Dough boys, fresh-squeezed lemonade, rides inducing shrieks of laughter and rushes of adrenaline. All of these become almost palpable when a friend asks me to join her at the Bangor State Fair. To clarify, she mentions she’s going with her sister and nieces, and I unreservedly invite myself to tag along.
I haven’t been in years, but it’s just like I remember it. The sticky handle bars. The jean shorts and ferris wheel, like something straight out of a Tim McGraw song. The boat ride that seems to always change it’s name, but still evokes the same stomach-flip:
Lizzie and I join her niece and friend on the rides, and we are absolutely hysterical with laughter. We seem to be the oldest ones there, yet our sheer giddiness is unmatched. I mean, we are laughing so uncontrollably that we are full-on cackling. For writer’s elaboration- I don’t even like that word, but it’s the only way to accurately describe the noise escaping my throat.
Next is the infamous Zipper. It comes with a bit of a reputation, as it seems that everyone has a story about the spinning cages from when they were kids, no matter what generation. I promise Lizzie’s niece that I’ll join her. You know those stories of people demonstrating surprising bravery in times of fear and crisis? This is one of those times. When her clammy hand reaches for mine, I try my best to conceal the fact that my own is shaking.
Later, the four of us take on a spinning attraction. As I am sitting across from these two eleven-year-old girls, grinning widely and dancing to the music playing over the intercom like nobody’s watching, I want to freeze this moment. I want to make them promise me that they’ll never be “too cool” for this stuff. That they will be this carefree and present always. Too many of us reach a certain age and forget how freeing it is to be lost in joy, no matter how simple or small the moment. Even if it is just eating Dippin’ Dots ice cream under carnival lights.
So, if someone tells you the fair isn’t fun, I ask you to do a little investigating yourself. I’m curious if the people that turned their noses have actually ever been, or if they’re just assuming. In my opinion (though admittedly a very humble one), it is fun. For little kids and all of us big kids, too. The most fun I’ve had in a long, long time: the pee-your-pants, tears-running-down-your-face type that is hard to come by as a big, bad, serious “adult.” Way better than “catching up over drinks.” I wasn’t just reminiscing on the good ole days, that tender nostalgia that sometimes leaves you feeling heavy; I was making new memories. New inside jokes and shared moments, like if Lizzie were to ever mention “Hey Case – remember the time you threw up after we rode the Gravitron?” and then I can deny that particular instance ever happening.
In short, next summer, I’ll make it back to the Bangor Fair. No promises if I’ll be able to handle the Zipper again, though.