29 September 2005

Short people may cause skin cancer

It was a clear fall day yesterday, so we decided to go over and check out The Big E, a multi-state fair with vendors from all over New England. The last time I was there, I was probably 12 and never left the games and rides at the Midway, so I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it.

Within five minutes of entering the site, I accepted the fact that I was not going to see everything. As I scanned the layout of buildings on the posted map, there was no regular pattern to it; it was a place you could get lost in. Cool.

"I want to see bears," I stated, pointing to a display fifty feet away. Having dispensed with the idea of choosing a route, we walked over, paid our dollars, and saw bears. Up close. Cute, fuzzy bear cubs: 1 playing with a toy and 2 zonked out; and a nine foot tall, 1400 lb. Kodiak named Jimmy gnawing on a treat in a separate compartment. I was glad to see the cages and bears were well kept.

After that we wandered through a huge building full of vendors of all kinds: Cutco knives, massagers, miracle mops, food containers, hammocks, whirl pools. There was no organization to the layout of types of products, so it was hard to process everything we breezed by. Outside more distributors and food vendors lined the walkways.

We rounded a corner and saw a stage surrounded by people. Someone was addressing the crowd, but we were behind the speakers so it was hard to make out and the side of the stage blocked our view. As we got closer, I realized the voice was difficult to understand in part due to its thick Spanish accent. In a truly surreal moment, the voice turned out to be Charo's.

After she finished her comedic banter, she introduced some salsa dancers and bounded off stage. The sun was in our eyes so we walked behind the stage to the other side to watch. Charo returned in a different very short sparkly dress and performed with her dancers. Even though this side was in shade, there were lots of picnic tables with their umbrellas up, so it was still hard to see. I walked around to the front and tried to get in the shade of the sound tent with no luck. It wasn't super crowded, but a bunch of short people were lined up in the shade of the tent. Standing in front of any of them would completely block that person's view. My straw hat was hanging on my back to be polite to the people behind me, so I was getting the full brunt of the sun on my right side. I started to expect a Roy Neary burn after another number.

I have to give Charo credit: she was really shaking her moneymaker. She's energetic, plays to the whole crowd, funny, and a talented classical guitarist. She also has a good sense of humor about herself. As she put it, "Cuchi-cuchi showed me the way to the bank."

During another dance interlude, Charo changed into a sparkly pink and white pantsuit so she could sit and play guitar. A group of young (and short) teenage girls were now standing in front of me. None of the short people in the shade had moved. There were a few spots one might have been able to crouch in front of them, but my knees are too shot to be comfortable doing that.

It suddenly dawned on me, I'm going to end up with skin cancer because I don't want to be a jerk. I glanced through the scaffolding behind me and decided if I was blocking anyone's view there was plenty of room for them to move. I put my hat back on angling it to block as much sun as possible. I started scoping the shady areas ahead, but still didn't have it in me to stand directly in front of any of the abundant short people. Just when I thought I couldn't take any more sun, the show was over, and the crowd disbursed after a standing ovation.

From there, we checked out the petting zoo: several goats, a llama, some zebu, ring-tailed lemurs, and a pony. I could've ridden an elephant or a camel, but they looked sad and it just didn't seem right.

Another building was full of farm animals: chicks and chickens, adorable piglets with their mama, more goats, rabbits, and another llama. The Clydesdales were more impressively large in person than they are on tv.

I took a stroll through the Midway for old time's sake. The prizes looked a little better, but the games are as difficult to win as ever. They had all the same rides plus a few bigger scarier ones.

We walked through the Connecticut and Vermont buildings, and saw a couple marching bands perform. It was dinner time and we decided to head out to a sit-down restaurant. As we neared the exit, I stopped.

"Is that the first building we went in?" I asked.


"I'll be back." We'd passed the machine that analyzes your personality from your signature earlier, and I'd decided to skip it, but now we were about to leave, I changed my mind. I knew somewhere at home, I still had the results from the same machine from when I was a kid. It seemed fitting to see if anything had changed. The multiple file cabinet sized computer with flashing lights also looked too much like EMERAC to pass up.

I knew it was by an entrance of the building, but didn't know which one of the six it was. Of course, I picked the longest possible way to get there because my feet were killing me. I wrote Claire, but it looked all wrong, so I grabbed another sheet, shook out my hands, and wrote my full name in one fluid motion. One of the three large women behind the counter fed the card into the machine and waited as it printed out the results on a dot matrix printer.

Televac says I'm "Always ready for a good time." Right on. If I can track down my young teen results, I'll put up the full results up for comparison.


  1. The Big E. God I *hated* it.

    But I would return to see Charo. I didn't even realize she was still ali-- performing.

  2. It's not really my scene either, but it was a really nice day to be outside, and it was something different to do. Once a decade would probably suit me fine. Charo totally made it worthwhile though.