Greetings, WYMOP readers!
Do y'all remember that television show from the '90s called Touched by an Angel?
I do. And I had some sort of 'experience' this past weekend when Handsome's mother and I took him to the Topsfield Fair, and he --
Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself here. I'll start again.
...Here's the story:
~ ~ * * ~ ~
“I’m really good at this!”
“He did learn to shoot with the Scouts last year," I said.
Two seconds later Handsome was snatching the $5 bill his mother held out and spinning toward the booth behind him: the one with the cork gun. He laid the bill on the counter only to have it swept away by the woman running the game. She explained the way the gun worked and spread out a half-dozen or so corks in the same spot Handsome’s $5 had so recently occupied.
The game was simple, in concept: shoot the cork to knock the plastic cups off the shelves at the back of the booth and collect the points marked in the cups. The more points you have the higher you could go on the prize wall, at the top of which sat the pinnacle of her prizes: a 3-foot tall SpongeBob Squarepants.
Handsome started shooting. Cups fell. The booth girl did the math — and Handsome was standing right in front of us again, hands clasped beneath his chin in puppy-dog-eyed supplication.
Another $5 bill was swept away, another half-dozen or so corks spilled across the counter-top and Handsome was firing and reloading the gun like there was no tomorrow.
And then he was back before us again, blue eyes shining.
And again. And again. So many times I lost track, but I was pretty sure that $5 at a time that girl was collecting from Handsome the sum total of the National Debt as Handsome tried to build up enough points to walk out of there carrying that SpongeBob. I was there, I saw it all happening, but if anything I was even more helpless than his mother to resist Handsome’s blue-eyed onslaught.
Wait. Looking back I believe I misspoke: he wanted enough points to walk out of there with me carrying that SpongeBob for him.
Handsome’s point total climbed through ‘Small’, then ‘Medium’, growing higher and higher. I started asking passing folk if they could spot me a fin. Handsome kept playing. I kept panhandling. I had tied one of my legs back so I looked like an amputee and started affecting something that was either an accent or a speech impediment, I wasn't sure which, in order to keep some coins flowing into my cup before he tipped over: she added up his point total and he was barely into the ‘Large’ category. Barely, but there!
“I’ll take him,” he said, pointing a triumphant finger at the stuffed annoying sea-creature. He could barely speak for the smile on his face. It wasn’t there long.
“Sorry, hon,” said booth girl, “that one’s a ‘Jumbo’.”
He looked at the chart to see how many more points he would need for a Jumbo prize, then looked over at us. He saw I was busily working the crowd holding a ‘Will Work for Food’ sign, and turned back to booth girl with a dejected expression. He finally walked away from the booth carrying a 2-foot tall dreadlocked banana. A ‘Rastananna’.
Then he saw the next booth. Waist-high basketball hoops and half-sized basketballs.
“I’m really good at this!”
He ran to talk to the booth barker as I sat on the ground and wondered what my shoes would taste like. Despair crept up behind me and brutally clubbed me with a goofy-bat leaving me almost laughing, though my expression was that of a baby with terrible gas.
“How do I get up to your ‘Jumbo’ prizes?” Handsome said, cutting through all the BS like an 11-year-old with nothing to lose.
The booth guy, having watched the entire SpongeBob Saga unfold before him, looked to where we waited for Handsome. I had given up all hope and was lying on my sign sharpening a knife while Wife flagged down passers-by, trying to find one that might be interested in buying one of my kidneys.
“Do you have a job, son?” said the booth guy, giving Handsome a flinty squint.
“Uh… no,” said Handsome, taken aback.
“Well, then we ain’t even gonna talk about the Jumbos,” booth guy said, his words pulling me up and out of my poverty-induced coma. Hope. The man had given me hope.
There had been clouds on the horizon all day, and over the past half-hour they had been closing in, blotting out the blue sky and eradicating the light. As far as my tear-blurred eyes could see was shadow and darkness across the land… and then there was Light, a single, brilliant shaft that pierced the clouds to fall full upon the face of this man who could tell Handsome ‘No’.
An Angel. I had found an Angel. It was just like the television show.
I spun about, listening for an Irish accent. Looking for a white dove to fly overhead. Was decked by a large black woman I hugged, mistaking her, in my fervor, for Della Reese. Though to be honest, I’ve heard Della packs a mean left hook.
The clouds parted and the skies cleared as Handsome came back to us with the purple ball he’d just chosen from the lowest tier of prizes. My heart sang. I looked over to my Angel, trying to thank him with my eyes, and he nodded back with a twinkle and a grin. We moved off through the crowd to see the rest of the fair, and I was both bright of eye and light of heart…
“Oh! I’m really good at that!”
I felt a chill as a cloud passed overhead, then decided that directly over me was the place to be. I looked up at it, craning my neck back just in time to catch one fat raindrop, right between the eyes.
I started to dig out my sign again…
~ ~ * * ~ ~
So that was how I discovered it costs just over $90 an hour to entertain an 11-year-old at the Fair. Next year I think I'll just fly him out of town and put him up in a hotel for the ten days the Fair is in town.
It'll be cheaper.
Talk to you later!
....and this week's funny little video is brought to you by my friend Larisa, who posted it on Facebook so I could watch it again and again and laugh every damn time. Enjoy!