M: "We'll be at the Joan Jett show. She hates herself for loving you."
C: "What a coincidence. I hate myself for loving her. I honestly do."
M: "She wants you to ask yourself if you wanna touch her, 'cos she don't give a damn about her Bad Reputation."
C: "Once, I let her touch my Crimson and Clover, over and over. But then I got a bad rash."
M: "Sounds like Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap to me..."
C: "Hey, that's not even her song! Oh wait, none of her songs are..."
Polyfro at the Iowa State Fair
Last Sunday, Dick and I went to Des Moines for the Iowa State Fair. It was the last day of the fair, or "Extreme Sunday" as they call it. And, take it from me, it was an EXXXTREEEME Fair Experience. (Oh, right. Post-BIPTO Era, I don't get to yell that anymore. Sorry.)
So "Extreme Sunday" at the fair means three things. One, gate admission is half price. Two, lots of food is on special so they can sell it out. And three, lots of EXXX, oop sorry, extreme entertainment is available. Entertainment like CannonLady, who shoots herself at 35MPH out of a cannon custom-mounted onto a pickup truck into a net some 200 feet away. Entertainment like Raven (you know her from Disney, or for people my age, from the Cosby Show), although we did not attend this show. And mostly, entertainment like Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. We most definitely attended this show.
The Iowa State Fair is known world-wide as one of the best fairs anywhere -- every year, in excess of 1 million people come through the turnstiles. Once inside, everyone pretty much does the same thing: eat food, walk around burning said food off, rinse, repeat. I've only missed the fair 4 times in my 28 years. When I was a little guy, my grandpa used to work the fair at his company's booth. He sold grain bins, and would spend the entire 10 days answering questions in front of prototype grain bins out in the ag section of the fair. I'd hang out, and the best part was when you're a cute little kid with flirty eyes AND your grampa works at the fair, you get to ride around on a golf cart. Imagine being three years old, riding around amidst 100,000 people on a golf cart. You're pretty sure that the world is your oyster, even though you have no idea what an oyster is, and have only vague notions of why you'd covet one so.
I wouldn't miss it for the world. For my epic 25th year at the fair, we got to the fairgrounds just after 1pm. We immediately consumed the "Extreme Tenderloin Special", which was a 1/2 pound breaded loin on a bun with fries for just $4 (normally $7.50!).
Nutritionists come out of the woodwork this time of year to tell you how going to the fair is bad for your health because just about everything you eat is bad for you, and everyone eats way too much of it. Their humorless warning goes something like, "The food at the fair isn't good for you." After breaking that story, they break more news by telling you "Itching your back with a rotary hammer on low speed isn't a good idea."
Of course the food isn't good for you, genius. Its supposed to be good to eat, not good for you. These things are mutually exclusive at the fair. Is there anything better than fried foods at the fair? Deep-fried Snickers! Deep-fried pork chops! Yum! I not only want them to be deep-fried, I want them to set a world record for deepness in their frying just to stick it to the nutritionists who decry the notion of the fair. Fry it deeper than anything has ever been deep-fried before! You bet! Dig a hole 20 feet down, fill it with grease and really deep fry something, anything. Pencils, batteries, small cats, anything is good when its fried that deeply. And it doesn't matter: I won't eat any of these things come tomorrow. The fair is a once-a-year thing. Enjoy yourself, bitches.
I walked past the JR Mini Donuts stand the first time, and I could not stop myself. One bag, please. The worst thing that ever happened was when they put in a mini donuts stand directly behind my seats at Creighton basketball games. I made it through six games without stopping by, but the first time I went by myself, I could no longer hold back and when I fell off the wagon, I fell hard. Three bags, one each of sugar, powdered sugar and brown sugar. You bet.
But they're not the same as the JR Mini Donuts at the Iowa State Fair. No sir. My brother and I annually polish off a bag of 30 d-nuts each. With my brother unable to attend, I was left to get a bag of 14. And I polished it off.
We stopped by the Ag Building to see the world-famous Butter Cow (and Butter Superman!) and immediately incurred the wrath of an old lady. There's a traffic flow inside the building, see, and you're supposed to come in the doors, walk all the way around looking at gourds and pumpkins and tomatoes, and at the end your reward is seeing the Butter Cow. While, I didn't much care to see all those vegetables, no matter how big they were, so we usurped the system and walked directly to the Butter Cow. One lady apparently believed the traffic flow was a line, and thought we'd budged in front of her. She didn't have the stones to say so to my face, though: I heard her tell her daughter, herself mid-fifties making the accuser probably pushing 80, "I don't know who these guys think they are, budging right in front! We waited in line to see this!"
Look, there was no line. Its a mirage to make you have to look at 6 pound tomatoes and oddly-shaped gourds. Don't blame me for figuring it out. And don't be jealous you didn't think of it.
Bet you can't guess how I really feel, eh?
After emerging from the Ag Building, we headed over for some Varied Industries Building action. This building is a highlight for two reasons: its air conditioned, and the cookie stand in the back has the BEST COOKIES ever. They come in a styrofoam cup (ingenious, by the way), and they just pile them in there. And they sell so many at such a breakneck pace, there's no conceivable way to get cookies that aren't fresh, warm, and dominant. In short, they're extremely Awesome.
Also, the University of Iowa booth hands out football posters. I procured two, one for me and one for my brother, and would carry them around the rest of the day.
Next, we met up with our friend Kim and checked out the animals. Namely, The Big Bull. This thing was, no joke, 3,090 pounds. One and a half tons! Good lord! Oh, and "This Sire's Semen is Collected by Hawkeye Breeders". That sign cracked us up in a juvenile sort of way.
The fatigue from all the food soon set in. I spent the better part of the next hour languishing behind the group, a step slow both physically and mentally. A 64-oz soda couldn't even revive me. And the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts show was going to start soon.
As we made our way into the crowd of kids much younger than us, we wound up about six feet from the stage. The girl in front of us, who was maybe 18, had a tattoo on her back that read "Fuck You". Nice. I can't tell you what her friend's shirt said, but it was basically this (minus the asterisks): "Got C***?". Um, you bet?
In a one-hour show, Joan Jett steamrolled through every one of her songs you'd ever want to hear. The shame was my buddy Continental missed the show, as he was in NYC on business. When I was giving him grief over missing the show the day before, this was the sum total of our conversation:
After the show, only one other thing of note happened. Its a doozy, though. We decided to ride the ski lift across the fairgrounds to get to the other side, and since there was three of us, one had to ride solo. Me. The plan was for me to ride in front, then turn around and make faces 100 feet in the air as they took my picture. Hilarious stuff.
So we get to the peak of our height, and I turn around, eyes closed as a side-effect of my facial contortions. I'm screaming hysterically, knowing it will make a better photo. Then I open my eyes. Dick and Kim are not in the car behind me. Its some kid and his mom. Who now think I'm completely insane. I might have been legitimately embarrassed. Its been so long since I've blushed, I don't even know what its like, but I might have done it there.
Turns out the next two cars after me were people on round-trips, so they didn't get off -- meaning Dick and Kim were three cars back. Forced to entertain myself for the 10-minute ride now, I decided to be That Crazy Guy and yell things to passing cars. Especially ones with other people riding solo. You bet.
Oh, and once we got to the other side, we saw a guy smack an Indian Tiger in the face. "I'll smack you in the mouth, I'm Neil Diamond!" Coolest thing I've ever seen -- a human being smacking a tiger in the mouth! And the tiger didn't retaliate!
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