Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Forge of Memory

The State Fair dominated the week, beginning with the parade on Saturday morning, ending with the way-past-bedtime stroll through the midway Friday night. I grew up going to the Iowa State Fair (as well as various county fairs), and now, decades later, the best bits are pretty much unchanged. The Tilt-A-Whirl (the girls ran to hux afterward yelling "Daddy didn't puke!" which would make an excellent tee shirt). Six separate rides on the bumper cars. Corn dogs and funnel cakes. Sheep and cows and roosters and petting zoos, yada, yada, yada.

The memorable piece came at the very end, and was memorable primarily for what did not happen. Friday night was packed, and the line for the bungee jump was long, so we saved it for the very end. Took over an hour to get to the front, and you'd expect that to be a recipe for full tilt whining and are-we-there-yet level boredom. And yet. The bungee jump itself was almost an afterthought. Three girls were in front of us, and our girls talked and played with them the entire time. It helped that the eldest was fourteen, making her a Rock Star in the eyes of our own girls. Helpful as well was the summer night, the hint of the coming fall in the air, the bright lights of the midway, the flirting teenagers, the smell of the corn dogs and the funnel cakes, the clamor of the sideshows and the crowd and the creaking machinery. They all conspired to push the moment out of the ordinary, into the bright alchemical forge of memory.


Sabra said...


Makes me want to take my teenager so he can flirt and forge a memory....

Clowncar said...

Hey Daisy. There's a great old Rickie Lee Jones line about "you never know when you're making a memory."

Sadly, my girls will never be allowed to flirt. Or date.

Margaret said...

The best job I've had (so far) was working the corn-dog stand at the State Fair. We were right next to the hypnotist's stage. After closing, we got funnel-cakes from a neighbor booth. gGod it was some fun.

You went bungee-jumping?!
Forgive me; this is not an after-thought.

The last two sentences WIN. so. much.

meno said...

Geez dude, way to write. I love your title!

slommler said...

What a wonderful evening!! And you describe it so artfully! One question though? How was the bungee jump? I would have been terrified and my line couldn't be long enough! Ha!

Laurita said...

Your description of the evening is superb. I feel like tagged along. And those photos are awesome. What a great way to end the summer. I bet your girls will not forget it.

Sabra said...

You gave me Fair cravings. I could go rent that movie where Judy Garland ( is it?) goes off to the fair, but instead, I visited one of my favorite blogs and went to the fair with her. For anyone else who's jonesing for a Fair-fix, check out:

You'll smile, you'll sigh, you'll feel as though you were there.

Sarah Sometimes said...


Fresca said...

I wonder what your girls will remember.
My sister and I don't remember the same things at all.

It intrigues me, what emerges from the forge of childhood?
Some vivid memories of ordinary things--my mother offering me figs off a wicker plate when I was about three--all jumbled up against extraordinary things--accidentally killing a baby chick when I was about two.

Clowncar said...

Corn dogs and hypnotists, Margaret? Sounds like the perfect job. And the bungee jump was a) from 6-7 feet in the air and 2) with a trampoline beneath you. Not nearly dangerous, or scary, as bungee jumping from, say, a bridge.

Thanks, meno. I like the title too.

Sue Ann, see my answer to Margaret above. It wasn't as scary as the phrase "bungee jump" makes it sound.

Laurita, thank you. Those aren't my photos, though. I grabbed them from Creative Commons, and when I went back to try and attribute them, I couldn't find them again. So thanks to whoever took them.

Daisy, that is a great blog post. Love that first place ribbon stuffed in the back pocket.

Thank you, Sarah.

Hey Fresca. I bet the kids won't remember this night, but we will. We saw a kid puke after he got off the Tilt-a-Whirl; if they remember anything from the night, it'll be that. My first memory is of a hubcap flying off our car. Shiny and loud. As clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday...

Hilary said...

Beautiful photos here.. and some fine prose. I think "Daddy Didn't Puke!" would have even made a great post title. ;)

Clowncar said...

See, Hil, now you're just making me feel more guilty about those photos without attribution. I didn't take them, and as hard as I try I can't find the site I stole them from to give proper attribution. I hope blogger karma doesn't come back to bite me in my virtual ass.