Tuesday, August 19, 2008
At the Fair
After the swine barn there's nothing for it: I have to get a funnel cake. I pick the shack with the sign that says "Funnel Cake" with the greatest preponderance of capital letters and the most forceful color of paint, because everyone knows the better your signage, the better your food. My funnel cake is $2 more expensive than any other funnel cake at the fair, and is served by a beady-eyed man sporting what may or may not be a fake moustache. These are all good signs.
I have to wait for the cake. This is because a little blond boy made it to the shack before me. I glower at him until he hides his head against his mother's side. She gets the funnel cake for him when it comes out, damn her long reach; I could have taken the kid. Finally my funnel cake arrives, dripping from its bath of grease like a virgin in a B movie dripping from her gratuitous shower. I'm on it like a pervert on an inflatable cheerleader.
They take a lot of showers in B movies. Similarly, I take a lot of time to eat my funnel cake, mostly because it is ungodly hot and burns my fingers the first thirteen times I try to rip into it. I subdue the cake with patience: patience is one of those underrated weapons, like numchucks. Once I've gotten the thing down to a reasonable temperature, it's no match for me; by the time I make it to the tractor barn, I'm down to those last few sick-making bites.
This is the moment that separates the real men and women from the sensible. Are you going to manage to ingest those last sugary blobs of deep-fried goodness, or will you knuckle under and feed the rest to some kid whose mom isn't looking? I have not come this far for nothing; I force the rest of the cake down my gullet and stagger forward toward the distant white light that is the sun glinting off the tractors. They are green. I am green. They are covered with swarms of small boys. I am not, but if I fall over, I know small boys will trample my bloated carcass underfoot.
I tell myself it's just a cake. I tell myself I've handled a lot worse, like heartbreak and bad news and the really big spider that crawled up out of the garbage disposal. I lie down and pray for death.
It takes me 24 hours to recover from the funnel cake but I make it in the end, clawing my way back inch by inch toward digestive health. I do not eat anything else because I have forgotten what it is to feel hunger. In fact, I have forgotten everything but the cake; the cake has acted like liquid plumber, scrubbing out the inside of my skull until it gleams. I am wan and sickly and satisfied. I have sacrificed for my own sins; I don't need anyone else to do it for me.