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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The county fair is a big deal around here. I used to live a few blocks from the fairgrounds, and I know how many people crowd into that neighborhood during the two weeks the fair is going on. So why, I wonder, wasn't I prepared for either the traffic or the press of the multitudes when Mom and I went to the fair yesterday?

I picked the time, Tuesday afternoon at 4:30, because I didn't think it would be the most congested time on the streets in front of the county fairgrounds. I was wrong, and not only did we have to inch our way to the parking lot, we had to bypass the two handicapped lots because they were both full. I offered to drop Mom off and park in Glen Ellen or Kenwood and then walk back, but she had a better idea.

It turns out there's a lot across the street from the side entrance where you can park if you have a handicap placard. She has one, and we used it. Still, I should have known from all the cars that there would be at least that many people inside the gates. I didn't think it would bother me, but the longer we stayed, the more uncomfortable I became.

It was okay at first. I saw the sign on the booth that was selling "Deep Fried Twinkies," and I knew I was in the right place (especially since there was a smaller sign below it that read "Deep Fried Oreos"). And I was in awe when we entered the Flower Show and I saw the gigantic elephant statues in front of the massive waterfall. It was magnificent, but unfortunately it was the highlight of the fair as far as I was concerned.

Almost immediately as we were making our way through the flower show pavilion, I felt as if the crowds were closing in on me. I didn't see the flowers because I had my eye on the people, trying to gauge which way they were going to veer and swerve so that I could make a quick move in the other direction. (This, by the way, is what makes me such a good driver.)

The main exhibit building was even worse. I tried to stay on the sides of the aisles, where there was less chance of someone shoving up against me, but on the sides is where the barkers are, trying to get your attention (even if you have the look of a frightened rabbit on your face). I was so totally out of my element that I started to shake.

By the time we'd visited the baby farm animals and made our way through the arts and crafts buildings, we were both ready to go. We didn't even partake of the fabulous array of fair fare (and they did, in fact, have healthier food than deep-fried anything). Mom was tired, and I was frazzled, and it was another headache getting out of the parking lot and through the traffic on the streets and back onto a road where cars actually moved, but we made it.

And I haven't felt so happy to be home in a long time. At least a week.

Shasta Lake 2003

From the houseboat back along the bank.

My favorite parts of the fair are usually the baby goats (which yesterday seemed to be on some kind of non-frolicking drug, because they hardly even looked up when I talked to them, much less butted each other's heads) and the photography (but only the photographs with human beings in them, ironically enough considering I saw way more people than I wanted to at the fair). So I'd have to say this wasn't my best fair experience ever, but I'll probably go back again next year anyway. I won't set aside more than a couple of hours for it, though.

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There are no lingering effects from the fair incident. I'm okay today, although I didn't seek out any large crowds. Mom and I did go to the junior college tonight to see the Summer Repertory Theatre production of "Moon Over Buffalo." (Actually, the play was presented in the auditorium of my old school, Santa Rosa High.) It's a very funny backstage comedy, brilliantly acted by the company and beautifully directed by the artist-in-residence, William McNeil. I don't think I stopped laughing for the whole two hours.

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