Funniness Negates Wrongness
Friday, April 11, 2003
I was recently talking to a friend of mine who attends the University of Dallas, a Catholic university not in Dallas, but rather the city of Irving. They were telling me about an event coming up this weekend on the Mall (a total misnomer, as there is no Gap or Orange Julius or Things fact, no stores at all) at the University called The "Lazy Fair", which, in that way that only pretentious liberal arts-type people can muster, is a play on the French "laissez faire", which means something like "hands off". Maybe "laissez fair" should be the motto of altar boys.

The Lazy Fair was described to me as something akin to a cheap county fair, well-stocked with face painting, dunking booths and those Moonwalk/Jupiter Jump air-filled things that you tend to bounce around in. To me, this sounded like a really lame cheap county fair. As if there are county fairs that aren't lame. Even if, by some miracle, a spider web in the livestock area were to amazingly proclaim "SOME PIG" or "TERRIFIC" above a particularly fine-looking, freshly washed-in-buttermilk swine, I think it would still be a pretty lame county fair.

I don't think I've ever actually been to a real county fair. Our county growing up was lame and didn't have one of its own. Instead, we had to share a fair with the rest of our area--the East Texas Fair. I imaging that this was a lot like a regular county fair, only a lot bigger. Being bigger, it automatically invoked "Euler's Exponential Lameness Theorem", which basically states that for every time the size of a fair doubles, the lameness quotient (a complex expression of lame-osity) increases four-fold. (Leonhard Euler formed this theorem in 1723 after attending the Basel-Stadt, Switzerland Fair with Johann Bernoulli).

The East Texas Fair, held every September, was eagerly awaited by schoolchildren all over the area. Up until around the Fourth Grade, every kid received a ticket for free admission to the Fair from some charitable organization. Invariably, to minimize loss of revenue, the Fair people made sure that these tickets were valid only on certain nights when it would be unlikely that parents would want to take their kids to the Fair--Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Not Friday night when everyone wanted to and could go, but the first three nights of the week. No one wanted to go to the Fair on these nights. The kids didn't want to go because they'd have to leave early in order to get to bed for school the next morning, while the parents didn't want to go because they had to go to work in the morning and didn't want to be out too late.

The East Texas Fair, like many fairs, has two parts to it: the carnival area and the more tradition fair area. As a kid, you're not interested in the livestock and canned fruit competitions that the fair part offered, you're more interested in the carnival part. You'd beg and beg your parents to buy you a bunch of the tickets required to ride the rides. The more fun the ride, the more tickets it cost. At the time, nothing was more fun than riding these rides--it was like having a poor man's Six Flags in our own little burg. In retrospect, these rides were probably a hundred-thousand times more dangerous than anything Six Flags could ever dream up. Whereas Six Flags' rides more or less stay put after they're built, the carnival rides are disassembled and reassembled at least fifty times a year. Sooner or later, someone was bound to forget a cotter pin or a screw or a safety cable. The rides seemed to be extra dangerous with lots of poorly greased moving parts and areas where you could easily pinch a finger or two off. I think the people that ran these rides were scarier than the actual rides. How does one fall into that lifestyle? Moving about week after week, hauling around a semi whose trailer converts into a "Fun House" (a total misnomer. These were rarely fun) or lame "Haunted House" (if these were indeed haunted, then it was by the ghosts of kids killed on the rides). Then there was the midway. Lame games fixed so that the house nearly always wins. Ring toss, milk bottle knock-down throwing thing, sharpshooting, etc. These always seemed to be invariably manned by people who were one step away from pedophiles. For example, they'd try to lure you in with candy, stuffed animals and other toys--tools of the child molesting trade. Add to that the somewhat shady nomadic lifestyle that they lead and I'm sure more than a few were wanted for questioning by the FBI or interviews to fill vacant positions by the Catholic Church. I think the only appeal of being a carnie would be the unlimited supply of funnel cakes and turkey legs. That, and getting to know lots of deformed people.

The other part of the Fair was the livestock part. This always seemed odd to me. How did anyone decide that parading through a barn of cattle and their droppings to admire udders was a good idea? Only hick farmers would find this exciting, but for some reason as a really young kid, my parents always took us through this part. Why? We lived in suburbia. We had no livestock. The only animals we owned were a cat and a dog---hardly livestock, unless you're Korean. I like to think that maybe my parents took us through there as a warning. "This is what will happen to you if you don't get an education: You will have to raise farm animals for a living. Every morning, you will have to get up at 4:30 and fondle cow teats to make milk come out into a bucket. Then you'll have to go to the henhouse and pick up chicken period." I've mentioned this before, but it still "ooks me out". Who had the bright idea that eating the estrus residue would be a good idea? I'm not complaining--I happen to like scrambled eggs and the occasional omelet, but I didn't come up with the idea either. I just try not to think about what it is while I eat it. These are only a few of the bad things that farmers endure. They also have to contend with getting run over by a combine, snagging their shirt sleeve in the tractor's engine, grain silos exploding and falling on a pitchfork in the hay loft. Every day I thank someone up above that I was able to get an education and not have to be a farmer. (The real ironic thing about that is that I attended Texas A&M University--a school that was originally conceived to teach and improve agricultural methods and techniques...lucky for me, it's expanded into other fields in the last 128 years.) At any rate, I've decided that I like living in the safe, bovine-free confines of the city. Green Acres is not the place for be. Farm living is definitely not the life for me.