Tots, Blood, and a Broken Jaw

Yesterday, I went to the State Fair with my dad, who is my all-time favorite person to go to the Fair with. Going to the Fair with my dad is like going to Vegas with Paul Rudd’s character in the movie Knocked Up. Except, instead of ingesting hallucinogens and risking pinkeye, we ingest epic quantities of fried food, and beer, and risk death by Midway.

My love for the Fair goes back to my childhood. Growing up, the State Fair was the one event that could tranquilize my parents’ shit-storm divorce. Every time it rolled around, my folks were inexplicably on speaking terms again; in spite of the failed solar panel hot tub installation company, ensuing bankruptcy, and unpaid bills for my private art school education mom insisted on. For twelve summer days, we allowed ourselves to be one happy family.

My dad is big. Big hands, big nose, big lips, big gut. He makes loud, dirty jokes and he’s partially deaf in one ear. He likes to eat, a lot. So the first thing we did when we arrived at the fair was hunt for food. Thanks to claims of near-orgasm, I tried Axel’s Tots on-a-stick ($4.00). The potato balls, stuffed with sour cream, chives, cheddar and bacon are worthy of moans. I’ve tried a decent chunk of stick-food at this point, and hot damn, those tots are good! If it were me calling the shots, I’d hire a man to stand beside the Axel’s booth and sing their praises all day long.

My dad opted for the Walleye-on-a-stick ($3.50), which was predictably okay. Next, due to pure curiosity, (mine; my dad is a Bud man) we tried the wine ice cream ($3.00). At first, it tasted like eating ice cream on a hangover, but before you’ve brushed your teeth. Then, it tasted like nothing at all. Just a good dose of vanilla ice cream. No hint of wine, cardamon or plum, the other flavors it made claim to.

Because of the whole deaf-in-one-ear thing, when my dad says, "So, what do you want to do?" Everyone turns their heads. When we passed the radio show where the Governor was being interviewed, and he shouted, "Hey, Pawlenty! What’s up brother?" Governor Pawlenty’s security guards turned their heads. Getting my dad to the Midway was purely a selfish choice–drown his voice in the ruckus, and get him to buy the ticket value pack ($20.00), and indulge whatever plush toy winning game captured my fancy.

At the Midway, we played lots of games to no avail, then rode a ride called the Crazy Mouse. The carnies seemed extra drunk today, were missing more teeth, and the rides looked very unsafe in the gray-glow of yesterday’s stormy weather. One man in particular, working the pool table area, told my dad, "Aw, your daughter’s good looking, sir." Slurring his words, he then pulled me close and whispered in my ear, "I’m drunk, because I had surgery yesterday." I said, "Damn dude, sorry. Shouldn’t you be home?" He shook his head as if this were the most ridiculous question. "Someone punched my jaw out," he said. "See this?" He pointed to his jaw. "All swollen." He gave my dad an extra turn on the house, so he could finish his story.

The Crazy Mouse is a yellow roller coaster, where little circular cars loop around the track, spinning around while flying up and down the coaster. My dad and I shared our four-person ride-car with a brother and sister, ages six and nine. My nearly-300-pound dad, making his scary-face, leaned over and said to the little boy, "Hey son, you know why that car ahead of us is red? Because someone died on this ride, and that’s where his blood splattered!" The little kid shot back, "I’m not scared. I went on this ride last night. In the dark." This kid’s my new favorite person.

Impossible to ignore were the people at the Fair. I saw a girl of eighteen, in full goth regalia, wearing a murdered-out baby-tee that read on the front: "Abortion is Homicide," and on the back, "No one can quiet my God."

I saw a petite, elderly couple making their way around the Fair on matching Segway Personal Transporters. And I saw a number of god-awful tattoos. Among the bad tattoos of the day were a tiny rose, a tiny butterfly, lots of tribal, a tiny leprechaun, and a big portrait of a tiger that looked like a yellow lab with stripes. What specifically made most of these tattoos so bad was their blatant disregard for the laws that govern negative space.

When an obese man has a tattoo of a leprechaun raising his top hat on his right bicep, and the leprechaun is the size of my pinky, it makes the man look bigger. Now, I’m not knocking tattoos or making fun of fat people. But I am knocking the popularity of the tiny tattoo. Mother of four from Wayzata, that rose on your ankle looks like skin cancer. I know you got it to celebrate the big 4-0, and good for you, honey. But just because it is tiny, doesn’t make it "safe." It makes it stupid. Your PTA friends will still notice it, and judge you, and call you a whore behind your back, even if your tattoo is tiny. Someone tell everyone that small, oddly proportioned tattoos look awful.

Highlight of the day? Buying my pit bull a kelly green bandana that says, "Don’t Taze Me Bro!" And getting to spend the whole afternoon at the Fair with my dad.