Sunday, September 19, 2010

`A Scheme of Merriment'

With free tickets from school we went to the Puyallup Fair and effortlessly dropped a hundred bucks on parking, lunch and rides for the kids. Sherwood Anderson called the American country fair a “pagan outbreak” but if almost everyone’s a pagan where does that leave the rest of us? This was Snopes and Gudger country, superb for people-watching, with a notably high tattoo-to-human ratio.

While the boys rode bumper-cars the carny-in-charge played Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” My favorite t-shirt of the day showed a smiling Clark Gable-like visage pointing at the viewer, saying, “I drink to make YOU look good!” I talked to a man in the rabbit barn whose seventeen-year-old daughter has three rabbits entered in the judging. His grandparents owned an eighty-five-acre farm nearby and raised beef cattle and horses. He inherited the land, sold it off in parcels and lives on the remaining four. He works as a computer programmer. “It makes me sad to think about,” he said, leaning against a wall of rabbit cages.

My kids came home with bird whistles, the kind you fill with water and blow to annoy your parents. We saw a pumpkin that weighed four hundred thirty-two pounds and looked like it was molded from plastic. We saw a large woman seated on a bench and another embracing her. Both were crying loudly and without embarrassment. Samuel Johnson noted in The Idler #58:

"Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment."

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