The evening’s events snuck up on me. “Snuck up on me” as in my wife waited until the last minute to sit me down and say, “You’re not going to like this, but ...”
She was right. I didn’t like what she had to say; there was a street fair starting in about a half hour. Street fairs are full of things I’m generally uncomfortable around, like people. Lots and lots of people.
I am what is known to the general public as an introvert. To other introverts I’m known as normal, I guess. I’d probably know for sure if I ever asked one, but I can’t because we’re all in our respective homes with the shades drawn.
“It’s a family event,” she said, trying to sound as rational as she could under the circumstances. When she saw my expression, she broke out the heavy artillery. “We took the older kids.”
She was right.
We have two children in middle school and a 3-year-old. The 3-year-old was, hmm, how should I say this? A surprise? No. I never liked that term. People do the one thing it takes to make a baby then they’re surprised they make one? It doesn’t make sense.
I like to think of the 3-year-old as an ambush. She ambushed us. Seeing how her mother ambushed me with the street fair, I know where she gets it.
When our marriage was young, and so were our children, my wife and I took them to every fair, festival and parade in the multi-county area. Partly to pry the kids away from the television without looking like jerks, but mostly because if we didn’t buy anything, it was free entertainment. If Offutts are anything we’re cheap.
Our older children always had fun and learned about life from these small-town fairs, such as, parades mean it’s OK if strange people riding in the backs of trucks throw candy at you, horses poop a lot, and if the town’s small enough, shirts are optional.
We took the 3-year-old to the street fair, of course, despite my totally accurate “the girl will never know she missed it” argument. That only works for things my wife doesn’t want to do.
Street fairs present the following problems for me: they’re held at a time of year even breathing makes people sweat, there are enough parents I may have to talk with someone, and children’s music combined with the threat of clowns terrifies me.
After we arrived, our daughter wanted to do everything, and she did: ate free hot dogs, jumped in a free bounce house, petted free farm animals (although they were behind fences, so those last four words aren’t entirely accurate), and got free stickers we’d later find fused to the living room carpet.
But there was one line that looked like pictures of the Soviet era when people stood outside for bread.
“What is that?” I asked my wife, pointing into the palm of my hand so the girl wouldn’t see it.
“Shaved ice,” she said. “Forget it. I’d rather just pay the five bucks for some. I’m not standing in line for that.”
That’s when we went home, even before the free fair stuff was over. My wife can be awesome sometimes.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.