When I was at the Indiana State Fair, I joked that it would probably be the best people watching of my life. Despite the fact that I saw everything from freshly cut mullets to belly dancing 80 year old ladies to adorable old farmers, I think I left part of my heart with a little boy and old man I saw sitting on a bench.
It was pretty expensive to get into the fair- $8 per person. Two people = $16. Food on average is at least $4 per item and drinks are more than $2.
We were walking to the pork station and right before the covered bridge, I saw the most adorable little boy. He was sitting there with his Grandpa. I think African American babies are the cutest of all- even though he wasn't a baby- he was about 3 or 4. He was beautiful. He was in a plain white t-shirt and jean shorts. While he was sitting there calmly, I looked into his eyes and saw them moving with all the excitement in the world. The little boy was sitting on the edge of bench. His little feet were dangling and his eyes were glued at every kid's favorite part of ANY fair. The rides and games.
His Grandpa was sitting forward too, kind of leaning over with his elbows on his knees. He was soaking in the tractors there were passing through in a parade. The elderly man was in deep thought and didn't have a single emotion embedded on his face. He was truly enjoying his surroundings. He was wearing jeans and an old t-shirt with a brown hat. He must have been extremely hot.
I studied them a little more. Neither one of them had anything to eat or drink. No tickets in their hands for rides. When I got closer, I saw the little boy had sweat building up on his forehead. Bless his heart, he was sweating so bad- but never complained. His soul smiled and his eyes showed every ounce of his happiness--simply to be at the fair.
I haven't been able to let the image of that little boy sitting their peacefully with his Grandpa escape my mind. What if his Grandpa had saved all he could just to take his little grandson to the fair? Did they ever eat anything? Did they get to enjoy some of the shamefully delicious fair food? And more importantly, did he ever get to go on any rides and smile at his Grandpa every time he passed by?
I'll never know.
And part of me wishes I would have just bought the little boy tickets for the rides or games. Or a drink. Sweet tea is my favorite. What about fried cheese balls? Those are my absolute addicting- especially with ranch dressing. Pizza- every kid loves cheese pizza. I'm sure I could have gotten anything and he would he light up the whole world with his smile.
I can only hope they were just resting. And believe that they have all the money in the world. And it was all in my creative mind to come up with this story. That's the thing about being a writer- I always make up stories for people. Somtimes I'm right and most of the time I'm wrong. But sadly, this time I think I'm right.
But it taught me something- you should always cherish your childhood memories. Because alot of children don't get to make childhood memories. They struggle to get by and barely see the world. No family vacations or "out to eat" nights.
I encourage you to think back and smile thinking about every blast of air that met your face on a fun fair ride as a kid. And let your mouth drool thinking of every refreshing drink your parents bought you when you were a kid, when you were always begging for more.
More importantly, share....share your memories with others. Share your time/money/efforts with those who need it. You'll never, ever know how much you can shapes someones life simply by showing you care. Buying them a drink. Or giving them an extra ticket- even if you bought it for them in the first place.