Thursday, August 22, 2013

State Fair Parking

It is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, the annual extravaganza of people watching, livestock judging and deep, deep fried food.

I don't think I can make it over this year, but just thinking about it brings back many fond memories.

Back in the Day, we are talking perhaps 13 or 14 years ago, there was an active robot combat organization along the lines of a Midwestern Battle Bots.  There were two years where we put on elaborate robot combat events/shows at the Fair and they were great fun.  With numerous shows per day over the run of the Fair we did not do much "to the death" fighting, but a lot of sparring, smashing of appliances and what I like to call "robot theater".  On very popular feature was cooked up - literally - by my son and I. An audience member operating a cheap RC car would try to evade pursuit by a menacing robot for two or three minutes.  The robot had a flame thrower.  The RC car was packed full of paper towels soaked with flammable stuff and surmounted by a small inflatable toy of the sort available from carnival barkers up and down the Fair grounds.  Ah, good times, good times.

In any case, there was an awful lot of heavy stuff to off load for this event and we were very fortunate indeed to have one of our stalwarts live across the street from the Fair grounds.  We were allowed to park there.  Since he had in past years experienced difficulty with unapproved parking, which he gleefully had towed off, he just asked that we put a note on the windshield indicating we were with the robotics event.

Here is my note:


I could see that my friend Professor Richard was in a bad way.  He lay motionless, ashen pale.  His normally elegant coiffure was a matted "fro" with embedded Cheetos.  He stirred a bit as I approached.

"Closer.  Come...closer", he croaked.

I hesitated.  On a good day his breath falls somewhat short of Fresh-n-Minty, and under the current circumstances....

Overhead one of the circling buzzards wobbled, fell out of formation and hit the ground with a soggy thud.

"I want to apologize.  For, ...for the monkeys......and the Cool Whip."

The effort of speech triggered a spasm of dry heaves and retching.  Recalling the charred monkey fur still adherent to my living room ceiling I was more than a little inclined to join him.

"Richard", I said, "fear not.  All is forgiven."

A serene look spread over his haggard features, and when he opened his eyes again they were earnest, insistent.

"Tacitus*, you have to promise me something.  Please tell me that you will always park on my lawn at State Fair time".

I was for a moment caught off guard.  State Fair parking is a serious matter indeed.  There were so many things I could have told him.  I could for instance have pointed out that he was not actually ill, just badly hung over.  But there are times when you just need to speak the words that must be said.  And I did.

"Richard, when the State Fair arrives I will be here."

*Tacitus is a new nom-de-plume.  I have been known by other names in other times.

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