By Stacy Davies
A fair is a veritable smorgasbord, orgasbord, orgasbord.
But it’s not my fault. Ever since I got back from the L.A. County Fair, I’ve had that annoying Paul Lynde and Agnes Moorehead Charlotte’s Web song on a noodle loop. I’m exorcising demons, see. Demons that whispered to me last Sunday—go to the fair, go to the fair, it’s an orrrgaaasboardddd . . . I’d never been to the fair. Not as a conscious being, that is—the Orange Show Fair when you’re seven doesn’t count; no one remembers anything significant when they’re seven, except that weird old woman with the blue hair that sat at the end of my bed one night and stared at me. Dream? Hopefully.
In any event, I decided to load up the kit and kaboodle (and grandma) and drag them off to the fair, although, really, they dragged me. There was only one thing I wanted to see, of course—freaks. Freaks, freaks, freaks! I’d seen some on the Discover Health Channel before, and sometimes in David Lynch movies, and often when randomly searching the Internet for “man with no nose” and such. While we stood in line to get in, I did see some people who might have fit the “tattooed lady” category—rotund women with full shoulder tats. Nice. For prison. And yes, I have been to prison. Well, jail. Just once. For a few hours. And I did not get my ass kicked. You can touch me. Maybe.
Milling about inside the gates, it all initially looked like Knott’s Berry Farm’s Fiesta Village meets Olvera Street in L.A. Quaint. Lots of Aztec sun god posters on parchment and Guatemalan knapsacks—and those creepy marionettes. Why oh why are there always creepy marionettes? Freaky, but not truly freaky enough.
We wandered on, past the classy, gigantic inflatable Titanic slide (in a hundred years, will it be the Twin Towers? Is nothing sacred?) and quickly power-walked by the “Stuff Your Own Teddy Bear” hut, free Gideon Bible stand (we took one because it was orange—how retro!) and pined for a ride on the perky and phallic Planters Nuts van: no dice. So, feeling cheated, we grabbed a free pen from the KIIS-FM stand instead (turning down the free Ryan Seacrest poster) and set our crosshairs for freaks. Other freaks, professional freaks—ones that hadn’t paid to come in like we did.
Finally, we found Hercules, a horse that stood (the sign proclaimed) “19 hands tall!” He was large and beautiful, probably a Clydesdale, which we do remember seeing in beer commercials when we were seven and a half. Next door was White Mountain, a giant steer, “10,000 Hamburgers on the Hoof—ALIVE!” We went in, so terribly glad White Mountain could not read. He was lovely and gentle, and hardly edible; and then we peeked in on his neighbor Tiny Tim—no, not an albino, fire-juggling primordial (damn!), but one of those miniature horses “too small for even a baby to ride!” Not that small, really—not like he could fit in the palm of my hand. What a gyp. We did not go in to see the giant snakes—having just watched Ssssss on TV the night before. Besides, we wanted to see the snake lady!
Deflated, we dodged musty-smelling people and the Noah’s Ark Bible story booth (shaped like the real ark!), and were quickly forced onto the sky tram. It’s high. Very high. And it stops a lot—when you’re really high. Singing my smorgasbord song in my head so as not to focus on falling out of the very high, stopped tram seat, we finally landed at the Super Slide. Yeah, no effing way. The rest of my group took to the slippery slope, thinking it not very high, and not realizing that the more you weigh, the more airborne you become. I now have highly valued blackmail shots of them all screaming their guts out like little sissies. Then I overheard this tidbit: “There was a standoff about two houses down from Vera’s place the other night.” Superb! You get one freak point, Madam.
We passed Banda bands, reggae bands, hippie bands—complete with tie-dye and wigs—white man rock-blues bands (please stop now, Fabulous Thunderbirders), the hammer dulcimer guy and some sexy, purring soul sisters. There were miniature trains (loved them!) and trampolines and a sweet ‘68 Corvette roadster up for raffle from the Rotary Club—for a mere $20 a ticket. The woman selling them grinned sheepishly, “I bought four—but I never win anything.” I passed my meager luck off to her and wished her well.
Then I found Jerry Smith.
Manning the bustling counter at Chicken Charlie’s Broasted Chicken (what is broasted?), Jerry offered me a sampler of all his fare: deep-fried avocados, deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried pickles, deep-fried olives, and the Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich.
Jerry wanted me to die.
I mowed down the deep-fried death wish and felt the onset of a sugar coma. Fortunately, the only beer stand in the whole place that served Hefeweizen was next door, and I gulped down my pint, saving my own life. I returned to Jerry.
“Jerry,” I said, “you even gave me honey for the Krispy Kreme Chicken sandwich. Honey, Jerry, honey.”
“We can’t leave well enough alone, I guess. We’ve pretty much tried deep-frying everything—I made deep-fried hard boiled eggs the other day, and they were actually good.”
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. You get one very kind freak point for being an artery assassin. Maybe one and a half.
I’d already done some liver and kidney damage, so I decided to slop down the (pork) Chop on a Stick at a neighboring stand, and finished off my binge with an utterly revolting deep-fried Snickers. I could not, I’m almost sorry to say, do the deep-fried corn on the cob. Some things are just wrong. In fact, there are many, many things wrong here.
Rolling my now rotund self toward the exit, I thought about getting a full-shoulder henna tat—but opted for a 25-cent ride on the Footsie Wootsie instead. The Footsie Wootsie. Freak point for the person who named this very sorry excuse for a vibrating pod chair.
And thus our trip ended, with no traditional freak sightings to be had. Then again, modern surgery has released the formerly freakish from assholes like me, and it’s only fair. Perhaps these days, we are all freaks in some way—I mean, who still remembers the words to Charlotte’s Web, if they ever knew them at all?
THE L.A. COUNTY FAIR AT THE POMONA FAIRPLEX, 1101 W. MCKINLEY AVE., POMONA, (909) 623-3111 OR (310) 561-8474; WWW.LACOUNTYFAIR.COM OR WWW.FAIRPLEX.COM. OPEN DAILY. THRU OCT. 1.