Reliving Our Glory Days

A couple of years ago, I had been dreaming of capturing one of those iconic photos of legs dangling in the sunset as people spun in a giant circle while riding the county fair swing ride. I put the decision on London, my 14 year old. I wasn’t going to go alone, and her desire to hang out with me in public had been waning. Something about me being unpredictable, inappropriate and embarrassing like “that one time” when I “flirted with an elf” on a holiday lights cruise. 

She obliged the idea—she, too, had been dreaming about a visit to the fair since her big brother, ManCub, won a giant unicorn four days prior. Although carnival games are my least favorite aspect of a fair adventure, I agreed to invest in a $20 game card. I watched as sharp darts, thrown at blurring speed, slipped between bulging balloons without a pop. As plastic rings arched through the air and then disappointingly pinged off the tops of bottles, without fail. I watched that $20 investment break my teen’s spirit. Until she spied the basketball hoops game. 

“Mom, can you play that for me?” she asked. 

“No way,” I replied. 

“But I saw that box of trophies and weren’t you a state player or something?” she asked. 

I explained that exactly 100 years ago in high school I had been a baller, and had been an all-state player my senior year. “But I left at the top of my game,” I said, smiling. “And it’s bad luck to relive those glory days. Anyway, I need a footlong corndog in my life.” 

The commotion of her begging and pleading caught the attention of Bruce, the carnival worker manning the basketball booth. What did I have to lose, he asked. It’s all in fun. “You’re tall, you should try it,” he urged. I agreed to throw six basketballs at a hoop if we could leave the game area forever, no matter the outcome. People began to gather after the commotion I created when I hit my fourth shot in a row. Two shots away from the BIG prize and it began to feel like a high stakes Vegas game. 

The Sweet Taste of … 

I closed my eyes and sank my teeth into the first full inch of my footlong corndog, hoping it was as magical a flavor experience as I remembered from my childhood. Indeed … it wasn’t. But, I felt young again and was beaming back at my 14 year old as she held a BIG prize because, with much fanfare, I had made all six baskets in the basketball game. Strangely, though, the high for my child only lasted for a blip in time. 

“Mom, can we go back and do it again?” she asked. 

“No way,” I replied.

But, she said, she wanted the hot pink stuffed pig now. And the game was “really easy” for me, so it shouldn’t be a problem for me to win again. I agreed to go back but refused to be the one to play the game. “You want the pig?” I asked. “You earn the pig.” As I nibbled away at my footlong corndog, the teen missed the first basket, made the second one and then missed the third. “Mom, please do this for me,” she pleaded. I explained she had nothing to lose since the big prize was out of the realm of possibility now. And then Bruce interjected, again, pitching a deal that if I made the next four baskets, London could have the hot pink stuffed pig after all. 

I transferred my corndog to my left hand, so I could shoot with my right hand. 

“Ummm, Mom, you have to put your corndog down,” London said. 

“Yes, you should have her hold the corndog,” said Bruce. 

I smiled as I took a bite of the corndog and then shot the first basket. The ball bounced around the rigid rim and fell through the center of the net. Again, drawing the attention of a small crowd, I made the next three baskets, one-handed, while holding my corndog in my other hand. 

The sun was setting behind the giant swing ride as we left the fairgrounds, and I paused to capture a picture as I had imagined it. London stood watching, her arms wrapped around a large stuffed koala bear, and one giant, stuffed hot pink pig.  

Please find me on Facebook—and hop over to “like” the Nostalgia Magazine page—to stay connected between press dates, and share your thoughts, stories, and life in real time.

To taking the shot, reliving our glory days, footlong fair corndogs, teens, and never missing an opportunity to draw a crowd, 

Stephanie Regalado

stephanie@spokanecda.com

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