I just completed my annual trip to the James Dean Festival with my kids, and it’s wonderful to know that I won’t have to endure it again for another 365 days. Since we live in the midst of the darned thing—two short blocks from the cacophonous midway—there is no way we can avoid taking the kids over for some rides and a bit of funnel cake, lest we face a household mutiny. Just a few goes on the Kamikaze, Gravitron, and Tilt-a-Whirl are enough to satiate their appetites for spinning and sudden stops, then we are on our way back home to wash off the cigarette smoke and airborne grease.
As my kids and I plodded through the sweaty mob from ride to ride, I began to compile a list of the things I despise about such festival atmospheres. One day my children will know how much it tortures me. But I hide it from them for now so as not to spoil their fun. At any rate, here is my list (and please don’t share it with Bailey, Sam, Maggie, or Andrew until they are at least in middle school):
10. The ridiculously overpriced rides, midway attractions, and “food”
9. The constant drone of midway vendors, as they clamor after passersby to “take a shot” at winning a big kitschy stuffed animal
8. Thousands and thousands of feet of electrical cords. Watch your step or you’ll roll an ankle or maybe even tear an ACL.
7. The swarms of bees and yellow jackets which feast in droves on the remnants of sugary treats and puddles of spilled beverages
6. The absurdly unhealthy food—all essentially comprised of sugar-laden fat dipped in grease. Some of these treats, however, are hotter than others.
5. The grotesquely corpulent adults
4. The painfully self-conscious teenagers (and the not-sufficiently self-conscious ones who should be sentenced to a semester-long seminar on appropriate public display of affection)
3. Whining kids everywhere. Not my kids, of course. Only other peoples’ kids.
2. The random and unexpected profanity. I can take it from the tattoo-riddled, unkempt Skydiver operator. But from the preschool kid whose mom smiles amusedly at his casual F-bomb?
1. Elephant ears.
That’s just the top ten. I’ll spare you the other 990.
Now somebody please pass me the Rolaids.