the St. Albert the Great parish carnival was the place to be in the summer. it came around the end of July, or maybe it was August, and at that point Burbank Illinois was usually the temperature of hot balls. the anticipation began around June and i started to plan my outfits in a timely fashion like how many socks i would slouch onto each foot, a turquoise one and a sea foam green one and a purple one and which color would i match my scrunchy to. i liked a side ponytail with a scrunchy and wore it well, aside from the fact i thought my nose was too big to wear my hair up but i went with it anyway and simply ignored any reflections i came across. the first evening was the most magical, everyone from the neighborhood was there. it was held in the church parking lot with a beer garden on one end and the zipper on the other. i wasn’t a big fan of the ride but was always fascinated with the drunk parents spilling their plastic cups of beer all over each other. the pizza they sold tasted miserable but the elephant ears were divine and it was always a thing amongst the boys to see who could scarf down the most then puke it up on the salt and pepper shaker ride. they also liked to have strange competitions like who could endure rubbing an eraser on their forearms the longest. a bunch of weirdo Catholic boys and i loved them. we would all stand together but in a segregated fashion, girls on one half of the circle boys on the other talking but not to one another. there was a tree right next to the convent that couples could make out behind, feeling the elastic band of each other’s underwear and then calling it a day. i was jealous when my best friend Roberta did that with Ralph, who i loved but pretended to hate in a way that i still do with men from time to time. i should unlearn that. the night was lit with warm amber bulbs stapled and dangling from the roofs on the row of trailers that held Tweety Bird stuffed animals and buckets filled with water and plastic ducks. it looked like a summer night, if that makes any sense. one year i won a mirror with a Spuds Mckenzie decal stuck to the front of it. i displayed it proudly holding it under my armpit, art side out. i never won anything, once in second grade at another carnival in another parish parking lot. it was a My Little Pony, a pegasus, and i thought it was destiny. i used to believe in destiny i even had it tattooed to my shoulder, but not so much anymore and that’s a different conversation altogether and that night a carny who worked the ferris wheel flirted with me but i didn’t know what that was at the time and fidgeted with my prize trying not to make eye contact with him or my reflection in the mirror.
my father co-ran a booth called Ham and Eggs, at least i think that was the name but it was most likely something more clever. they would raffle off whole hams and packs of bacon and cartons of eggs. it was a popular booth and i liked to check in every so often to watch my dad and his friends act like adults not just parents. i never did understand the logic behind hot weather and pounds of meat. their booth was close to the beer garden and they sipped on warm Miller products all day while handing out pig legs and by the time evening came we could run free through the premises with barely a watchful gaze on us which was awesome and made me excited for the independence that was to come. by weekend’s end the grass and even the tar smelled like cigarettes and beer and fire crackers and satisfaction.
tonight in my backyard we discussed Tetris and Angry Bird, which apparently is sweeping the nation. the game seems unbelievably lame. but who am i to judge.