This is what sitting around does to me. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? A tune that continuously repeats and there's nothing you can do to make it stop? A little ditty - inevitably a song you don't particularly care for, but the beat or lyrics just happen to be catchy. I know this has happened to everyone on occasion and at this moment, 'The Macarena' is on a non-stop loop in my brain. HEEEY Macarena! God I hate that song.
I've decided I need to get out more often, so last night I went to a county fair. It was a mistake. Allow me to list but a few of the ways I did not fit in. A. I was overdressed. By overdressed I simply mean that I did not have on a beater or jorts. In fact, my shirt actually had a collar, which after last night, I can only assume has been outlawed. B. I have most of my teeth, which is kind of self-explanatory. C. I didn't even know they made cargo jorts. D. I was sober. E. I do not have a tattoo of Jesus or an ex-girlfriend on my neck. F. I did not have a posse, pack, gaggle, or gang. Apparently this is required. G. I wasn't chewing gum or tobacco. G (part 2). I was not spitting into a cup. H. Lastly, and perhaps it's just me, but clowns in general creep me out. I always think there's a body in the basement. So in summation, the whole episode was slightly depressing for someone who considers himself a man of the people. The tasty elephant ears, corn dogs and pulled pork barbecue platter took some of the sting out of the evening. They were out of fried pickles.
On to my second brilliant idea. When I was a kid, my dad loved taking his six kids to the zoo. (It is worth noting that we lost at least one kid on each visit because my dad never did a head count until we got home. Those of us not lost simply waved as he drove 80 miles an hour down Kenneth Street on his way back to the zoo.) Easily my favorite attraction at the zoo was the chimpanzee show. Every afternoon at The Jo Mendi Chimpanzee Theater, Jo would roller skate, walk a tightrope, ride a scooter, unicycle, bicycle and motorcycle, balance on stilts, and drive his own electric car. Always in a diaper and occasionally while smoking a cigarette. My dad would double over in laughter every time Jo rode the unicycle. Something about a chimp on a unicycle got him every time. Fortunately we finally figured out that bikes, scooters and cigarettes aren't part of a chimp's natural habitat. In 1983, the Zoo Director, Steve Graham deemed the shows to be cruel and ended an almost 50 year run. The Jo Mendi Theater was dismantled and a new four-acre habitat was created. It was touted as the most naturalistic habitat of any chimp exhibit in the world. But sadly when I walked into the zoo last week I was thinking of only one thing. A chimpanzee riding a scooter with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Not even the mating zebras could top that.
Okay, so the carnival wasn't very satisfying and the zoo only served to bring back odd, unreachable memories. Now what? Time for brilliant idea number three - The racetrack. After all, what's better than standing at the rail, slapping your program into your palm and shouting at the top of your lungs as your pony comes flying down the stretch? Right? Well, for one thing there is the unending line of people that I had stand behind to place a bet. Then the sea of humanity you pass through to get to the rail. Was Fellini in town casting a movie? Am I the only guy who doesn't own a piece of John Deere clothing? Is there a comb-over contest after the second race? These are the thoughts rummaging through my brain as I stroll through Darwin's waiting room to take up my place at the rail.
"Springdrops in the seventh," I overheard a man say. "I know the trainer. It's a sure thing." Now we're getting somewhere. "They're dropping him in class. Get on him," said the man who happened to be wearing a magical toupee that moved ever so slightly when he spoke. Now keep in mind that none of this conversation was directed at me. I was clearly eavesdropping, while being entertained by his dancing hairpiece. "Trust me." Oh I trust you. Springdrops was on the board at 28 to 1. That's about a $58 return for every $2 bet. Put $50 on the nose and the payout is around $1,450. So I plunked down $100 and waded back to the rail, giddy thinking about how I was going to spend the $2,900 I was about to win.
"And they're off," says the PA announcer who sounds like he was the G-man in every Bogart movie. "Springdrops jumps to an early two length lead, with Tenderfoot second, Brutus three lengths off and Sherry, Penny Earned and Solo rounding out the field." I'm feeling pretty good. My program is coming apart at the seams as I pound on the rail. "Come on Springdrops, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes." And down the stretch they come! Springdrops still in the lead by a solid length, Sherry on the inside and Penny Earned pushing hard three wide. I'm screaming "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" (It wasn't an articulate scream.) And then it happened. Springdrops suddenly looked like he stopped running. He didn't of course. It's an optical illusion that takes place when every other horse passes you. "AAAAAAHHHH!" (Even less articulate.) "And it's Penny Earned by a nose over Sherry. Tenderfoot takes third, followed by Solo, Brutus and Springdrops." As I drop my program and mope toward the exit, muttering profanities under my breath, I pass the cashiers window. And there he is. The man with the magic toupee is cashing in tickets. What the....? "Hey pal, who did you have in that race?" "The winner. Penny Earned. How about you?" "I had Springdrops." He shakes his head, hair doing the bosanova. "Come back next week. He's dropping in class. Sure thing."