There was one year we were there and there was no hurricane but it sure felt like it – the rain it was coming down in buckets. And everybody was running around like mad and looking for cover when we found a man with a corn stand underneath one of those big umbrella things. We asked if we could take shelter under his umbrella and he said he didn’t mind as long as we were paying customers, that as long as we were buying and eating corn we could stay as long as we liked. Well I’ll tell you what, we must’ve had about 8 or 9 ears each that day. Didn’t shit chunkless for a week, and I’ll spare you any more about that. Other than to say it didn’t feel so great, which I suppose you might have guessed.

Then there was the year I met my Dorothy. I remembered her name straight off, my Dorothy, as that was my grandmother’s name, though everybody called my grandmother Dot – she’d had a thing with Dorothy, I guess. The name, I mean. Not another person called Dorothy, as far as I know. And my first few months with my Dorothy it was difficult for me not to call her Dot, because I’d heard Dorothy corrected to Dot so many times that I almost couldn’t dare even say the name Dorothy, it’d just disappeared from my vocabulary, replaced by Dot. Like those dogs and their saliva – no, more like the racial words – they just get replaced and after a while you don’t think of them any more. That’s how it was with Dorothy. But that was the best year, the year I met my own Dorothy, my Dorothy, okay being Dorothy. There was no rain that year, no need to overeat to stay dry, and I was there with the usual bunch of guys. Only we weren’t hungry and were a little too old for the rides, all except for Joshua, who never got too old for things like that. He wandered off anyway before long, just like he always did. So the rest of us were just knocking around doing a whole heap of nothing, nothing but being there, making ourselves a scene, which is what guys like us did in those days. I don’t even think we were pretending to be having at a time at the place; we were really just STANDING there, probably not even talking much. Dorothy was there with her parents, and though she looked older than her years – developed, you know – she gave her age away by walking about four or five feet behind her folks. I’d been noticing it all day. You can’t help but notice things when you just stand around, after all. But the kids of her age, the ones with their parents, they all moved like it was scientifically impossible to be next to their parents. Like invisible bubbles. Or magnets.
So there was Dorothy, lagging with the sweetest scowl behind her parents, just ready to be plucked off. And there I was, with nobody paying a lick of attention to what I was doing anyway, because I was so good at doing nothing that nobody ever suspected I might do anything but. That was the best year, I think.

Then there was the year – what, must have been ten years later almost – that was the year I had too much fried dough. This is what happens when in the company of a three-year-old: you get fat. Because three-year-olds like sweets, a lot, but just don’t have the stomach for it, so you end up eating their share and no amount of chasing their squirming selves around is ever going to burn off too much fried dough. So I ate too much fried dough, and that was the first time that Samuel asked me why I couldn’t live with him, which made the fried dough find its way right back up-over-and-out, which, I mean, is better than getting fat, but not by much. And the other thing you need to know about three-year-olds is that they can’t keep their damned mouths shut, so of course the first thing out of his mouth is “daddy had a tummyache” and then her lips do the quivery thing they do before she cops to demonic, and she just can’t believe that I’d risk his health being around him when I’m sick like that, and that I must be just about the most selfish person ever to set foot. And she went on like that for a good long while.

So the next year I went by myself. And didn’t eat a thing.

One Response to “False Remembrances from the Smallest World’s Fair”

  1. jon Says:

    DOT, developed, you know!

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