After I got home I went to the Goodwill store and found something I've been hoping to get: a single-volume paperback edition of Tolkein's The Lord Of the Rings trilogy. It's a book I first read going on fifty yeas ago, and though I'm not one of those who consider it a masterpiece of literature, it is something I enjoy rereading now and then. It has always amazed me that an old Oxford don would create such a strange and fanciful world, even if he was a philologist. The store has had quite a few copies of individual books of the trilogy, but once I found out that there was a single-volume version my bargain hunter instincts kicked in, and I have finally been rewarded.
I then went to CVS to get a six pack of beer, and on the way home I walked through the carnival, which opened this afternoon. I was a bit disappointed with it. There ferris wheel is impressive, and there is another ride that will probably appeal to older kids— it looks rather like one of those European elevators that runs continuously like a vertical conveyor belt made a deal with the devil and converted itself into a bunch of cages that swing freely as the whole conveyor apparatus from which they are hung turns like the ferris wheel. Probably great fun to ride if you are twelve or so.
But the other rides are mostly kiddie rides, and rather dull looking ones at that. The handful of midway game booths are way to slick and tidy looking. Carnivals should have a rakishness about them, but this one is about as rakish as a Walmart. The carnies were a disappointment, too. I didn't see a single piercing or a snake tattoo in the lot of them. In fact most of them were wearing long sleeves, and it was seventy degrees out. I decided to pretend that it was because they were heroin addicts and they all had tracks they had to keep covered up, and that their piercings were all Prince Alberts, or nipple rings, and their concealed tattoos were obscene. I couldn't tell if they had dental issues or not, since none of them smiled, though one of them did yawn as I was passing, and he could have modeled for a toothpaste ad.
I had intended to see if there was something I could buy for dinner there, but There were only two food trucks, neither of which interested me, and one tidy coach with the carnival company's own food in it, and I didn't want a seven dollar hot dog and four dollar French fries, so I just made something for myself at home. There wasn't any real carnival music, either, just the usual pop songs played over loudspeakers, and I could have listened to pretty much the same thing at the Goodwill store. And instead of the fragrance of cotton candy and popcorn and roasted peanuts wafting over the scene all I could smell was the diesel exhaust from the generators powering the rides. I though about sticking around until dark and getting a bit of video of the lights with my phone, since the lights are pretty impressive, but decided I should get home and eat something.
So, it turns out you can't go back to the carnivals of childhood again. The carnival has been suburbanized. The only improvement I could see was they were selling beer at one booth of to the side, but I have plenty of cheap beer at home, so paying five or six times as much for a paper cup of it is not my idea of fun. Maybe I'm just too old. The kids I heard screaming on the one fairly impressive ride seemed to be having a good time. I'd rather sit in my back yard with a can of Tecate, and listen to the screams from a distance. Or go indoors and listen to this: