Improgging is improvisational blogging. A word is posted on the Improg blog twice a week. Take that word and blog about it in anyway you’d like: happy, sad, thoughtful, funny, short, long, with pictures, with words—anything goes! To read other people's interpretation of the current word, go here.
Monday’s posted word was fair. I was thinking about posting about things that are fair and things that aren’t—I could go on forever about this, I bet. But then I started thinking all the fairs I’ve gone to. I grew up going to the county fair and for a dozen years lived in an area that holds a big agricultural fair every summer.
But the best years, fair-wise, were the years we lived in California when our kids were younger. Some people call the area we lived in Wine Country, but to us it was Fair Country. We usually went to five or six fairs every year, starting with the Apple Blossom Fair in April and ending with the Sonoma County Harvest Fair in October. We went to the fair (two, actually) in our first month living there and we went to the fair in our last month living there.
Now I live close to the grounds for the Pacific National Exhibition, known as the PNE. It has a midway and rides (they’re actually there all year), and there are some farm animals, but it’s much bigger and more commercial than the fairs I love. There’s no home ec building where I can see everyone’s strawberry jams or check how many ribbons a friend won for her crafts like I could at other fairs. The vendors are commercial ones. I can’t buy a wall-hanging for my daughter’s room from a member of the quilt guild or a hemp bracelet from a guy with dreadlocks. There are no displays of kids’ science projects or Lego creations. The PNE is fun, but it’s not a community fair.
My stepsister and I liked to go to our county fair during the day when it was quiet, because the guys running the rides would let us stay on as long as we wanted. I still feel bad about the time we were on the Octopus and, thinking we were the only ones, we had the guy keep it going around and around and around, until finally the short kid we hadn’t noticed before threw up.
We were also crazy about roller coasters. Take a lesson from me: Don’t wear a strapless top on a roller coaster, or if you do, don’t put your hands over your head as you go down the big hill. Hello, Santa Cruz!
My kids are not big fans of fair rides and for this I’m kind of grateful. For one thing, as I’ve gotten older, even one round of Ring around the Rosy makes me so dizzy that I have to sit with my head between my knees. I don’t think I could take the Tilt-a-Whirl anymore. For another, we rarely have to stand in line for an hour and a half and pay $5 each to enjoy a 45-second ride.
And once you’ve become a mom, the rides that used to seem so thrilling are downright scary. I was never truly frightened on a roller coaster—not even the time when, with my hands in the air instead of holding onto the bar like a smart person would do, I flew right out of my seat and the guy sitting with me had to haul me back down by the waistband of my jeans—until I took my three-year-old son on the kiddy roller coaster at the Sonoma County Fair. No safety bar seems safe enough when it’s your kid. When were those bolts last tightened? Is that seat belt frayed? As we rode around the Dragon Coaster, a good five or six feet in the air, I had a death grip on his little shoulder.
Soon my son’s class is going on a field trip to the PNE grounds. Having inherited the family pukey gene, he won’t go on the dizzying rides, but he is planning on trying out the very roller coaster that I almost flew out of almost 27 years ago. He’s smaller and skinnier than I was then and if the safety bar is the same, it won’t come anywhere close to his body. But he’s also more sensible than I was (and he’s heard my story), so he’ll probably be holding on. I won’t know for sure, though, because I won’t be able to watch.