I stood there in the wind waiting for two of the three kids we brought to the fair. They were on some ride with some ridiculous name. They were sitting in a kind of metallic egg on the end of a gigantic arm of a machinated octopus. And spinning. Spinning at the end of the arm while going in circles around the base of the thing. I was standing, trying not to get pick-pocketed and thinking about maybe putting my hood up. Was that rain or just someone spitting off the ferris wheel?
The guy running the ride wasn’t on any obvious drugs, not like the guys at the Himalaya … hello cocaine! Nah, this guy looked cold and bored.
But then along came the fun guy, another carnival worker who proudly shouted ‘I’m only nineteen!’ as he made sure everybody’s safety bar was locked into place.
He was obnoxious, flirting with the high school girls and shouting and high-fiveing the guys. The ride started up and I couldn’t stop watching him. It was a pretty great act. Again, not like the guys at the Himalaya, who shouted “Everybody scream!” and “I can’t hear you screaming!” and “Do you want to go backwards?” As if it were a recording on a loop.
This guy, mister nineteen, when people went by he went “RAAAAAAAA!” and scared them. He had every single person laughing as he (dangerously) chased after them with an inflatable hammer and tried to hit them. He pretended to high five the girls and then did the ‘psyche’ thing at the last second. It all fit in to the carnival atmosphere perfectly.
When the ride was over and the kids got off, they were practically climbing over each other to tell me about him.
“…and he was trying to give us a high five…”
“…and like, he like, said his name was mister awesome…”
“…that guy was cool huh?”
“…and he scared us…”
We were standing there waiting in the cold after the ride, because Ryan and his oldest boy had decided to go on the Zipper.
Dun dun duuunnn.
The Zipper was the kids’ arch nemesis ride this year. Last year it was the Ferris Wheel. And the oldest guy finally decided he wasn’t scared and he would totally go on it. But only if his dad came too.
We stood there, and I tried to keep the conversation about mister nineteen going so they would forget the wind and rain.
A group of cowboys walked past, fresh from the rodeo beer gardens by the smell of them.
“Hey guys, those are real cowboys!” I whispered in my best imitation of awe.
“REAL COWBOYS! WOAH!”
“Did they ride horses to get here do you think?”
The boys watched the leather jackets and cowboy hats walk by with wide eyes and slack jaws. The cowboys didn’t notice.
Ryan and the oldest boy showed up soon after and were surprisingly quiet about the whole Zipper thing. Luckily the other two had plenty to say about mister nineteen.
Ryan hung back and whispered to me that the kid had chickened out but didn’t want anyone to know. They just watched the Zipper and went on another ride instead.
At the end of the night when the park was closing, we headed to the car. A drunken cowboy and his tight-jeans-not-skinny-jeans-but-wranglers stopped us.
We stopped. I was suspicious.
The cowboy gave the kids a stuffed animal he won on the midway.
They still can’t shut up about it.