You couldn’t miss the sign. It appeared on the corner of the main intersection of town at least two weeks ahead of time. Huge red letters against a yellow backdrop announced that the fair was coming.
“Mmmmm… corndogs,” I thought to myself every time I drove by it.
I love corndogs, probably a little too much. I have a vivid memory of eating the best corndog of my life in my band uniform at the Strawberry Festival back in 1989. No kidding. By the time the fair arrived in our town, I was in a drooling, fever pitch of excitement to go to the fair for no other reason than to eat a hot, crispy, golden, breaded hot-dog-on-a-stick.
It’s been a tough summer and it doesn’t take much to please me.
A friend sent me a text and invited us to go with them to the fair. I tried to play it cool as I texted a reply.
“That could be fun. I’ll check with Hubby and get back to you.”
Inside I was thinking.. CORNDOGS! We have got to go to the fair. But wait, that’s our anniversary. Our 20th anniversary! We can’t go to the fair on our anniversary! After twenty years we should be taking a romantic trip to Paris or something. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s not like we were going on a trip anyway. Besides, fairs are romantic.. we can walk around with our hands in each other’s back pockets and he can prove his love by winning me a huge stuffed animal… and what about the ferris wheel? Romantic things happen on ferris wheels!! I have to convince Hubby that we should go to the fair!!
He said yes (one of the many reasons I love him) and we set the date for the fair.
The morning of the fair dawned bright and beautiful and Hubby had to go to a day-long inservice for work. He sent me a text in mid-morning.
Him: Mmmmm… I can’t stop thinking about fried dough.
Me: I know. Just a little bit longer, Honey.
He, of course, was referring to that other confection of fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar known as Funnel Cake.
We were way too excited about our Twentieth Anniversary Family Date Night at the Fair.
While waiting for Hubby to get home I considered creating some fair fashions to wear. It would be easy enough to rip the sleeves out of my husband’s t-shirts and make some cut-offs out of our good denim but I decided that wearing them in public might ruin everyone else’s good time so I didn’t. Instead I thought about fair food and drove to the bank to withdraw a large sum of money.
The afternoon stretched on for what seemed like an eternity and then it was time to go. After shelling out a mere $32.00 and 8 canned goods, we were in.
I heard Ricardo Montalban in my ear… Welcome to Faan-tasy Island!
Immediately I took note of the location of the concession stands and the convenient freestanding ATM machine in the middle of the grass. A little red flag popped up in my brain and warned that using an ATM at the fair might not be the best idea, but I brushed that thought aside. Desperate times call for desperate measures and fair food is expensive. If I had to risk having my checking account cleaned out for access to more cash for the fair, I’d do it in a skinny minute.
We decided it would be best to get the rides out of the way before pigging out on a bellyful of greasy carbs and headed across the midway.
That was a good decision. My son turned green on the very first ride, the Pirate Ship, aka The-Really-Big-Pendulum-That-Swings-Back-and-Forth-and-Goes-Really-High. My friend held him close and talked him through it as Hubby, Chickie, and I watched from the gate. It was terrible… and funny. We couldn’t stop laughing at him. I know that’s bad of us but he is a hooligan of the first degree and we rarely see him in such a subdued state.
Don’t feel sorry for him.
Next up the kids rode the Berry-Go-Round, which, of course, reminded me of the Strawberry Festival and, you know, corndogs. We caught glimpses of the kids as they spun berrily along and other riders, including the family in berry #2 who had the most depressed expressions as they twirled helplessly in their berry-shaped jail. I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t smiling. Didn’t they know what wonders lay ahead at the concession stand?
Everything was marvelous fun. We were children again as we drove like maniacs on the Bumper Cars with nary a worry about whiplash or chiropractors. We soared round and round on the swings in the warm night air, waving to the people below. Hubby and I held hands as we flew down the Fun Slide behind our kids on giant burlap sacks. He gave me a kiss over our son’s head at the top of the Ferris Wheel. It was romantic.
Finally, finally it was time to eat. We bought our dinner at the concession stand and found seats in the exhibition hall. We put the Bucket O’Fries and the Bucket O’Nachos in the middle of our group and commenced with the feast. I ate a footlong corndog with mustard.
It was everything I dreamed it would be… perfectly crunchy and golden, sweet and salty, and downright delicious.
I must say, happiness is… having a corndog in each hand. When my daughter didn’t finish hers, I ate it too, along with some french fries and as many nachos as I could stand. I reached into the cheesy abyss again and again only to find more and more layers of chips. Even with seven of us making a valiant effort, we couldn’t conquer the Bucket O’Nachos. I finally threw them away, wiped my hands on my pants, and washed everything down with a glass of lemonade. It was a fine anniversary meal. If I were a smoker I would have rolled up one of the prize-winning tobacco leaves on display and toasted the entire meal with a farm-fresh cigarette.
Everything took on a sort of hazy, out of focus quality after that and the thought of riding anything else made me want to absolutely vomit but we pressed on for the kids’ sake. They rode all their favorites again and went through the Fun House at least 10 times. When they had had enough we stopped for Funnel Cakes and Fried Oreos and ate them while watching the poor souls who thought riding “The Remix” was a good idea. It moved so fast and in so many directions, I half-expected to see one of the individual bucket seats fly off and catapult a rider into the adjacent cornfield. I felt everything being remixed in my tummy as I stood there.
It was time to go home. We spent our last $4 on a souvenir bag of cotton candy on the way out the gate.
I was sitting at the kitchen table the next morning, dejected, and suffering from what can only be described as a corndog coma, when my friend sent me a text.
J: I just walked by the cotton candy on the counter and started to throw up a little bit.
Me: I just ate a little bit of cotton candy for breakfast.
J: I am going to have to do an intervention.
Me: Do you think I could get past the gate at the fair and make a run for the concession stand? I just want one more corndog!
J: I’ll drive the getaway car.
Me: You are a true friend. I’ll get you one too!
Here I sit, loving wife and mother, responsible citizen and all-around good person, willing to stop at nothing for one more corndog. I ask you, what have I become?
I guess there’s a less savory side to the corndog.