There is nothing quite so disheartening as a county fair in rural upstate New York. Nestled in the beautiful hills in my county is a small fairgrounds with a simple “grandstand” (ironically named for its lack of grandeur) and a fireman’s barbeque building. The remaining grounds are usually bare.
For one weekend every year, however, the fairgrounds come to life and buzz with activity. The grounds become filled with midway games and concessions while the grandstand is filled at night for the demolition derby (featuring local heros who decide to put their lives at risk for bragging rights and a $300 prize).
It was the demolition derby that has drawn us to these same fairgrounds each of the last 3 years. After all, there is something about 10 or more cars in a series of collisions that makes a young boy smile from ear-to-ear, bringing us back year-after-year.
It is the culture of those watching the event with us, however, that makes me take pause. You see, to our right was a man complaining that we have a Nigerian for a president. To our left there was a woman talking with her high-school aged daughter about the party her daughter went to last night (with wisdom, she asked her daughter, “Really? Busch? How could you drink that stuff? Shit, I hope you were high.”) And there was the mother behind us who yelled at her (approximately) 4-year-old son, “What the hell!? Can’t you just sit still?”, then proceeded to complain about how uncomfortable she was after sitting on the same bleacher seating only three minutes later.
Then (of course) there was AJ, who had a wonderful time, focused, intently watching the derby. He was lucky; he was wearing ear-muffs.