We were trapped. I held my daughter precariously in front of me, my shoulders weakening. Faint sunlight filtered in through the tiny vents above. Surrounded by filth and fecal matter, disease festering on ever surface. My grip was loosening. Her little body dangling over a pool of decayed filth and chemicals, certain death in physical form.
“Shit! Hold on, baby…hold on to Daddy! Pleeeeaase!”‘
But let’s rewind first before we get that little scene. As I left off in the last post, we were just making our way into the over-crowded annual Lilac Festival in our city park. As we shoved through the pounds of sweaty, smelly patrons and their over-heated dogs on too-long leashes that tangled in the feet of all that passed by, we had decided to make our first destination the kiddie carnival rides. We were at least going to make this fun for our child if anything.
I picked our daughter up and put her on my shoulders just as two pit bulls on flimsy leashes walked by, right at her face level. I don’t trust anyone’s fucking dog around my child, particularly in hot, crowded, confusing places like this for animals, where their agitation level is probably pretty goddamn high. I felt like biting every fucking person that bumped into me, I could only imagine how they felt. The owner gave me a self-righteous look that implied “Pit bulls are beautiful and loving dogs and the public fear in them is unfounded and a result of BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH”. Bitch, please. They’re living chainsaws.
I looked up, “There, up over the hill, is where the kiddie rides are, we can-OWWWW! FUCK!!”
A crushing sensation over my foot sent tears to my eyes. I staggered and my daughter nearly fell off my shoulders.
“Oh…sorry about that..he heh…” replied the yuppie bitch who had just pushed her toddler mega-stroller over my foot. I use the word “stroller” but that’s not apt. This thing was not simply to transport small kids around in a convenient manner. This thing had eight-inch, treaded tires for off-road support, shocks, a double wide passenger section, double canopy, about five different compartments for storage and 3 racks underneath for more storage. And their kid wasn’t even fucking in it! The thing was loaded like a fucking camper, like some doomsday preppers ready to make their last stand. They were packed to the crest with coolers, bags, toys…
I hopped back on my foot and shot her a look.
“Rick, don’t,” my wife cautioned.
“The thing is a fucking Hummer Stroller,” as we pushed on. It never ceases to amaze me what yuppies spend their money on, thinking the “biggest and most expensive” was what you bought if you “really cared”. Like that fucking stroller was really gonna play a deciding factor in their kid getting into Harvard. Or that other parents like us actually looked at them in envy. I felt the urge to pop another yuppie bubble, but suppressed it.
We got to the kiddie rides and bought a roll of over-priced tickets to get on ’em (the line to get tickets only took twenty minutes!) and then stood in line at the kiddie train for another solid fifteen minutes. When we finally got our little girl on and she was all buckled in, we stepped back and beamed. Her first solo run on carny ride. And she looked calm. The little girl in the car behind her…not so much. As soon as the ride started, the little blonde slid out of her belt and stood the fuck up. The attendant hit the E-stop and the girl tumbled forward into the lap of another kid. The father went ballistic, hopping the gate and screaming at his kid and shit. The girl looked like she was barely two. Her eyes wide with shock and tears. The father pushed her back into the seat and made some violent threat about not standing up, then he stepped back and the ride started up again. Our daughter was now enraptured in the drama unfolding behind her, as the little girl starting screaming and standing up again. Another E-stop and the another tumble and the father was hopping the gate again. Well shit…
Before he even got to the train, my foot had extended just enough to send him sprawling onto the grass.
“Oops.” I nodded to the attendant who let the little girl off and she was running over her daddy’s back and to her mother waiting arms, tears streaming down her face. The dad got up and gave me a look, but he wasn’t gonna do shit. “She was fine! She’s old enough! She can handle the train!” he screamed to everyone within twenty feet. Fuck, this guy was gonna have this girl snow plowing his driveway by the time she was four.
The ride finally finished and we moved on to the ferris wheel, with a line that snaked around the bend and ended somewhere in China.
“No. I’m not standing in this one. I just ain’t,” I said.
My wife sighed but I could see she had little more interest than me in standing in another line of attrition.
“Then we’re hungry, let’s head to the food tent,” she responded.
We pushed and shoved our way through the vendors and pavilions until we came up the hill to the gigantic food tent. The thing was like a circus tent, only all the animals inside were dead and ready for consumption. We muscled our way in and looked up in the horror: within the outer circle of food vendors were nearly four hundred people, shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back. There were no discernible lines to each of the vendors, just hordes of people pushing and shoving and flapping money in their outstretched hands. It looked like the floor of the stock market, except people were haggling for meats and fats fried in corn-syrup sauces and grease. Vertigo set in almost immediately. Trying to get you bearing was a hopeless task, you just bowed your head and tried to push along behind the first person you saw, hoping they would lead you to food.
At one point, we got pinned between a table of mindless zombies eating with their heads down, oblivious to the constant bumping and abuse they were receiving from the bulging crowds, and another table of mentally challenged adults who were on some kind of field trip. Now I’m no heartless bigot and have the kindest of hearts for our mentally challenged brethren…but when one of them has vomited all over his face and hand and is trying to eat it again…them vomits it back up…then starts to fling it in our general direction and paint my daughter’s hair with it…yeah, I get a little…upset.
I quickly scooped up our girl before her scalp could be pasted with what appeared to be cottage cheese and bile, and turned my back to him, hoping to avoid too much spray. Luckily my wife spoke up before I had to: “Yeah, um…who ever is taking care of this nice gentlemen….could you please get him cleaned up….HELLO…ONE OF YOU!? WHO AT THAT TABLE IS IN CHARGE? HEY! I SEE YOU LOOKING AT ME…SOMEONE CLEAN THIS GUY UP…..”
Okay, my turn. I handed our daughter to my wife and spun around to the guys wheelchair.
“OKAY!…COME ON, BIG GUY, WE’RE GOING FOR A DIP IN THE HIGHLAND POND. Can you hold your breath? Can you?!” as I began pushing his chair away from the table. He let out a “WEEEEEE!” and coughed up some more vomit.
“Umm, sir….*sigh* I have him. I’ll take him….”
It was some teenager that had obviously been saddled with way too much fucking responsibility while her superiors took full advantage of her “resume building” charity work and were probably “taking a moment” at the beer tent. Well, my heart can’t bleed for everyone.
“Okay, he’s all yours…”
I’d like to say we moved on from there…but we did not. The crowd barely budged. The smell of cooked meat and grease was everywhere, but none within reach. Plus, after Pukey McPukertan, I had pretty much lost my appetite, and I was really starting to get a bit of agoraphobia from all this shit. I just ain’t built for it. I yelled to my wife I wasn’t hungry and I would just wait outside the tent for her and our kid…and didn’t wait for a response.
Outside, I stood uncomfortably to the side, just looking at the masses of people…and it really started to hit me: almost everyone I looked at seemed fucking spent. Like miserable and not even trying to hide it. There were a few smiles and laughs, mostly from the beer tent, but most of these masses of faces looked exhausted and pissed. What the fuck were we all doing here? Why did we all try to force half our city’s populace in such a small area in one afternoon? There will be other days…other festivals. What drives us to engage in such hopelessly disastrous social events? Before I could even ponder the answer, my cell phone rang. I picked up and it was my wife from the far side of the tent.
“I got our food order in but I’m still waiting for it. Our daughter needs to pee…like right now.”
“Rick, come get our daughter and find a fuckin’ port-a-potty. And hurry.”
She wasn’t kidding…and the line went dead. I shoved my way back into the smelly pile of flesh within the tent, after nearly starting several fistfights and stepping on a toddler laying in the mud (it was an accident, and I’m pretty sure he was alive…thinking back, it may have been a doll but I really didn’t have time to look), I made it to my wife’s side. I bent down and scooped up our daughter and proceeded to shove my way back out.
“Do you really have to go, honey?”
“Yeah, I have to go pee.”
“You can’t hold it till mommy can take you?”
“No. I gotta go RIGHT NOW!” And when she says “Right Now” you got about sixty seconds, roughly.
Nice. And we were off. With her cradled in my arm I was jogging through the park at a steady clip, scanning the horizon for the purple shit-shacks like a desert dweller looking for an oasis. Every time I found a row, the lines were backed up twenty feet.
“Daddy, I gotta go….I gotta GO!” Judging by the pitch in her voice, we were down to the last twenty seconds, then the yellow river was gonna flow. We had circled back to the entrance and saw two purple shitters placed under a tree with only a couple folks in line. I ran up to the front of the pack a flashed my best mean-mug at the sucker already standing there.
“Hey, the line starts-”
“I will hurt you.”
One of the doors opened and a hefty gentlemen, also referred to as “fat ass”, lumbered out. We trotted up to the door and prepared to step in…then I got a good smell and even worse glance inside. It was a goddamn holocaust. A fecal war zone soaked in urine and blue sanitizer. Drenched toilet paper lined the floor and walls. Liquid shit coated half the seat and back wall. The toilet itself was nearly filled to the top in a mound of paper and…god, I don’t even know. I choked back vomit and quickly turned away.
“Oh GOD….oh god….we can’t go in there, honey.”
“Daddy…I gotta pee right now! I GOTTA-”
Bile crept into my mouth. “…*hmph*…baby, I can’t take you in there…daddy can’t…” then she started crying.
Oh fuck me. Time to be “tough daddy”.
“Okay. Listen to me. Put your hands against your chest and keep them there. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING! Keep your eyes closed. Daddy is going to hold you over the toilet.”
She nodded quickly. I picked her up and walked back in and locked the door behind us. With one movement, I hiked her pants down and held her in front of me in a squatting position, her tush hovering over the toilet, my back muscles locked in agony.
“Okay. Don’t open your eyes. Don’t move your hands…just pee.”
“Daddy, you’re shaking…put me down-”
“Shit! Hold on, baby…hold on to Daddy! Pleeeeaase!”‘
“Just PEE! PEE RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT! Daddy’s shoulders are gonna break off…”
I suddenly heard the heavenly sound of tinkling beneath us, as my legs joined my back in trembling. I was holding my breath, but the sights were doing serious mental damage. I had never seen such filth in my worst nightmares. Such massive quantities of human waste seething all around me.
“Hurry, honey…god hurry…”
“Okay, daddy. I’m done.”
I hiked her pants up in one more quick motion, reached behind me to unlock the door and slammed my way out backwards. I made it a few steps before plopping my daughter on the ground and vomiting against a tree. I looked up and a small crowd was standing around us. I wiped my mouth and smiled.
“Beautiful day, huh?”
I scooped my girl back up and walked to an open area on the grass and sat us down. My cell phone jingled. I answered to my wife on the other end.
“I got the food, where are you?”
“We’re at the entrance. Bring the food, we’re going home.”
“We just got-”
“I nearly dropped our daughter in seething pile of shit and piss. I’m calling it a day, dear. And I’m calling a cab.”
“…a seething pile of shit?”
“Love ya!” and I hung up.
Twenty minutes later, we were piling into a cab to go about three miles back to our car. After recounting our daughter brush with toxic death, my wife spent the car ride home cradling our little girl and stroking her head, “We almost lost you….we almost *sob*…”.
As we pulled into our driveway and my family was walking inside, I walked to our garage with purpose and came out with an axe. My wife didn’t cry out in terror, however…she knew what I was doing…and she approved.
I walked calmly to the back yard and proceeded to chop our lilac bush to kindling. The Lilac Festival was over.