Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fair Play

I played hookey from work and took Aidan to the N.C. State Fair this afternoon. He was so excited to go. Even as we were pulling out of the driveway he said, "I think this is the happiest I've been since we moved here." I enjoy the Fair, too, in a weird, dissociated way. The food is good, and when it's not covered over in flashing lights and noise and closer to it's agricultural roots, it's even interesting.

The carnies always give me the creeps. There's something about the people who work fairgrounds that is off. Not the food vendors, they tend to be just-folks -- but the barkers and the ride operators . . . ugh. Men in their twenties who are so dissolute that they look like they're forty. Men who really are in their forties who have the same tough, leathery skin and glittery-glass look in their eye that I see in the homeless panhandlers. All of them with a studied pitch in their voice, full of urgency but no genuine fun. Thankfully Aidan seems oblivious to it; he just wants to throw darts and break balloons. I was glad that he looked over all the plush and plastic trash they gave away for prizes and found nothing at all he thought worth claiming. "Don't you want your prize?" they'd ask. He just had a blank look on his face, as if to say, "That's a prize?"

Five is a good age for the Fair. At five you can still enjoy yourself watching pig races, and eating a snow cone or cotton candy has an air of magic about it. And thankfully, the most interesting things to Aidan are still the least commercial. We spent a long time watching a blacksmith turn an old horseshoe into an ornately twisted hoof-pick, and after that we just sat by the lake and watched the geese feasting on apple-peelings from one of the vendors.

He knew his limit, too. "I think, after we see the animals, we should go home," he told me, as the sky was just beginning to get dark. They cranked up the lights on all the rides just as we were hiking back to the car, and it is a wondrous site to see ferris wheels in the semi-dark, neon mandalas towering against the sky. There is nothing important at a Fair, and I suppose that's just the point -- it's a conscious celebration of the superfluous.



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