Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Not Fair
Jennifer Flaten

We pass a cow, another cow, a chicken, and unidentifiable fried item on a stick, yep, I am definitely at the fair.

Sure, it is about 100 degrees outside, but who can resist the lure of cute animals, greasy food and rickety amusement rides? Not me and that's for sure.

I admit my enthusiasm for viewing assorted livestock was enhanced o the fact that the kids received free passes to the fair from the summer reading program at the library.

With the money I saved on the kid's admission, I could buy the jumbo sack of cotton candy and an extra ride on the teacups! See reading is rewarding.

For me, part of the fun of the amusement rides at the fair is the fact that even on most mundane ride like the Ferris wheel you fear for your life.

This year was no exception. Usually, I only worry about the faster, higher rides, but not so with this particular midway.

After an amusing romp in the bouncy house, for the kids, not me, we headed to the carousel.

Normally the carousel is the safest ride in the midway. I mean how dangerous can it be ride a wooden horse up and down, in an endless circle.

Judging by the condition of this ride, it's damn dangerous to ride a merry-go-round. It seemed moments from total collapse.

This merry-go-round was so rickety I couldn't imagine it supporting one toddler let alone the herd of kids and adults that thundered onto the ride five minutes after we did.

Through some miracle of metal the thing held, although as each adults boarded the ride, the whole contraption listed ever more slightly to right.

I considered hopping off before the ride flung us into oblivion but as the carousel began to turn, I realized my washer spins faster.

Apparently, either the carousel could turn or the horses could go up and down, not both.

At one point, the kids looked so disappointed in the lack of motion, I was tempted to hop off and give the whole thing a gigantic push.

The ride finally wheezed to a stop and we moved off to the more dangerous rides.

As we walked along, I discreetly checked for inspection stickers. A brief stint working in division of government responsible for checking the safety of amusement rides caused my mother to insist I never get on another ride without checking for an inspection sticker.

Much to my surprise, the stickers were not only easy to spot but were current. This didn't make me feel as safe as I thought it would.

After riding the scariest Ferris wheel ride ever, I began to wonder if perhaps the promise of free corn dogs and Slushies for life coloured the inspectors judgment as to the safety of the rides.

Once again, on solid ground, I decided we'd cheated death enough for one day and convinced the kids it would be more interesting to check out the winning canned goods in the expo hall.

In order to get to the exhibit hall, we had to pass through the carnival games. Children, mine especially, are inexplicably drawn to cheap, mass-produced toys. No surprise, they begged to win something, that is, for me to win it for them. "Good luck," I said aloud.

I explained, to the kids, I had a better chance of winning a Nobel Prize than they or I did of winning the giant stuffed unicorn from the pick a duck booth. Using the promise of ice cream cones, I managed to herd them out of the game area with my 401k still intact.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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