September 20, 2005


Here in Stillman Valley, we have Fall Festival coming up. It starts this Friday, and goes through Sunday. There are usually a couple of dances (one at the firestation Saturday night, and one Sunday on the street out in front of Fritz's), car show, tractor show, pork roast at Fritz's Saturday evening, and of course, a midway with the usual rides and games. Leaving town on the way to work this morning, I noticed that the carnies have already started to arrive.

Many folks view carnies as a totally different class of folk. There are a few strange ones... well, I guess VERY strange would better describe them. Most, however, are okay folks. I used to work with a guy who had been a carnie for years. The guy was like a calculator... he could arrive at figures in seconds. Very sharp, and a pretty good guy. At least in my eyes... some folks were bugged by him.

Anyway, whenever I see the caravans arriving, I think about one of our "not so nice" encounters with carnies.

When I was growing up, my mother belonged to a rabbit club. Yes, there really are such things. She raised domestic rabbits, both for show and meat. The club hosted various shows in the region, and also ran the rabbit tent at three different county fairs. If you've been to a fair and seen a tent, or building, full of rabbits that aren't being shown by 4-H members, more than likely, it's run by a rabbit club.

The rabbits are displayed for the week, and this means that someone has to be there to feed and water them. The owners could do it, but not many of them would spend every day there. So usually they'd hire some kid to take care of the rabbits. Or kids. Enter my brother, The Perfect One, and myself.

At night, after we'd get the animals fed, watered, and settled down, we'd hit the lights to the tent, wait for about half an hour, and then start running around the fairgrounds. Many of our friends were still in 4-H and showing animals, so we'd hook up with them. We'd never really get out of hand, but we always had a good time. Sometimes the carnies would come around, and bring their beer, so we did manage to keep from dying of thirst.

One night we were hanging with some of our friends, male and female, camped out in the dairy barn. Along came two carnies. We'd never seen them before, but they had beer, so no one took off when they worked their way into our circle. It didn't take too long, and we knew that the main reason they were there was to get a couple of the girls drunk, and head off with them. Hell... we were all around 15, girls included.

They had brought up a case, and set it on the ground behind them. After our first beers, The Perfect One and I started passing out beer while the carnies' attention was focused on the girls. It didn't take very long, and we had either drank or passed out all but a couple of bottles... to the guys. One of the carnies finally reached back for another beer, and discovered there was a serious deficiency. Unfortunately, it was very obvious who the culprits were. They were pissed.

After a bit of cussing and threatening, the biggest carnie told us that we all owed him two bucks apiece. Of course, it was pointed out that they weren't going to get any money... they shouldn't have been serving minors. The little guy, though pissed, started to ease up. Not the big guy.

Now, let me mention right here, that the guy had a speech problem. It wasn't very evident when he first showed up, but as he became riled, it was very noticable. So when he insisted on "toooouuu dallorz... toooouumarroooooow," with us being a little tipsy, we laughed. Yeah, that always calms the troubled soul. And it didn't help when TPO mocked him.

As soon as my brother mocked him, big carnie guy hopped up and announced that he was going to "keeeeelll" us, then pulled out a knife. Like the flash of light on his blade, we were gone. I don't know how we had the presence of mind, but instead of running for the rabbit tent, we bolted into one of the other barns, where we ducked down and worked our way out the other side. Once outside, we ducked into a ditch and worked our way back to the tent, where we didn't sleep a wink. We expected him to show at any time.

Our friends told us later that the smaller carnie restrained big carnie, but they watched us run into the barn. Later, they came through looking for us. Not a good thing. Like I said earlier, thank gott that we had the thought to run into that other barn. We never went down to the midway after that. And that was our last time taking care of the rabbits.

I guess some good did come from that episode; none of the girls had any interest in them after the appearance of the knife, we got a bunch of free beer, and a lesson learned.

Don't laugh at a rabid carnie.

Posted by That 1 Guy at September 20, 2005 11:48 PM | TrackBack

We're going to try to put in an appearance on Sunday. We have to work a steak fry Saturday night in Rochelle, and the chances of me getting Sarge's crabby ass to the fireman's dance is slim and none. And he did mention going to the East End Sunday, so you will know us by the big black eye Sarge will have if he mentions it again!

Posted by: Marty at September 21, 2005 06:24 AM

Mahn, what have I told you about taunting carnies! I knew there was something off with you... however this reminds me of my own story...

Posted by: Contagion at September 21, 2005 07:25 AM

Marty- I'll keep a look out for the black eye!

Contagion- We were just laughing WITH him... can't wait to hear your tale.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at September 21, 2005 07:28 AM

Carnies. Blech. *shudder*

Posted by: Bou at September 21, 2005 09:07 PM