Thursday, January 05, 2006

Where Did You Come From, Where Did You Go?

Hello, this is the starting chapter of the other idea I had for NaNo that didn't get a "vote" while I posed it to my friends. I am tackling it now because I need practice in third person. I would be thrilled to hear if anyone is interested in a second chapter.

* * *
The county fair is a fading tradition. In an age of industry, commerce, high rise buildings and strip malls, it is one few people experience now, and the ones who do are never appreciative of the things they are seeing. They’ve always seen it, they have known it since they were children. To them, it is a wholly unremarkable thing to attend a county fair. It always has been, it always will be.

It is not the fault of the folk who have never seen such a thing that they do not understand it. How can a person who lives in the city understand the miracle of a cow giving birth, when they have never seen one? How can they who have access to giant amusement parks and themed malls understand the excitement one feels at having the opportunity to ride a shoddily assembled novelty or purchase home made jams? One who lives in a loft apartment full of potpourri and scented candles will shirk at the thought of the stench of animals, hay, gasoline and fried onions- possibly one of the most beautiful smell combinations in the entire planet. None of these things will inspire a city dweller to make the trek to the country to experience them.

Nevertheless, a county fair is a wholly remarkable thing. It is a living breathing entity that balloons to life in the space of only a few days; and in the course of its short, riotous existence, effects the thousands of people who are lucky enough to experience its life cycle in profound and amazing ways. Beyond the wares, the excitement, the food and the scents, there is a particularly special way a fair may effect the person who attends it, if only they are able to see it.
A county fair, you see, can teach you everything you ever need to know about life. That is not to say that the secret to world peace is at the fair. You will not find the answer to your seven year old’s algebraic problems there. Nor will you discover a way to make more money for your company nor a reason to convince your wife not to purchase that ghastly Persian Rug she has been eyeing at Macy’s for the last month or so. However, there are still pertinent, life enriching lessons to be learned, and it is the firm opinion of this author that they are the most important lessons you will learn.

* * *
It is important to see this journey through the eyes of someone whom you can learn from. Someone special to this author, but, like you sir or madam, most likely, a wholly unremarkable person. A person of average intelligence and looks, one who has not had more or less education than you doctor, or you mother.

Imagine, if you can then, this unremarkable girl we are about to follow. If you look, in your minds eye, you can see her, in the house across the street from mine. In the second story of her little split level house, pulling on a pair of boots beneath her rather plain ensemble of jeans and a black tee-shirt. Her hair, you can see, is pulled back into a pony tail, and she is devoid of make-up. As she grabs the keys to her boring, mid-size car and dashes out the door you can see that she is much like you.

However, before we approach the destination she is driving to, it is important that in even seeing Jennifer (which is the name of this unremarkable girl) you can tell she has, in part, already learned the first lesson to be learned at the county fair.

LESSON ONE: FASHION - Always Dress for the Occasion

Jennifer arrives at her destination completely ready to head to the fair. Of course, one does not attend the fair alone. It is an experience to be shared, which is why she is picking up her good friend Molly, who possibly like you, has never in her life attended a fair. It is Molly’s apartment complex that Jennifer is now parking her car in, and Molly’s stairs she is skipping up quickly, taking them two at a time in her excitement.

"Come in! Its unlocked." Molly yells from the inside of her house, as Jennifer lowers her hands from her sharp knock at the door. "I am almost ready."

Stepping into the apartment with the familiarity of one who has visited often, Jennifer calls back to her loudly.

"You ought to be glad it’s me. What if it wasn’t?"

"Well, at least I would look nice, wouldn’t I?" this reply, coming from the general direction of the bathroom in the hall is punctuated with the appearance of Molly, who, as it has been mentioned before, and is telling in her dress, has never attended a fair of any kind.

Molly is the type of woman this author would expect to have never attended a fair. She is a lovely creature, with soft curling hair, and heart shaped face and a proclivity for perfumes and lotions that borders on some sort of psychological disorder. She bathes with something slightly more than regularity and slightly less than obsession. She does not cook for herself and has no ambition to do anything that will require her to return to her manicurist in less than the time is required for her to go back to have her nails refilled.

For this particular occasion she has dressed, in her mind, as her friend Jennifer has instructed her. She is wearing a short, rather revealing skirt with several layers of ruffles and a shirt that fits tightly and scoops low in the neck. In lieu of dressy shoes, she has opted for thick soled flip flop sandals and has scaled back her jewelry to one bracelet, and anklet, two rings and her standard earrings.

"I thought I told you to dress comfortably," objects Jennifer who eyes her friend with a wariness that implies she thinks her friend has forgotten exactly where they are going. Unfortunately, for both Jennifer and Molly, their ideas of comfortable are vastly different.

"I did." Molly replies, glancing down at her outfit critically. "Is it too dressy?"

"A bit," replies Jennifer with a standard bit of sarcasm, a tone this reader, like Molly, will learn to both expect and appreciate in time.

"Well, what do you suggest?"

"What am I wearing, you dope?"

"I don’t know, I thought you were dressing before you came."

"I did."

"I see." the distaste in Molly’s voice is indicative of her feeling for jeans, tee-shirts and Jennifer’s taste in clothing in general. "I should dress like I am going to get dirty then?"

"Yes, because you will."


At this time it is important that the reader, and Molly, be informed of the following pieces of information:

There is a large amount of dirt at the fair. Unlike amusement parks, where pimpled teenagers are underpaid to sweep sidewalks and change trash, fairs have large barrels that look as if they should hold crude oil or toxic waste which you will dump your trash into. They are changed once a day if it is a particularly nice fair, and as you might suspect, there are people who are less than eager to use these, and will toss the remains of their cigarettes, corn dogs and candies directly on the ground, where they will likely remain until they are picked up by a kind sole, or else stepped on or thrown out of the way.

There are also a large amount of animals at the fair. These animals will be housed in a particular area, however, being shown in various places on the grounds, they will likely track their feet, hay and other less than pleasant bits of muck around the grounds. These will also not be cleaned up unless very large.

In addition to the animals, there will be people, of all different persuasions, wandering about. Some will be less tactful than others. This means there is a risk of having food, ash, soda or other things dumped, spilled or otherwise involuntarily placed on your person. When you ride the amusement rides, there is no one to protect your dignity other than yourself, so if you wear less than practical clothing you are also likely to be gawked at in the least, and made fun of, hit on, or otherwise violated at worst.

There are no trams at the fair. No men in golf carts willing to transport you from one place to the other. There are no trains to give you a tour before you decide where to go. The fair will encompass no less than 20 acres. The fair always takes place in the summer, generally in what becomes the hottest week of the year, since Mother Nature herself isn’t one to mess with tradition. You will, as a result, spend a large portion of your time walking long distances, standing in lines and eating in sweltering heat with no instant relief from any of the conditions you have exposed yourself to.

As a result you can see why it is far more practical to dress as Jennifer has, in a pair of old jeans, sturdy shoes and a shirt she is not particularly attached to. Molly’s dress, while lovely and appropriate for say, a date to the movies, or a walk in a park with paved trails and a lot of shade, is not entirely practical. And, as comfortable as she may feel at the moment, Jennifer is quite right in suspecting that later in the evening her friend might be less than pleased with her should she not object to her dress at this time.

Since we have a moment, as Molly dashes back to her extensive wardrobe and picks out a far more practical selection, I would suggest, my dear reader, that you also pull on your most comfortable boots or running shoes, and a shirt you like but are not too fond of, and we will follow our two new friends to their next destination.


At 8:22 PM, Blogger SwissToni said...

That reminded me of going to Glastonbury! Have you ever read "Far from the madding Crowd"? By Thomas Hardy. I think there's a fair scene in there, and I might dig it out for the comparison.

I particularly liked the slightly odd narrative voice - the way we dipped in and out of having the narrator, to having more conventional dialogue to going back to the narrator filling us in. It's quirky but I think you made it work really well. I suppose the ultimate compliment is that I am interested to know where this story is going. Hopefully it doesn't join up with Crucifer's raven and maggots... that's not the kind of fair I think you should be taking a girl like Molly.


At 11:43 PM, Blogger Alecya Giovanni said...

ha! I won't I promise. Have you ever been to a real fair? A county fair? Thats why I wanted to write this, no one has ever been!

I'll add another chapter then, and see how you feel?

When are you getting round to posting, by the way?


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