Fair-n-Height

It’s not that I’m opposed to onion rings, I just object to spending over ten dollars for five of them. Six, if the little one counts, which it does not.

Who does that?

The fam took it’s yearly pilgrimage to the county fair this week and I want to start by saying that I had a firm grip on reality this time.

This is how the fair looks in my fantasy world:

 

And this is how the fair really looks:

help

Screaming, while they shake money out of your pockets.

The fair is not my favorite.

I make everyone begin at the barns because, chickens.

All about the attitude, baby.

All about the attitude, baby.

We said hello to Scooby Doo and Scrappy.

We said hello to Scooby Doo and Scrappy.

Mooove over, honey, I need a nap already.

Mooove over honey, I need a nap already.

My favorite flavor of fair.

The kids ran off (there are perks to them getting old enough after all) as Hubby and I wandered through endless displays of What We Need to Buy Immediately.

We needed massage chairs and wooden plaques carved with our family crest and oysters holding pearls and grooming brushes for dogs we don’t have and new cooking pans and a Vitamix blender which we do have and fancy humidifiers and elk jerky and Russian nesting dolls and a jacuzzi and glass bead jewelry and a rubber ball that splats flat on the ground and magically reforms into a sphere while you watch and it’s only four dollars and we should buy one for everybody because that’s pretty cool.

But we didn’t.

Because we had a plan.

The kids rejoined us when they saw us stride towards the edibles, which took some doing considering the sheer volume of humanity standing in lines, shrouded in thick smoke from the turkey leg tent.

Healthy food…at the fair? I don’t think so. I can eat corn at home.

Fair thee well, figure.

The onion rings were first, because this is California and not Louisiana and we deep fry our veggies, not our amphibians.

As mentioned, they were over ten bucks.

We each got one.

We proceeded to buy the foot-long-hot-dog-on-a-stick which measured from your elbow to your wrist, with the stick reaching beyond your fingertips. Everybody cut off a portion and tried the recipe, sauces on the side.

Next up was a half pineapple, hollowed out and filled with rice, pineapple chunks and teriyaki chicken. It was gone in a five minute furious fork fight.

Cinnamon roll smothered in cream cheese frosting was an obvious choice and then we broke down and got the deep fried cookie dough because we are only human.

The chocolate drizzles tipped us over the edge.

We staggered around in the fine arts building until the pain dissipated.

You’re wondering by now…what about the carnival? The million-lightbulbs-on-a-stick machine that screams, “Throw your money away here! Win a giraffe the size of your mama! Climb into a rickety contraption held together by paper clips and run by a teenager who hasn’t slept in days because this party never ends, even after the fair shuts down!”

Not gonna happen. If I want to risk my life by launching into space in a ball slung from a giant rubber band, I won’t be doing it after eating what we’d just consumed.

This is the Fair in 4D.

messy

jump2

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Somewhere between the hypnotist, the rock band, and the tilt-a-whirl I ran out of steam.

I started looking up and away from the frantic reality and there was my fantasy, waiting patiently for me.

heaven2

carousel

candy

And my fam couldn’t pull me away from the scream zone until my priceless souvenirs were tucked away safely in my memory.

The Christmas Shopping Coma

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly…Fa La La La La La La La La!

Now that you are in the department store elevator with me, let’s chat.

Because it will take my mind off the numbing fog of whirlwind Christmas preparations. Maybe I’ll just rest my forehead on this sterile tinsel-free elevator wall for a moment while you talk.

How are you coming along with your Christmas list? If I really had my life pulled together, I would have finished mine in August. If I left Hubby in charge, he would be cheerfully racing through the malls on Christmas Eve without a budget, buying random and completely unsuitable gifts.

My reality falls somewhere in the middle, but it is never pretty.

Did you find a parking spot? On Mars? I out-waited three other cars for a space near the front and I fully intend to sell it to the highest bidder when I’m done here.

I walked in on the bottom level which was a big mistake. The line to see Santa snaked around the corner and the screaming limp children were torturing their whimpering limp parents.

People pay to do this.

I didn’t even reach my first store before I fell into my Christmas shopping coma. It happens every year about this time. I look like a sincere and cheerful shopper but I am actually sleeping with my eyes open.

Here’s my proof.

Our mall boasts a three story Target. Three. Stories.

This means they have escalators in there that take you and a cart full of stuff you don’t need but are buying anyway up and down all night.

It feels exactly like you’re in an airport. Which is fine. If your flight is cancelled, everything you need to live on is in there.

I had my daughter with me and we were heading down the down escalator while my own sister, who works there, was riding the other escalator up.

I looked her right in the face and she smiled at me as we passed, two ships in the night. Her smile dissolved into a puzzled frown just before she disappeared into the second floor.

My daughter waved and tossed out a quick “Hi!” as we dropped to the first floor.

Then she turned to me and said, “Mom? Why didn’t you say ‘Hi’?”

I leaned over and whispered, “Sweetie, I don’t know who that is.”

After some extreme eye rolling and patting me on the head, she left me to wander aimlessly while she dashed off to the food court.

My sister will understand. My daughter will check me into an old folks home.

It’s just that I find the frantic holiday push a little too…pushy. And my coma is a subconscious buffer zone.

There’s only one year in my memory that I joined the ranks of the frenetic and loved every minute of it.You can blame it squarely on Starbucks.

My children are all bigger than me, faster than me, and even, if you can believe it, bossier than me now. But when I was at the top of this food chain, I dragged my feet putting up Christmas.

It just feels harsh to jump directly from giving thanks for what we have to writing up all the stuff we suddenly want.

Plus, it’s a lot of work.

So, the first week of December was almost gone and everyone was wondering why Mom was still not in full Christmas mode. Where was our tree? Why were the ornament boxes still in the garage?

The neighbors have had lights up for a month for crying out loud.

Hubby and I had a date night. We went out to a movie and then over to Starbucks for dessert. I had recently discovered the joy of gingerbread lattes and treated myself – why not – to a venti.

That’s Italian for “we just put three shots of espresso into your veins”.

Which at the time, I didn’t realize.

An hour later, I was higher than a kite on caffeine and the whole world just glittered. I imagine that’s because my eyeballs were jittering in their sockets.

The family was in bed when I first eyed the Christmas stuff.

I was putting the finishing touch on a triumphant nativity set when I noticed the time.

Three in the am. Boom!

Every single holiday item we owned was on display. The family woke up to a winter wonderland.

And this, my friend, is why my comforting little coma will remain.

It keeps me solidly between Grinch and Tasmanian Devil.

Black Eye Friday

If you have been up since midnight today, you have my deepest sympathy.

There’s not one thing I want bad enough to trade sleep for. Neither is there a bargain so great that I’m willing to risk a black eye over it. It’s all yours.

But on my list for later is a lingerie shop. Somewhere in the back, between the perfume and the silk stockings, they must sell what I’m looking for: a hairnet.

Because nothing lights up my Hubby’s eyes like a fat lady in a hairnet handing out free samples.

I suppose you’re a fan of Costco too?

It’s the only place he goes on Black Friday. He could get any of this stuff online. And there’s always a line outside the door, not just today. They always have deals. In bulk.

Last year he filled a cart and two flats with stuff. Simply because he could. He was like a kid in a candy store. All the impulse shopping he could do and no regrets.

“This place is great!” he cries constantly, “You can return anything. Any time!”

And we did. Over the next few weeks, it almost all went back. But boy did he have fun.

Here’s my little rant, and feel free to disagree. Costco is ridiculous.

You will never walk out with just what was on your list. And what was on your list, you must buy in vast amounts. So your budget…yeah, creamed.

But if Costco sells it, Hubby will buy it. My only hope for ever getting new furniture or a blender or diamond jewelry is if they sell it. Vacations, clothing, tortillas and backpacks, you name it. Hubby is positive that Costco has done all his research on a product for him. Costco will add their own warranties to products and let you return that crusty used toaster for a full refund.

Even if you threw away all the packaging and you’re dragging it by its cord.

Even if the receipt is stuck to the bottom of your trashcan with maple syrup.

Even if the melted pop tart is still fused into a slot.

Because that’s the kind of customer service we’re talking about, by George, and that’s five stars by him.

I’m horrified. Straight up. That he would even try a stunt like that.

And Costco is enabling this behavior.

He loves to go there on his lunch break during the week. He feels like he gets a cheap meal that comes with a floor show. You can sit down and eat a hot dog with a Coke and watch the most random people buying the most random items.

But first, he works the building and visits the hairnet ladies.

There is stiff competition for the free samples around the store. He spars with an elderly man over a quarter of a cheeseburger. He pushes in front of a lady’s motorized shopping cart to get his taste of rolled taco bites.

When the family of four starts taking more than one sample each, he has to reach right between them and snatch his fair share of chocolate covered pretzels.

But when the bacon lady is ready to pull out her next batch of hickory smoked kibble, you’d better believe he maneuvers to be first in line. And even that isn’t a guarantee he’ll get one. Scalded fingers and burnt tongues are a small price to pay for your share of tasty goodness.

Sadly, our sons are also learning to love a lady in a hairnet.

I stand aloof, my back to the sock displays, and watch with unabated horror. I act like I don’t know my own family and only make eye contact to silently shame them into stopping.

“Don’t take the sample!” my eyes plead, “we aren’t going to buy that. It’s not right. Why are you fighting for something you don’t need?”

But the siren song of the hairnet ladies overrides my calls for composure and they flit helplessly from cart to cart, only bypassing the ones handing out Ensure and chia seeds.

It’s nice to know that Hubby would leap tall buildings in a single bound if only I wore a hairnet and was handing out bacon bits.

So I guess my shopping list is much smaller than yours. Wake me up when it’s noon.