The last time I went to the Big Butler Fair was probably the summer of 2002. This is the best fair around because there are SO MANY rides. And other stuff too, I guess, if you’re into real life county fair attractions. After the second ride I dragged Henry on, he was like, “That’s it. I’m done. Officially quitting carnival rides for the rest of my life. Not gonna do it, you can’t make me, would rather wrap my dick with barbed wire.” And most of the rides have signs nailed up that yell NO SINGLE RIDERS, so that only made me feel unloved and angry. Henry tried to make up for it by buying me some shitty $2 holographic ring that now sits in my jewelry box, RUSTED and malformed.
Never went back after that. What good is it with no one to ride with?
Last week, my bestest Alisha was like, “Pretend you’re my girlfriend and I’ll take you to the Big Butler Fair. I’ll even ride some shit.”
“What does that entail,” I asked. “This ‘being your girlfriend’ thing?”
“Just look pretty, not that you’ll have to try very hard since you’re practically a BEAUTY QUEEN,” she said. “And if you’re real lucky, I might be inclined to buy some tornado chips for us to share. Maybe even spend the extra dollar to get some cheese sauce splooged on it.” Alisha decided she would buy the ride-all-day passes ($15 online, as opposed to TWENTY DOLLARS at the gate, Jesus shit-packing Christ), if I would take care of the general admission. Which was only five dollars. I thought that was extremely fair and quickly signed off on the deal.
How could I pass that up? I put on a tank top that left me 90% exposed to Butler County every time I leaned over, and we set off for the fair.
The first thing I noticed from the parking lot was my old lover/nemesis, The Zipper. I felt a warming in my heart; a feeling that might be better reserved for when your granny serves you up some warm chocolate chip cookies, or when your favorite stripper is wearing that clear vinyl g-string with the studs again. It’s the feeling of coming home. I have a hard time believing you’re running a county fair if there ain’t no hobofucking Zipper, OK?
And all along the horizon, I saw more gravity-defying death traps slicing through the sky. The shrill shrieks of horrified excitement pierced the air, the kind of wails that sound like an amalgamation of murder and rough sex, and could be heard all the way through the parking lot. I felt so inspired that I raised the roof right there in the grass lot.
There were a lot of great rides there, I can show you my research for proof, but there was one that I loved so much, I want to give it its own entry.
The Wacky Worm, a/k/a The Caterpillar.
It was the first ride I saw once Alisha and I had our wristbands fastened by the hands of two gnarly carnies.
“Whaaaaat is that?” I exclaimed in that deep, soft tone I reserve for moments of pure majesty.
“That’s a kids ride, Erin,” Alisha scoffed as she followed my jutting finger to the most delightful kid-coaster in the shape of a caterpillar, coasting lazily along yellow tracks.
We rode a few big kid rides, but my desire kept going back to the caterpillar.
“I don’t think we can ride that without being accompanied by a child!” Alisha lectured.
And then we rode a few more rides, like the ferris wheel, upon which I gazed at the Caterpillar from above. “But there are adults riding it!” I whined.
“BECAUSE THEY ARE PARENTS RIDING IT WITH THEIR CHILDREN,” Alisha reiterated, bordering on hostility.
Then we ate and shopped a little.
Eventually, though, we found ourselves back in the vicinity of the caterpillar.
One of my favorite songs by the Cure is “The Caterpillar.” I don’t think this is a coincidence at all. It was practically written in the Bible that I needed to stuff myself into the cavity of a metal caterpillar on this day of Saturday July 3, 2010. At this point, I was convinced that it was my destiny and wasn’t going to leave the fair until I sat my fat ass on that ride, even if it meant borrowing some stranger’s kid. Or cutting off Alisha’s legs and stuffing her into a romper.
“I’ll just ask,” I said, thinking I could lean over a little while pleading with the carnie, maybe smash my boobs against the gate in the carnival version of Hamilton-slipping the doorman at Studio 54. And ask I did. I marched over to the Mexican carnie (Eduardo, I checked his badge), pointed back and forth to Alisha and myself and shouted up to him, “Can we ride this too?!”
He nodded and motioned for us to come on up. You know I clobbered my way excitedly up the metal steps, tongue wagging a little, with Alisha walking a little more hesitantly, cautiously, behind me. She refused to ride with me, choosing instead to slide into her own seat.
I bet Alisha didn’t expect it to be as AWESOME as it was! It was everything I imagined. I yelled and screamed the whole way through, especially when we cruised over the BUMPY part of the tracks! Sitting behind Alisha, I squealed and yelled, “PUT YOUR HANDS UP!” as we approached the big drop.
“You’re stupid!” Alisha kept shouting over her shoulder.
LOOK AT HOW HAPPY I AM IN THIS PICTURE! It was like being a fucking child again. I forgot all about bills and mom-things and the bruises my pimp left across my ribcage. It was fabulous.
I wish the Caterpillar was my primary means of transportation. I wish it was idling sweetly next to my bed every morning, waiting to whisk me off into the kitchen for my morning coffee and angel dust. And it would have a No Henry policy, where it would fake like it was going to let him board, only to speed up, leaving him standing there dejected, with his pants down.
Of course I made Alisha ride it again.
“We’ll wait until it gets darker and all the LIGHTS come on!” I had it all planned out.
“What is WRONG with you?” Alisha asked. But secretly she was excited to ride something that didn’t break her collarbone and leave metal waffle-marks on her cheek.
The second time, we had to actually stand in line. With other children. Like, small other children. There was a mom who was hanging back next to the line and I kept catching her glaring at us. I’m pretty sure Alisha, who was against this from the beginning, was trying to hide behind her hair.
“At least we’re not dudes,” I said as we chose our seats. That seemed to make Alisha feel a little less creepy.
“Hey look,” she said. “Did you know there’s a safety bar?”
I checked in front of me, and also noticed there was a seat belt. “Huh. How about that,” I murmured as I fished for some slack in the seat belt, which wasn’t even coming close to crossing my lap.
Alisha noticed this and said, “That right there is a good indication that we’re TOO OLD FOR THIS RIDE.”
But at least we were properly fastened the second time around, since the carnie didn’t seem to think it was necessary to check for our safety! Now I know what ride to go on if I’m trying to die, I guess.
EDIT: OH SHIT I FOUND A VIDEO OF IT ON YOU TUBE YOU GUYS!