Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Wristband

I am not too old to squeeze an impressive amount of value out of a carnival wristband.  This is the truth I learned this week when our State Fair returned to my hometown for its annual August visit and the kids came for their traditional opening-day trip there.

One of the pleasures of being Googie is that I get to buy the kids, during the week before the Fair arrives, a discount wristband at our local Walgreen's.  This little strip of paper adornment entitles them to unlimited rides for the duration of our adventure on the carnival midway.

Last summer I bought the bands for only Sooby and Pooh, since Bootsie, not yet two, was still too little to know all the fun she was missing.  But the problem was that Pooh fell a little short of the 36" height requirement for many of the rides that Sooby was more than tall enough for.  So I spent my midway time putting one on a ride, then the other, then returning to pick up first one and then the other in an intricately choreographed dance that kept me hopping all afternoon as I tried fervently not to lose a kid. 

This year, with the kids 6, 4 1/2, and almost 3, I could see that we would need a total of four wristbands.  To maximize the ride experience, it was clear that we would need an adult to accompany Bootsie, and often Pooh, on some of the rides where their little blonde heads backed up against the measuring sign and came up short.

So it was I who occupied the "swing" position when an adult was needed, sometimes with Bootsie and other times with both her and Pooh. As a result, I did five stints standing beside Bootsie's carousel horse and scrunched my long legs into more little trains and cars than I could count. 

As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that Sooby was casting a wishful eye at many of the more daredevil-type rides that only she met the height requirement for.  So there came the moment of parting when Pooh and Bootsie went off with their parents while Sooby and I spent the rest of the evening getting my money's worth--and more than I bargained for--out of my wristband investment.

In analyzing my evening's experiences, I have carefully identified several desirable changes in my behavior and record them here for next year's reference under the heading "Notes to Self":
  • Do not go into the house of mirrors.  The only way out is a two-story corkscrew slide that is not conducive to your body size and shape.  You should have noticed this before you went in instead of worrying about a claustrophobia attack.  The scab on your elbow serves as a reminder of your folly, and the way that man laughed at you explains a similar scab on your ego.  Let Sooby go alone all sixteen times next year.  She doesn't need you anyway. 
  • Do not ride in a bumper car with Sooby driving.  She nearly killed you more than once.  This is why even now, three days later, every bone in your body still throbs, and your neck and back still smart with whiplash.  Remember that when the announcer says, "Push down on the pedal and turn the wheel," Sooby does this with a motion that can be described only as "sudden" and "drastic."  Your old body was not made to spin in tight circles while being slammed into from every direction.  Use some common sense, and send the kid in alone.
  • Listen when the announcer says to take nothing with you on the white water log ride.   Remember how you had to hide your billfold down the back of your pants and stuff the candy apple under your T-shirt?  Sucking your gut in to hide the apple from the ride attendants does not optimize your comfort just before experiencing two drenching, death-defying plunges.  Next time, it would be better to leave all your stuff with a total stranger.  If that person decides to make off with all your personal belongings, you will still come out ahead.    
Next year, I resolve to be more generous.  Maybe I will give the extra wristband, if we still need one, to the kids' mama.  Wait a minute--what am I saying?  Next year, Zoomba will throw a barely-two-year-old into the mix. 

Make that five wristbands at $18.95 each.  That may sound like a lot of money, but, I assure you, this year's purchase was a bargain. 

It was priceless to hear Sooby cackle non-stop as she tried to maneuver our bumper car and to hear Pooh's exclamations, from the top of the ferris wheel, that the people and other objects on the ground looked "like toys."

Oh heck--give me the extra wristband.  Scabs heal with time, and candy apples do survive.            


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