Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Saturday, 23 September 2006

My Life as a Carny

I spent four days at the Puyallup Fair. I needed some extra funds these days, and no work was coming in with Kelly Educational Staffing, and I thought it might be a hoot to see what it's like to work a carnival. It was definitely...interesting.

The Puyallup Fair is often called "The Fair", as it seems it's the biggest in the area around here. I mean huge enough and permanent enough that they have lines painted on the sidewalk telling you how to get around and where the exit is. This is a county fair with gigantic buildings- barns- put up everywhere. Where businesses everywhere record their providence not as much by the years as the century they've been in business at the fair.

Many tight things at this fair. At times I felt like I was back in a souq again. I wonder if people like fairs because, for just a moment, it brings them back the close-knit markets we once had in the West. Music played on the corners, like the Peruvian band above, or some young men improvising drums from water bottles, frying pans, and a hanging stop sign. One stall had some Full Gospel Businessmen who had a pretty neat setup- 2 questions that would tell you whether or not you were saved. But when I approached them I found they were oinkafre oref, more interested in giving their spiel then in listening to what I or others had to say in response to the questions. The fair had tons of exhibits, rides, and hawking of wares, like the Smart Car, common in Europe but just entering the U.S., cute, strange, and getting 60 miles to the gallon. And beautiful display contests. My favorite was the one above, with a moving clock, composed entirely of fruits and vegetables. As the nights got colder I spent more and more time at the electric and wood stove displays next to the jacuzzis, as they had real fires in the stoves.

Also present were some rather Scary Purple Dancing Thingis. As you can see, I really can't be more specific than that.

I spent the most of my free time with the animals. They had an exotic animals barn, with Watusi Cattle, 4-horned Jacob's Sheep, emus, reindeer, and yes, zedonks.

What's a zedonk? I'm glad you asked. Zebras and Horses can of course mate, they being separate species through geographic isolation rather than anything morphological. And likewise horses and donkeys. (Leading to the great comment: You're behaving like a mule. But at least your father is like a stallion.) Though I'd never heard of it before, evidently a donkey and a zebra can also mate, producing some rather surprising results.

Here you can see see the zebra and the zedonk caressing each other, perhaps nibbling off parasites.

There were also more traditional animals, including these draft horses, some of them clydesdales. I'm in the picture for perspective. I prefer to call them trunkless elephants.

But the most wonderful, of course, was when I got to spend some quality one-on-one Family Time with the pigs. I had some good conversations with a couple in the main barn, scratching and petting them. I have missed them so much! It was my first time in years to be around them. One of the piglets, to demonstrate again their superb intelligence, escaped out a wire hole. Another was working on the gate latch to open it while I was talking with her.

And that was the carnival. But where I spent almost the entire time was the Ducky Derby, a game where you reach in an pick a duck. I would have been happy to spend more than four days there, but we were required to stand the entire time, with I think a slight carpal fasciitis as a result. The company, Funtastic, hires pretty much anyone, including felons- so you were given $100 to make change, and then could not put your hands into any pockets at any time unless you were changing for a customer. While an understandable precaution, this increased the stress of standing, and naturally didn't create a lot of empowerment. I think I didn't quite fit in there. Those I was working with were surprised to find I read on every break, and spent their time talking about beauty treatments and alien presences. Actually, it wasn't until the final and fourth day that I realized that all of the other 9 people working at my booth were women. My observational skills need a lot of work. Evidently there were a lot of men working the beginning of the carnival, but they all got fired for stealing.

The Ducky Derby is a very complicated game. You must reach in, and grab a duck. If you do so, you win. Obviously, this is a game that very small people enjoy, and therefore what the game lacked in suspense was made up for in seeing the joy of the little children as they won different prizes. Some older folks coming by couldn't believe how easy it was, so I'd demonstrate, pretending that the ducks were very heavy. Every duck had a S, M, or L written on it, indicating the type of prize you would receive- all stuffed animals. As long as I could stand, I seriously enjoyed it, because of the little children playing a game they could win, and get a prize for. Eventually I developed a patter, like the sellers do in Hay Hassani, Morocco, where I used to live, "$2, $2, $2, $2, Play the Ducky Derby, Everyone's a Winner, Guaranteed to Win, Ev-ery Time!"

Finally, after four days, I finished my time, and found the most wonderful booth in the world. They sell $200 electric massagers, which are the closest thing to a human massage in the machine world. But they also have free samples, where you can sit in the chair for 15 minutes letting the machine kneed down your back. I availed myself of this little bit of perfection twice, pressing in to increase the strength of the massage, letting it drop down, until the rest was all pleasure and peace.


drh said...

I prefer the term zonky, but I suppose zedonk works.

joe said...

Believe it or not, I can really imagine you as a carny. Glad you had fun with it (aside from the constant standing).

@bdul muHib said...

Well, Zedonk was the official name for it I guess- but I like Zonky too.

quaintance said...

A Zonkey is a zebra/donkey hybrid.
A zeedonk is a zebra/horse hybrid. Both of these hybrids as unidirectional (sire must be one species, dam the other and not the other way around )but I forget which. It has to do with teh fact that they don't actually have the same # of c-somes, and this makes more of a difference in one direction than the other, for some reason. I think a male can get away with less DNA, female physiology being -slightly- more complicated (making eggs is HARD!) I believe the offspring are sterile. A quick google search on hybrids can answer lots of questions, my students and I learned. Wolphins are another hybrid; Ligers are real and exhibit the effects of offspring size control (ligers, a hit with students, are bigger than lions OR tigers!) Hybrids, esp. Zeedonks, were on teh state exam this year!

Plants often deal with the problems of inequal c-some number by just doubling all of them. That's why you have ferns with like 132 -pairs- sometimes....

@bdul muHib said...

Thanks for that information and thought, Anne! However, at the fair they were saying it's parents were horse and donkey; and everywhere I look online it says a Zeedonk is both horse and donkey as well.

Weird about the Wolphin- dolphins are a type of whale, so it's hard to make sense of that one.

I have to say though, total respect from me- all the energy put into eggs is a *lot* of work.

quaintance said...

Duh. See how tired I was. I meant to say that a ZORSE was a horse/zebra hybrid.

drh said...

Hybrids are fascinating.

Lauren said...

Wow. What a post!

Is that something you think you'll do again?

@bdul muHib said...

Maybe, but probably not. The plantar fasciatus was quite painful. Unless I got some good ergonomic shoes, I don't think I can stand like that for long periods of time anymore.

Looking forward to that new body.

E.T. said...

Those are some CRAZY looking animals! Cool!