Jerry Nelson: Fair advice

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum

“Have you fallen lately?” the doctor asked.

Sadly, I have reached the age where that question can arise during routine medical exams.

I gave the matter some thought.

“I used to fall all the time,” I began. The physician furrowed his brow.

“But things gradually got better,” I quickly continued. “By the time I was two years old, I hardly fell down at all.”

This might be difficult to believe, but I was once a little boy. Like many boys, I couldn’t wait to grow up and have grownup experiences such as driving a car, owning my own house, painting the house any darn color I wanted, cleaning out the gutters, servicing the mortgage, paying real estate taxes…

Hmm. Maybe rushing to become a grownup wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Having been a kid, I feel it’s incumbent upon me to pass along advice to the youngsters who are currently navigating the choppy waters of childhood. I see this as my way of paying it forward.

Say that you’re a kindergartner and that you and your parents are motoring to the state fair. It’s the sworn duty of the youngster to whine every half minute or so, “Are we THERE yet?”

When your parents reply, “For the thousandth time, no! We’ll be there soon, so be quiet!” the youngster is obliged to kick the back of the driver’s seat, wait a few seconds and repeat the aforementioned question.

Arriving at the fair, the child should promptly ignore all of his or her parents’ admonitions to stay close to them so as to not become lost. Skillful tykes will dart just far enough ahead of their plodding progenitors to make the adults begin to panic and call out the child’s name. The mischievous munchkin should then allow themselves to be “found,” at which point the parents will repeat their warnings. The child should respond by rolling their eyes like dice on a craps table.

Speaking of which, be sure to beg your parents for money so that you can play all of those fascinating midway games. The adept child will have perfected his or her “puppy dog eyes” and delivering a pathetic and drawn-out “Pleeaase!” And there is no way that any of the games might be rigged! Look! There goes a kid who’s carrying a stuffed bear the size of an actual grizzly!

Once the family arrives at the carnival, the child should ignore all those stodgy admonitions regarding fair food. Try to eat as much as you can of such wholesome delicacies as cotton candy, caramel apples and anything that has been fried in smoking hot oil and served on a stick.

After consuming more calories than a Percheron could in a single day, the expert child will opt to partake of the carnival rides. Never mind those tattooed, skeevy-looking ride operators with their jack-o’-lantern dentition or the fact that the carnival ride appears to have been manufactured fifty years ago in the former Soviet Union. You’re there to have fun, darn it!

So, slide aboard the Scrambler and ride on the rickety roller coaster. Enjoy the thrills of the Death Plunge and relax during your time on the Intestine Wringer.

You say you suddenly don’t feel so well? All of those extreme centrifugal forces don’t seem to be agreeing with you? Be sure to inform your parents of this situation moments before you call for Ralph. Share this experience with them. It will be greatly appreciated.

By the end of the day, you will have walked and ran approximately 30 miles in your effort to take in the entire fair. Your parents will have put in 60 miles in their effort to keep tabs on you.

Your weary and footsore parents will eventually decree that it’s time to go home. It’s the child’s duty to reply, “But we just got here! I don’t want to go!” These are lies of course, but tradition demands that you say these things in your loudest and whiniest voice. Refuse to leave, forcing your parents to take you by the hand and physically pull you toward the car. Better still is if you can convince the adults to carry you.

Once ensconced in the car, kick the back of the driver’s seat several times. Continue to bleat your stream of complaints.

As you motor toward home, whatever you do, don’t fall! Asleep, that is. You wouldn’t want to deprive your parents of your thoughts regarding how unfair they are.

And should you tumble into slumber, don’t grin when your parents glance back at you and say, “At least he’s good when he’s asleep.”

Jerry Nelson