The fair is coming! The fair is coming! Nothing symbolizes the change of seasons more to me than cotton candy, the 4-H petting zoo and the tilt-a-whirl at the county fair.
Growing up, I went every year with my family, which we documented with family portraits. Each year, for a good eleven years, my mom and dad chunked down $2 to have an elderly couple take our Polaroid in their trailer in front of a colorful background.
Today, those photos are priceless. My sister goes from infant to pre-teen. I go from toothless to braces, dad from sideburns to balding, mom from bellbottoms and a rope belt to pantsuits. Speaking of fashion, apparently, dad had a special “going to the fair” shirt. He wore it at least four years in a row. On a side note, it’s never cute to dress siblings alike, especially when one is 4 ½ years older than the other!
I still love the fair, although I realize not everyone feels the same. My husband, for example, loathes it. He may not travel for a year, but fair week—he’s gone! Of course, not all my fair memories are good…
I remember when I was 14 years old. After weeks of pleading, I talked my parents into allowing me to walk across the street and up the hill to what is now the old fairgrounds. I felt so grown-up (Last year, I learned my dad followed me in his car and spied on me to make sure I got there safely!). It was a big day for me because the boy I had a HUGE crush on, Ronnie, was walking with our group. Just to be in his vicinity was a thrill for me.
After riding a few tamer rides, Ronnie announced he wanted to ride the Gravitron. No one else did, so Ronnie turned and asked me. Now, you must understand, this was the first thing he had said to me all afternoon, so even though I had to take dramamine before riding in the backseat to the store around the block, I agreed.
As the attendant fastened us in side by side, Ronnie’s hand brushed mine. What a perfect day. Here I was next to my dream guy; how wonderful. Then the room began to spin faster and faster as the music blared. The pressure of the centrifugal force, equivalent to four times the force of gravity, pushed us against the wall as the floor dropped out from under us. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so romantic.
After something close to an eternity, the ride stopped. The force released us, and I stumbled for the door, shoving people out of the way, as I went.
“Wait, Leigh!” I heard Ronnie call.
I waved at him to go on and staggered behind the ride. Perhaps he thought I meant for him to follow, so he could steal a kiss, or perhaps he just wanted to check on me. Either way, when he found me, I was leaning over with my hands on my knees. My head was spinning wildly and not from love.
He grabbed my hand and asked, “Do you want to ride again?”
To which I responded by vomiting on his shoes. That was the most embarrassing moment of my life.
Things may not have worked out with Ronnie and me, but the fair still has a special place in my heart. But, you know, the more I think about it, maybe I will find a reason to be out of town this year!