfish.

And though it may not be Disneyland, in the words of my three-year-old niece, that's "AWESOME!"

Happy Monday.

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