The last time I went to a fair, attractions included the world’s largest steer, which weighed over two tons; a house made from a hollowed-out giant redwood tree, a caged animal referred to as the Missing Link, and a performance by the falsetto singer, Tiny Tim (who passed away in 1996). And it rained so hard that night, even my bra ended up full of water.
So when my friends Paul and Nancy invited me to go to the Deerfield Fair last Thursday, I eagerly accepted the invitation. I figured it had been much too long since I’d been.
Knowing my luck, however, I anticipated that the weather that day would include a downpour so torrential, the animals at the fair would be lining up in pairs and searching for Noah. Luckily, the weather cooperated and it was a bright, sunny, slightly breezy day.
Two things struck me the minute we entered the fairgrounds – the area was huge, much bigger than I’d remembered…and hillier, and everything smelled like fried food.
I soon discovered why. The fair was overflowing with fried stuff for sale – fried dough, French fries, fried onion rings and even chocolate-covered bacon. I felt myself breaking out in zits just walking past the food booths.
Paul and Nancy said one of their friends was supposed to have a booth featuring lobsters, so we searched for it. We finally spotted a booth selling lobster bisque, so Paul walked over and asked the guy if his friend might be in charge of it.
The man smiled at him. “If I say yes, will you buy some of my bisque?”
Paul only laughed. The guy, however, was persistent. He filled a tiny cup with bisque and told Paul to try it. “Once you sample it, you’ll be hooked,” he said.
Paul, brave soul that he was, handed the cup to Nancy. She stared at it for a moment and then took a sip as everyone stared at her, watching her expression.
The only way to describe her reaction would be…confused.
“Does this have pumpkin in it?” she asked.
The guy in the booth looked as if she’d just asked him if he’d dumped ground-up ants into it. “No,” he said, frowning.
When the three of us walked away without buying any bisque, they guy clearly looked offended. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that even if I were stranded on a tropical island and had nothing to eat but lobsters, I’d probably starve to death because I dislike them so much. I mean, after all, their nickname is “cockroach of the sea.”
The act the three of us were eager to see was the world-famous Flying Wallendas. We took our seats in the bleachers and stared up at the high wire, about 30 feet overhead, with no net underneath. The thought kept running through my head that just one wrong move and one of the Wallendas could end up doing a nosedive onto the grass, but obviously that’s what they wanted the audience to think – to add to the thrill of their performance.
The Wallendas did not disappoint. Their act was filled with thrills and daredevil stunts. I mean, how often do you see a 12-year-old girl dangling by just her toes, 30 feet above the ground?
However, I found myself repeatedly staring at Alex Wallenda. I swear the guy had a smile that could melt a polar ice cap. It didn’t matter that he was young enough to be my grandson, every time he smiled in the direction of our seats, I felt as if I were suffering from a post-menopausal hot flash. Of course, it might have been a post-menopausal hot flash, but that’s beside the point.
Following the performance, the Wallendas announced that they would be giving out free postcards and autographs. I headed straight for Alex, as Paul and Nancy smiled in amusement at me. The two people in line ahead of me shook hands with Alex and told him how great his act was, and he smiled and chatted with them. I stood there thinking I was going to do the same.
When it was my turn to get an autograph, Alex, now only inches away, looked directly at me, flashed that dazzling smile of his and said, “Hi!”
For the first time in my life, I couldn’t utter a word. I just silently stood there, my eyes fixed on that smile, and didn’t make a single sound. It was as if someone had glued my lips together. The next thing I knew, I was walking away, an autographed postcard in my hand, and wondering, “What the heck just happened?”
All I can say is Alex Wallenda should patent his smile as a lethal weapon.
Paul, Nancy and I managed to visit just about every exhibit at the fair. I saw birds that looked as if they were wearing fur coats; a baby chick hatching; a star made out of license plates; a butternut squash the length of a baseball bat; and a carrot that could have fed an army of rabbits. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
But after six hours, my feet and back began to beg me for mercy. So I told Paul and Nancy I was ready to go. I noticed as we were leaving, they had their hands stamped so they could return.
Sure enough, I received an email from them the next morning telling me they’d returned to the fair that night and saw some other acts, including a Beatles tribute band. I’m a huge fan of the Beatles, and would have loved to have seen the show.
Unfortunately, at the very moment they were performing, I was snoring on the sofa.
I have the sneaking suspicion I just might be getting old.