It's spring in New England, which means that carnival season is upon us.
I have never encountered this phenomenon in other places I have lived--one carnival after the next, often every weekend, in a new town each time. They must make a killing. And of course, it's not one carnival after the next, it's just one carnival, moving from place to place.
Where I come from, I waited a whole year for this stuff (yes, and I walked 10 miles to school in my bare feet). We'd hop on the bus to the San Mateo County Fair (and Floral Fiesta!), which I now understand is called the "Peninsula Festival", probably to attract all of those inappropriately wealthy families who moved to the area after it became known as Silicon Valley (I know, hard to believe it wasn't always Silicon Valley, but it obviously wasn't). Because if they knew that it was 4-H contests, carnies, and slice-o-dice-o-matic displays, they might not come. I mean, get a load of the new logo:
Do YOU see any corn dogs, goats, or unshaven men in droopy pants in there? No, I thought not. No, no, and no. This year you can visit the "Usable Future Pavilion", devoted to "Sustainable Living and New Technology", featuring a "green vending village". Ooh! "Mom! Mom! Can we skip the Tilt-a-Whirl and check out the fair trade organics section instead? Puleeeeeeeeze?" (See what I mean?)
I know. You can argue the semantics. Well, there are Carnivals. And then there are Fairs. And then there are Festivals. Yeah, whatever. Rides? Yup. Rob-you-blind-arcade-games? Yup. Crappy food? Yup. Carnies? Yup. Hoardes of maurading teenagers trying to upstage one another by going on the most nausea-inducing ride? Yup. 'Nuff said.
Fine, so the ones here are not "Festivals". Fine.
No, back here in good old New England, you can easily go to a Fiesta Shows carnival oh, probably fifteen times between May and September (if you so wish, that is). And today, as we passed Woburn on the highway, I heard the long-awaited words emanate from my 9-year-old's mouth. "What is THAT?". And of course, she knew what it was. And so did I, despite the fact that I successfully transport myself into a blissful state of carnival amnesia every winter.
It is the place where you can jump on bungee cords, that's what it is. Vertical Reality, they call it. That's what she's into. In a big way. Vertical Reality. (Me too, but mine involves getting myself out of bed into a vertical position and standing in front of a sink or a washer/dryer combo. Not quite as exciting.) She doesn't much care about anything else at the fair/carnival/chaotic-scary-place. Just the bungee jumping thing. It has been a mainstay of our summer life for the last several years, especially once she mastered flips. And so we go. Even though the Vertical Reality thing doesn't take ride coupons. Figures.
So, we went. She jumped. We rode through the silly haunted house and faux-screamed. We went down the huge slide (twice--that was genuinely killer fun). We won a stuffed penguin (with an investment of only one dollar! Hah!). Had a little bit of awful food. It got dark, and it started to have the feeling (according to Phoebe) of one of those places where you don't want to be separated from your parent even for a second because "somebody might take me". Don't say you don't know what she means. And we left.
But before we left, I saw something disturbing. Fiesta Shows, you've let me down. Big time.
Here's what I saw (as we stood and ate one-quarter of a fried dough before we threw it out because it just wasn't very good at all, which is such a shame for such a potentially-full-of-deliciousity item).
I bet you're wondering...What? So it's a picture of a french fry booth and some steal-your-hard-earned-cash games. So? Click on the picture. Make it big. Now look. Do you see it? Check again. I'll wait.
Are you back? Did you see it? Look again. Right there on the window of the French Fries (and other assorted fried goods) stand. "No Trans Fat".
I'm still laughing three hours later.
"What did you eat at the carnival, honey?"
"First I had a corn dog, one of those baskets of french fries that weigh more than your head, and an Icee. After we went on rides, I had fried dough with enough powdered sugar to make you think it was snowing out, and cotton candy. Oh, and then I shared some pizza with Dan before we came home. But Mom, I didn't have any trans fats!!!"
I guess we'll just call this New England's nod to the "Usable Future Pavilion". This and that
Prius parked in one of the front spots in the parking lot that you can see from the top of the ferris wheel that looks like it might plunge to earth any second.
"Look, Mom! It's the future!"
"Yeah, cool. You want a corn dog?"
Next weekend, it's in Westford.