Monday, August 18, 2008

Slices of Americana, or "Where culture's defined by the ones least refined"

Coming from a small town, I have grown up with tiny amusement parks and town fairs that provide a day's worth of family friendly, good old fashioned fun. However, it wasn't until I was a bit older that I realized that these parks also provide, hands down, some of the greatest people watching outlets of all time.

My first glimpse of this was when I, as a college sophomore, brought my then-boyfriend to my own little piece of Americana -- the Butler Fair. The Butler Fair is everything you would hope it would be and more: death defying rides (no, seriously. you can hear and watch the bolts falling out), country music concerts, tractor pulls, and, of course, livestock. Lots of livestock. All of this seems harmless enough, but looking back, I should have known what that poor Connecticut boy WASN'T ready for -- Butler's populace. I'm not making any judgment calls, but I guess I never thought that someone from the northeast wouldn't be prepared to see a young girl, no older than 16, about 7-8 months pregnant, wearing a baby-doll tee stating that "I make good boys go bad." More power to ya, sweetie, but you are terrifying my boyfriend. Needless to say, he and I didn't last.

Which brings us to this weekend at Waldameer Park in Erie, PA. I was out visiting one of my closest friends from high school, his wife and children, and various other family members. We enjoyed the rides, outdoor grilling area and carnie games, but mostly (and I must stress this point) the amazing display of colorful characters surrounding us.

First there was middle-aged-possibly-drunk-tone-deaf karaoke guy. In the middle of the day, at a children's amusement park, swaying and rocking out to "New York, New York." "If I can (bum bum) make it there, I'll make it anywhere?" Even if we take the lyrics loosely, you are still about 10 miles from the New York (state) border. And you aren't even making it here.

Then came the most inexplicable player in this little game -- This guy (whose face has been blurred). Special thanks to Laura for posing to make it look like I was taking a picture of her!

Look closely kids, because this dude, for no reason whatsoever, has a small child's pink bikini stuffed down his shirt. Seriously. At least he was with a little girl, presumably his own, making this one million percent less creepy than it could have been.

And finally, the creme de la cream, the piece de la resistance of Waldameer Park, was a woman who could actually take parenting lessons from Britney Spears. After noticing that her infant child was chewing on her empty pack of Parlament Lights, she took the box, tore off the top, and gave the box back to the child. Just in case it wasn't easy enough for little KFed, Jr. to get at those extra tobacco shavings and remnants of nicotine inside.

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