To my wife, the Minnesota State Fair is the exclamation point of summer, a perfect day with family, the great Minnesota get-together! Her bones are aching for a day of cheese curds, Luigi fries, and people-watching. She hears that stupid voice on the radio and wiggles like a worm.
It starts today, and everybody’s excited. Everybody except me.
I hate the state fair.
I leave for work every morning at 6:30 a.m. and already traffic has begun to thicken and slow. I hear the commercials and see the posters and shiver. I tried it once a few years ago and was traumatized. If Hell is indeed other people, the seventh circle is right over in Midway. Everything my wife is excited for, I look forward to living without.
Maybe it’s because I was born with my father’s miserly genetics, and I have a hard time paying $20 to park in some schmuck’s front yard and walking six blocks for … grilled donuts? I’d look at the price and hear his voice: “You … do realize you could grill a doughnut at home, right? It isn’t that difficult. You put the doughnut on your grill, and turn it on. Presto. Grilled doughnut. It would be $5 cheaper and probably taste better.”
Maybe it’s because I grew up in little ol’ Duluth, learning to avoid the Grandma’s Marathon crowds in Canal Park. People who grew up with the fair see people and people-watch; I see people and mentally map my way past them.
Maybe it’s because I have a hard time walking without purpose. I don’t like to meander, and that mindset doesn’t work for the Fair. It’s like when we’re in the car, and I’m raging behind a pokey Subaru in the fast lane.
“Calm down,” she’ll say, “We’re not in a hurry to get anywhere.”
“Yes we are!” I’ll contend. “Otherwise, we’d all be on horseback.”
Maybe it’s because I find it pathetic how excited you are to see roadkill like Hanson and Macklemore. I felt that weird second-hand embarrassment for my wife when she admitted that, if not for a wedding that weekend, she would be there to see Mr. Should’ve-Stopped-After-Thrift-Shop. Music on a Stick aside, the Grandstand line-up is depressing: Smash Mouth? Dwight Yoakam? Dana Carvey? They won’t be panhandling on stage, will they?
And why are we so excited to see the Internet cat? I thought the Internet was over the Internet cat.
An Aside That Matters: A hip-hop legend like Talib Kweli is A SPECIAL GUEST… for MACKLEMORE!? How is Kweli not insulted? I really hate society sometimes.
It all adds up to a guy the Great Minnesota Get-Together just isn’t for. I’ll never understand what turns the masses on beyond that service road off Lexington Avenue. As I do every year, I’ll be fleeing the crowd. While you’re in line for your blank-on-a-stick, I’ll be trying to capitalize by hitting a perennial hotspot and hoping it’s empty.
“But what about if we went, just you and I?” my wife asked as we lay in bed the other night.
“What if we have kids? Then you HAVE to go. The State Fair is so magical for a child. I remember some of my best memories as a kid were at the fair.”
“Your brother will be old enough to help chaperone.”
She had nothing. Well, no, she had something:
“I’m gonna write a rebuttal that says, ‘You suck and you’re dumb!‘”
She rolled over and went to bed.