Friday, September 17, 2010

A York Fair Fable

Here in York County, PA every September after Labor Day we have the York Fair. It’s the oldest county agricultural fair in the United States at 245 years. The York Fair has happened every year since 1765, which is pretty amazing.

I went to the fair last Saturday and it was a lovely day. The Sun was showering us with healthy rays, leaving out the gamma, x-rays and the ultraviolet radiation. Clouds danced across the sky doing a delicate samba. Mothers were reading poetry to their children while fathers hummed madrigals in the background. As I traipsed down the midway, bluebirds alighted on my arms, singing a song they had written for me extolling my virtues and damning my enemies.

A few hours into my day at the fair, however, I made the acquaintance of the worst merchant/salesman the blackest depths of hell has ever produced. Ok, that’s overselling him, but he really bugged me. His claustrophobic tent was crammed to the rafters with t-shirts, baseball hats, stickers and sundry crap he bought off of EBay. I went in to look around and the first thing that irritated me like a prickly heat rash was that he didn’t have the price of anything displayed. If you wanted to know how much something cost you had to ask about each item, picking his brain like snatching a grape from the vine. Feeling my annoyance, the bluebirds sat outside the tent beating a drum for my vexation.

I don’t know the merchant’s name but I shall refer to him as Dipshit McGee. I perused Dipshit’s merchandise and found myself interested in 3 Philadelphia Phillies baseball caps. In my friendliest voice I asked, “Dear shop keep, pray how much legal tender are you asking for your baseball-logo adorned chapeaus?” Instead of looking at me and engaging me in conversation, Dipshit folded a t-shirt, responding briskly, “They’re all different prices.” The bluebirds’ drum beat got louder.

Continuing to fold his precious shirt he asked, “Which ones are you interested in?” I replied in a humble tone “Why, the triumvirate of Philadelphia Phillies caps hither”, and I helpfully pointed with my index finger.

Here is what I was looking for in an answer: taking a cue from my helpful first digit, Dipshit McGee walks over and using his own pointing finger, illustrates each hat one at a time and says, “This one is $8, this one is $12 and this one is $25, good sir.”

This is the answer I received: “They’re anywhere from 8 to 25 dollars” Dipshit mumbled disinterestedly while extending his love affair with the folded shirt, petting it in a seedy, sexual way while calling it “my darling Clementine” and puffing breaths from his cheeks like a woman in labor. At this point the bluebirds’ drumhead rolled like the rushing ocean waves in my ears.

I don’t know whether he was insulted by my receding hairline, didn’t believe that I actually had $8 in my pocket, or perhaps he believed his existence of selling trinkets from a tent in between cattle judging and hot tub sales was a hollow mockery of what life should be and for this he hated all his customers. Whatever the reason I determined I would not spend one ducat in his tent. I threw him a stout, “good day” and left his shop. As I passed my honor guard of bluebirds I instructed them, “Burn it down boys.”

A few vigorous flutters of their hearty wings and an ember from the stove fire of the Italian sausage shop next door lit the offending tent. By the time the blaze started I was long gone, already in line for my chocolate milkshake.

The moral of the story? Act like you want my 8 bucks you piece of crap. I know, it’s not as lofty and poetic as the messages in Aesop’s fables, but I’m working on it.

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