Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Will Someone Please Explain the State Fair to Me?

Seriously. Please. Nothing makes me scratch my head until it's bloody more than the State Fair. I cannot fathom how a trip to the Fair could, in any way, be considered enjoyable.

I have always felt this way. When I was a kid, we were too poor to afford coupons for rides (or anything other than Fair admission) so my mom used to take me to the "rides" which was just the Automotive Hall. I then ran from car to car sitting behind the wheel of those oh-so-exotic Chevrolets pretending to drive and pushing buttons and levers. It's very similar to the Driving a Car game I used to play in our driveway where I sat behind the wheel of our minivan and pretended to drive and change the radio station. Only the State Fair allowed me to sit behind the wheels of many different cars.

But now I am lucky enough to be an adult with a more comfortable financial situation and a knowledge that most buttons and levers on Chevys these days are plastic and will break off if you touch them. I have no desire to sit behind the wheel of the newest offering from Hyundai. I actually have a car now and I have to drive it to get to places so the Automotive Hall has lost much of its' appeal to me. Let me sit in an Aston Martin or a 1957 Thunderbird and we'll talk.

So taking the Automotive Hall out of the equation, I am lost for answers. I decided last year was the final year I would be made to go to the Fair. And even that ended up being an accident. My mom got free tickets and asked me to go. I went and tried to keep my desperation to leave hidden. At one point, as my Mom and I stood in the hot sun waiting to use a disgusting ladies bathroom (I tend to rely on beers to get me through the pain), she turned to me and said she was glad that I was getting to re-live my childhood. Excuse me? So it turns out that my mom hates the Fair and only went because she thought going to the Fair was some happy part of my childhood that I would want to re-live. I told her I hated the Fair when I was a kid and I hate it more now. She revealed that she hated taking me to the Fair but thought it was what kids liked to do. We had this beautiful mother/daughter bonding moment as we realized that we both hated the Fair and would never have to go again. Then we split.

I hear friends talking about being excited to go. They can't tell me why they love it so much. I wonder if it's the admission price? The ramshackle carnie-erected rides? The overpriced food and drinks? The hall where you can walk around and have people try to sell you storm windows? The equestrian show held in an unventilated shed filled with stagnant hot Texas air, horse droppings and the collective body odor of the (often corpulent) average Fairgoer? There's the Scientology tent. There's Big Tex which is amazing if you are a preschooler or an Incan who has recently moved to Dallas from ancient times and are amazed by large gods who issue forth words and wisdom, such as the start time for the next equestrian show.

I can buy corn dogs at the grocery store. I can park for free in Exposition Park then set a $10 bill on fire 48 weeks out of the year. I don't ever need to see a Kellie Pickler or Jessica Simpson live set. I don't need to carry around plastic bags full of brochures about knives that can cut through soda cans or recipe ideas for what to do with leftover sausage. I scream and start to cry if a bird comes anywhere near me. I can go to the Science Place at a time when I'm not surrounded by kids touching everything with cotton candy hands. The temptation to try this year's version of Food That Shouldn't Be Fried But Is is not a temptation at all to me.

But Bell Biv DeVoe IS playing the main stage after the Grambling State game. I may have to sit down and have a serious think about this one.


Josh Campbell said...

I can't explain the fair to you. It is a dark and filthy place where children go to have the joy torn from their souls and parents go to test their ability to resist abandoning their children or committing suicide.

However, I did get my hair cut for free with a Flowbee in 1989 at the fair. That is still one of my fondest memories.

Anonymous said...

As a kid at a state fair I used a pay phone to call and ask the operator what color panties she was wearing. In reply she yelled "Who is this!?" and I answered "Do you like to fuck?" before gently putting the receiver down and running away.

I was paranoid for weeks afterward that she had traced the call and was going to call the police and that they would then get my fingerprints off the phone and have me arrested, thus humiliating my parents and me.

So the state fair can be fun for stuff like that.

tommysauras rex said...

pig races. no seriously. few things make me feel as carefree as watching pigs race.

Tom said...

We caught the BBD show on Saturday. You didn't miss much.
However, I'm a big fan of the fair. It's my annual chance to gorge on fried foods and people watch. Every year, I appreciate the history and architecture of Fair Park a little more. It's truly a gem.

Don in Austin said...

Nice blog, first visit.

People watching at the SF is almost worth the price of admission. Its better than the WalMart in Longview or the Alco in Monahans. What's even better than the rural and the income-deprived folks getting their Fair on are the yuppies gawking at them. I actually have rather enjoyed getting in touch with my inner PWT at the Fair, though I'm long removed from my own rural roots.

Best memory: took some out-of- towners and over by the big stage (Coca-Cola??)on the north side was an ocean of humans of hispanic descent. On stage in the far distance was some chica dancing and singing who was wearing a what looked like a bra on stage. I asked some teenager who it was and she replied in her best teen-idol worship voice, "Seleeeeeena."

Otherwise, your account of the SF is spot on. I still have my miracle towels from 1988. I hear the best beer prices are still in the indoor food court. Know your SF.

DAniel said...

I second don's assessment. Five words: Ruddy. Faced. Meaty. Forearmed. Rubes.

Other than that, spot-on. You forgot to mention interminable lines for some lousy curly-fries.