I know I usually keep to a certain chronological order in my Dispatches, but last week was such a rollover with entrapment that things got all jumbled up as I ran from event to event with clothes to change into shoved in my eco-friendly grocery bag with a paperback and some sunscreen.
So I'm a little mixed up.
Last week was the Tioga County Fair. Having learned my lesson last year, I steadfastly refused to sign up for ambulance standby for the rodeo, since one year of diving sideways to keep bull poop out of your french fries and arguing with a 90 pound cowboy who got stomped on by 1,800 pounds of angry beef that he should really go to the hospital, but he ain't, 'cause he has to be in South Carolina in the morning and he ain't got no insurance anyhow and you can't make him and then spending an hour cleaning the mud that the driving rain brought into the ambulance while you stood there getting soaked for no good reason as all his buddies tried valiantly to explain 'Hey-ow we AY-re and it ain't personal' is really one year more than anyone needs in a lifetime.
So naturally, I signed up for the monster truck show and the truck demolition derby and the figure 8 race. Because the potential for messy and potentially dangerous situations was a lot smaller there.
More to the point, no poop.
Before I get to all that though, I need to talk about the guy above. I want to talk about him first because much of this post will engage in gentle mockery of humans I'd lovingly classify as 'yokeltards' and I in no way wish to imply that Big Tiny is mockery material. Because Big Tiny is awesome.
He's been at our county fair for all of the three years I've been here, and he can play any song you can name. He's a great singer, his repertoire is vast, and he has a bitchin' synthesizer. I stumped him, though, by requesting this song.
He could play it, make no mistake, he just couldn't remember the words. So like any self-respecting fan with this song on my iPod, I got it out of my purse, popped in my headphones, sat down on the steps of the ambulance, flipped over a Patient Refusal of Treatment form, and wrote out the lyrics for him. By hand. I didn't get to hear him sing it, but I have to believe that I added a bit of additional musical enjoyment to the Big Tiny Young Show for the countless other Statler Brothers fans that will cross his path. Godspeed, Tiny.
At one point during the fair I started to worry that I would forget some of the things I witnessed. So I got out a pen and a little notebook and started to write things down. Some highlights:
Man on cellphone in the 4H tent: "Yes, yes! I see them! I'm standing in front of them right now! What? Well, yeah. Yours are bigger but hers are yellower. Like how much? I don't know. Yellow, like, 20% yellower. Well, just come down here and see them your damnself then. I don't know what to tell you." (Apparently the squash competition is ruthless.)
Woman in giant black pants with chains all over them, with dyed black hair, a trucker hat, and a black t-shirt and a lip full of metal, who was explaining loudly to a friend that she was going to kick someone's ass because they were staring at her.
Young woman in yellow dress, black fishnet stockings, and yellow shoes who was not part of any organized dance troupe or other street performance that I could see.
Large woman in an ill-fitting brown and white t-shirt that declared her a 'World Class Farter'.
Lots of boys with faux-hawks. Same boys trailing a vapor cloud of Axe which almost but not quite covered the faint odor of animal dung, various on their shoes. I suspect these boys were allowed to come to the fair "if and when" they got their chores done, and said chores were accomplished in record time and they moussed and sprayed themselves and headed out.
The elusive HFG, or Hot Farmer Guy. I caught a glimpse of exactly two. Tan, tiny waist, huge shoulders from lifting hay bales or whatever HFG's do all day, hat that isn't an ironic fashion statement because they gave it to him with his keys when he bought the tractor. Sunglasses. Boots. The other one, later in the evening, was wearing immaculate jeans and cowboy boots and a black cowboy hat and he was ROCKING the outfit. Bless your hearts, gentlemen. Please keep all your teeth.
Walking around, I had two epiphanies.
Revelation one: I really don't want to be that intimately acquainted with my milk. I LOVE milk. I love cheese, I love sour cream, I love all things with either the words cream or cheese in the name (except cottage cheese, which reminds me of baby sick) BUT I don't need to sit at a picnic table eating onion rings and watch the milk COME OUT OF THE TEATS into the hose that goes to the milkhouse, with the veins and the noise and the whatnot. I like my fish in sticks, my lobster bisqued, and I just want to scoop up that white plastic container that costs about the same as a gallon of gas, put it in my cart, and not think about it.
Revelation two: I'm afraid of large farm animals. Yes, afraid. Every year I force myself to walk through the beef barn at the fair, forcing myself to deal with the anxious breathing thousands of pounds of insensate potential crushing death placed shoulder to shoulder with strangers and small children prone to making sharp loud noises milling around behind them causes me. What keeps them in that little aisle? What keeps them from killing us all? Worse yet, I strolled through there with the taste of a recently enjoyed roast beef sandwich still in my mouth. It was the most intense whore in church feeling I've ever experienced.
The evening passed uneventfully, with the obligatory allergic reaction (kudos to the wise parents who allowed a kid who was allergic to horses PET THE HORSES, the gene pool clearly has a rip in the liner) and no serious injuries, though I had to throw my funnel cake on the dashboard of the ambulance and run across the dirt track to see to the monster truck that rolled over. Nothing ever happens on the track close to where we are parked, ever, and it was a delightful flashback to gym class to haul my considerable mass over a deeply rutted and potentially ankle-rolling expanse of mud in front of a grandstand crowd only to have the guy self-extricate and give everyone the Nixon-fingers to clapping and cheers. The only truly hair-raising moment was using the port-a-potty at the edge of the track while the demo derby was going on. As I hastily concluded negotiations inside I scanned the walls for something I could hang onto in the unlikely event that my comfort station might be rolling down the hill behind an '89 Astro with no brakes and 'BOB'S AUTO PARTS' spraypainted on the side.