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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I Am Directionally Challenged

Having fixed the toilet Sunday, Big Willie declared himself finished with the interior of the house. In a perverse nod to both conservation and frugality, we have foregone air conditioning for the last two years, and the house was no where you wanted to be on such a warm day anyway. He retired to the garage, where the detritus of a number of construction projects had collected to render the building useless, and settled in for a good afternoon’s sweat to try to clear it before winter.

I called Erin.

“Remember how you wanted to go to the State Fair?”

“Yes. Can you go?”

“I can go!”

I collected all the loose cash in the house and Erin picked me up. We drove to Rosedale, where we knew that city buses were offering free rides to the Fair and back. For some reason, we were both of the opinion that we would be able to find the pick-up spot easily.

Foolish mortals.

We drove around the mall, our brows becoming more and more furrowed as we said things like “I’m sure it’s just around the corner” and “It’s got to be here someplace…”

“Maybe it’s over in this direction…”

“It’s there! I see the signs!”

Unfortunately, so did the people in the lane two over, and there was a near collision as we vied for the same lane. But quick! There’s the bus, there’s the line of fair-goers! Quick! To the parking lot!

We pulled in, parked, grabbed our purses and hand sanitizers and ran for the bus, laughing as we got on as the bus pulled away. What luck! What clever girls we are!

Things we had to do at the fair:
1. Find the $20 400-count sheets we’d been told of.
2. Have a corn dog and a bag of hot, tiny donuts.
3. Go to the Cattle Building to find our friend Reba.
4. Go to the International Village for my Russian ceramics.
5. Go to the Baby Animal Barn.
6. Avoid the Midway (where the rides are) because of Erin’s aversion to vomit/the smell of vomit.

Welcome to the Minnesota State Fair. Food on a stick! Two-hour-old piglets! Cows, goats, horses, chickens and turkeys! Young people encrusted with tattoos and piercings! Children on leashes! The sights and smells of our people. Ah, Minnesota, we love you!

Roughly three hours, a hundred dollars and countless calories later, we were done with our State Fair love affair. We had done our duties, as good Minnesotans, and were free to go about our corn-dog-free existence for another year.

We went back to where the buses were lined up and then stopped short.

“Which bus are we on?”

And we looked into each other’s eyes and realized, in a mixture of emotion between dismay and horrified amusement, that we didn’t know how we’d gotten there.

We stood in front of the line of buses and looked at the signs. We had been by Rosedale, right? So wouldn’t we get on the Rosedale bus? We looked at the posted signs. Looked at each other. Looked back at the signs. How bad could it be?

There were three stops on the Rosedale bus; and as we approached the third and final stop, we realized that this wasn’t it. It wasn’t even close.

“Where did we park?”

We listed everything we could remember about where we’d left the car. We had come out of Rosedale. We had almost been sideswiped by a car. We took a right. We parked near a large building with two flagpoles. We had been the last stop.


We rode the bus back to the Fair, grinning sheepishly at the driver, got off and approached a man with a clipboard who appeared to have something to do with the buses. Describing where we’d come from, where we’d been, he directed us to another bus, saying, encouragingly, “That’s the only bus I can think of that matches what you describe. Anyway, even if it’s the wrong bus, the whole loop only takes 15 minutes or so.”

OK! We’ll see you in a little while!

But he was right about which bus we needed to be on; and after a whole ride of justifying our inability to figure out where we were with “Well, I don’t even think our location was listed” and “They really should mark these things better” we were dropped off in front of two signs that, in large black letters, proclaimed exactly where we were. And there were the two flagpoles.

Ha ha. Silly females!

We ended the night at a fairly large and impromptu gathering on Kurt and Kathy’s porch, replete with BBQ and beer where we once again solved the world’s problems – or at least our own. We’re good like that.

And today? Today is Labor Day and very warm, the breeze, strong and perfect for drying clothes. The afternoon quiet is broken only by the cars that go “boom” and the odd cicada (or “chipmunks with chainsaws”, as Vin calls them) high up in the trees. I’m off to enjoy my last bit of freedom before I go back to work.

Laborers of the World, thank you! And power to the people!

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