Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Gravitron sends out its Metallica siren song from the Parish lawn, and from all the corners of town come Catholic school children and their hard-working parents, nubile young girls, and the boys, who’ve not yet thought to return their stare, and miles and miles of bleached, frosted, split and tied up hair. Pale men stamp out their cigarettes, then head down into the multi-purpose room for black jack and a spin of the roulette. The Parish Festival with hopes to win the funds to execute our Mighty Lord’s call, brings us with all of our sin to the public square for a rollicking fall.
In the underground kitchen the women cook with sweat on our foreheads and a frequent look at the clock that tells us when the crowds will arrive. In the wee morning hours I cracked eighty eggs, sifted one hundred cups of flour, stood and stirred til I was weak in the legs, and drizzled the dough on the fryer. We load our cakes in a pan and send them up to the stand for purchase and possibly to clog an artery and claim a well-worn life.
When my shift is over I walk home from Church, past carnie trailers and a merry go round. My children, anticipating a Poor Jack ride, race to the door at the sound of my return. “Can we go now?” “I want to ride the Pirate ship!” with its rickety pulleys and chains and greased up rails, I shudder, envisioning my children’s entrails kersplatting on the Parish parking lot. “Sorry, my dears, the cost is just too high for each and every one of you to buy five tickets apiece for one measly ride.” So they all lay down at my feet, and cried. “Maybe you can try to win a gold fish at the ring toss,” I say, calculating in my head, the odds of my children’s aim and the likelihood of loss.
It’s a deal we make, that I will take them for a quick turn past the scary half-clad dame on the fun house wall, so they can see the rides they will not ride, if they promise not to whine or bawl when I say it’s time to go home. But I should have been more wise, than to think a glimpse of the moon walk, and the smoking pit where the Knights of Columbus grill turkey thighs, would satisfy my star struck, festival happy little guys. Each one I had to physically remove from the crowd, load into my van with reassurance of my love. The festival, with its head-banger music and obscene tees, will always be more for the enjoyment of other families.