It’s Fair Week here in Dekalb County, Indiana. The carnies and their Tents Of Questionable Odors blew into town a week ago and will be gone for another year in just a few hours.
When I was younger I used to love going to the fair and bumping into friends and family as I strolled the town square. Not anymore. Now that I’m older I realized that everyone comes out to the fair. Everyone. The kind of Hoosiers that most people out-of-state think of when they think of a Hoosier. I’m not quite sure where these people come from, as the other 51 weeks of the year they are mysteriously absent. Not that I’m complaining. I’m just not a fan of the hillbilly.
Recently Dad and I did some work for some friends of ours. We attended the same church with them before I moved away from Indiana in ’92 and their daughter Amy was in the youth group with me. I had a chance to meet Amy for some coffee and catch up on the last 15 years.
We met at my favorite coffee shop in town, which is also her favorite, but that initially presented us with a problem. The cafe is located right in the middle of the town square where the fair is located and that meant we’d both have to traverse through the masses. We decided to brave the crowds if for no better reason than to make fun of the people walking by. If you know me you know that’s definitely something I could be down with.
As Amy and I sat and commented on the passers-by (believe me, the fair attendees did not disappoint) we talked about old times and I even told her the story of my uncle on my mom’s side who had a long history of disappearing for years at a time and one day popped up driving a semi with a roller coaster ride in tow. That’s right. Uncle Kenny had become a carny. I don’t know how long he…”carnied” because that same afternoon he showed up he disappeared again for another few years.
Amy didn’t believe my uncle was a carny and I can’t say that I blame her. Believe me, when he pulled up in that huge yellow semi and I heard my brother say in awesome wonder Uncle Kenny is a carny! none of us could believe it either.
About this time two men dressed from head to toe in I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Harley-Davidson black leather approached the coffee shop. Leather jackets, pants, and boots were part of the get-up as well as the obligatory red, white, and blue bandanas. One of the biker guys was holding a small pink stuffed monkey. And that’s all I needed.
I began to go on about the dichotomy between the biker and the pink monkey and how I would never have chosen those two to go together. Remember in elementary school the paper your teacher gave you with pictures of different people (a policeman, a baker, a cowboy) on one side and various objects (a police car, a chef’s hat, a cowboy hat) on the other and you had to draw a line connecting each character with their appropriate prop? Well, I would have never drawn a line from leather-clad motorcycle guy to pink stuffed monkey.
As fate would have it, the two old bikers decided to come in to the coffee shop. Amy and I had moved on to another subject by this time, but I couldn’t help but notice out of the corner of my eye the Biker With Monkey lurking a little too close to me. He took a step toward me and I could feel him staring at us.
Why is this guy gonna ask us for money I thought to myself. That’s what Amy and I get for dressing like normal regular people and having full sets of teeth.
“What’s a character like you doing here?” I heard the biker say to me and was happy I spent what was left of my cash on my chocolate mocha. At least I wouldn’t be lying when I told the guy I didn’t have any money on me.
I turned and looked at the guy and then really looked at him and in that instant I knew I would be blogging about this event. There standing beside me, dressed in leather and clutching a pink stuffed monkey, was Uncle Kenny.
We talked briefly and I pointed out to him the amusing fact that he was dressed in black leather and holding a pink monkey (at least I said it to his face and wasn’t two-faced about it, right?) and he got a good chuckle out of it. Afterward I told Amy I should have learned a lesson. There I was making fun of someone I thought was a complete stranger and it turned out to be my uncle. That should teach me not to judge people just by the way the look.
It should, but it probably won’t.