Summer is only a few weeks old and already we are heavily into State Fair training. On a hot weekday afternoon we battled the sweaty crowds and strollers at Como Park Zoo. We stood in line for “zooper” treats and ahead of us three counselors in matching camp t-shirts ordered 20 ice cream cups, 10 cones, and three lemonades. By the time I stepped up to the cashier to purchase a cone the frozen ice cream was gone. The teen behind the counter presented a melty mess and apologetically asked if I’d prefer a refund. I did.
Outside of Seal Island we witnessed a mother having a breakdown as her half-dozen leashed kids cried when the dad announced the ice cream sell out. “We are going home!” she shouted. “I hate this place!” Next to her other ice cream-less parents nodded in empathy.
We pushed past the wagons laden with red-cheeked and comatose kids. We stepped around puddles of ketchup and smashed fries. We admired the polar bears’ new home, and were impressed that the gorillas’ body odor could be smelled all the way over in the cat exhibit. “This is perfect training for the Fair,” I told T as we limped back to the parking lot.
At the Saturday farmers market again we battled the crowds. The stutter step-halt-stutter step-halt so common during peak times at the market gets annoying when all you need is a few tomatoes and some grassfed beef.
Occasionally my ankles get clipped by by a wayward stroller, but nothing is more painful than the wagon wheel foot roll-over. But the worst shoppers are those who walk slowly side-by-side, oblivious of the people around them trying to find the trout guy. We call them the double wides, and brace ourselves for the sudden stops they make for no apparent reason. They stand for a few moments, deep in their conversation, while I try to find an opening within the mob where I can weave through or around them. (Note: this behavior can also be observed with singletons on cell phones. Beware of the distracted walkers.)
And so goes our State Fair prep. We train hard all summer, and expect to be in top State Fair form by Labor Day Weekend. We’ll adapt to rubbing sunburned shoulders with drippy strong-scented strangers. We’ll figure out a scheme to avoid crying children. We’ll find the vendor with cold ice cream. Hopefully we will remember to appreciate our fellow Minnesotans out enjoying a (sometimes rare) sunny day.