Thursday, May 26, 2016
Bangs, Funnel Cakes and The Rapture
When offered the opportunity to attend an event in, at or near a fairground, pavilion or other such assembly, my family typically says a hearty “Yes, please” with the immediate clarifying query, “Do they have corn dogs and/or funnel cakes?” Knowing this, I was not surprised when my larger extended family and I visited the Oklahoma State Fair sometime in mid-September, 1978; close enough to my birthday to have possibly been my gift. Like other nomadic groups, my family tends to travel in packs so our party consisted of my parents, brother and sister; an aunt, uncle and cousin and the aunt’s best friend, her husband and two children, who I actually though were related to me until I was told otherwise when I was in high school.
Everything was going along as swimmingly as possible when I had an accessory malfunction and was forced to bend down to tie my shoe. As I was not skilled at squatting, I did a complete bend at the waist as if I was an early adopter of yoga, my buster brown haircut’s signature bangs blocking my peripheral view. In that moment my family made a sharp right into one of the buildings to look at homemade jam, pigs, rocking chairs or whatever else occupies your attention at a State Fair besides the aforementioned corn dogs and funnel cakes.
When I righted myself, I did not immediately see them and before I could make an assessment of the situation and do something other than completely freak out, the “I’m 7 years-old and a bit dramatic to boot” gene took over and I leapt and ran just like OJ did in the airport in those commercials back in the day before he was a murderer or whatever. It never occurred to me to realize if my family hadn’t themselves run as if being chased, then I should have overtaken them. It didn’t occur to me they wouldn’t be standing at our car in the parking lot waiting for me until I arrived at the location and found myself alone; impressed I found the car, but alone nonetheless.
Now out of breath and unsure of my next move, I took the opportunity to pause and reflect. Full disclosure: I was almost paralyzed by fear; I wondered if the Rapture had happened and I had been left behind with the heathen who did not know Jesus, like the Moonies or the Catholics.
Just like every after-school special, I was found by a kind elderly couple from a nearby Winnebago. I say elderly as I remember them seeming grandparent-esque. To be honest, my mother was 33 and I thought she was “pure grown”, so they could’ve simply been in their late 40s. Whatever their age, I was fortunate this couple did not kidnap me. They simply questioned my solo status and took control of the situation, returning me to the entrance of the Fair, leaving me under the care of a friendly carnival worker who suggested I wait with her and let my family find me.
I thought about discussing my “left behind” theory with her, but had quickly assessed her to be a heathen, due almost entirely to the feathers clipped into her lustrous hair. Deciding I did not want to cause a ruckus on my first day on earth without Jesus or my parents, I didn’t broach the subject of religion. Additionally, as I was here, it seemed I had inadvertently joined the ranks of the carnival heathen and needed to get along with my new people. One of my talents has always been the ability to insert myself into any situation quickly and with relatively little fanfare. Ms. Feathers, as I named her, was very kind and allowed me to have a great time greeting people. Well, as great a time as you can have looking toward an eternity in the Lake of Fire. At least I could smell the funnel cakes.
I sat for what I remember to be quite some time (but was probably less than 20 minutes) saying hello and taking tickets from the more fortunate Fair-going families who had not been torn asunder by poor timing, overreactions and bangs. My family finally made it to the front gate as my mother is a proven problem-solver. Hugs abounded, at least from the mothers; back slaps from the fathers. My siblings and cousins were less charitable. Apparently the group veered to the right into one of the buildings in search of ice cream, but before any orders could be placed my absence was noticed, the frozen dairy treats were quickly forgotten and the search began. I should have known the pursuit for sustenance would be our downfall. We are Southern; eating is what we do.
After my rescue the adults wanted to head home, as searching for a missing child is, apparently, psychologically exhausting. The children, including me, still wanted icy refreshment. Skilled at reading her audience and a negotiator at heart, my mother suggested a trip to Baskin-Robbins which was on the way home. Also gifted in looking on the bright side she said, “At least Dusty knows where we parked.”
Newly found by both God and family, I triumphantly escorted everyone through the maze-like parking lot, not unlike a chubby, pre-pubescent Pocahontas, with less woodland creatures but about the same amount of suede fringe. It was Oklahoma, y’all, cut me some slack.