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the BIG GB Carnival
July 31, 2002, 5:21pm

The BIG GB Carnival is in full swing. The BIG GB Carnival is always the week of or preceding my birthday (last week of July/first week of August) and brings out the best and worst of GB and surrounding metropolitan areas.

When I was little, my mother was afraid of taking us there because the BIG GB Carnival seemed to unearth the frightening GB element: leather pants/shirts, mullets, spikes, punk hairdos, sleeve tattoos, little to no dental hygiened freaks that would simply walk around the kiddie rides hitting on single mothers. Now, all of those nasty people still go to the carnival, but they're surrounded with families: tiny unwashed urchins with ice cream on their faces, another pregnant acid-washed bride, another mulleted child with inflatable alien in hand as the family drifts from one booth to the next.

And damned if they aren't having a great time.

You can see it in everyone's face: it's the BIG GB Carnival; it's the virtual reunion for every GB person every single year. From the ones that never left (or graduated) to the ones that are "too good for GB now", the BIG GB Carnival brings us all together for that brief period where we can all agree that "DAMN, Funnel Cakes are good!" and the ticket pull games are far easier to win than the wheel spinny ones.

We went last night, and I saw about nine of my students enjoying cotton candy and lugging around impossibly huge stuffed animals. I drank fresh lemonade and ate cream-cheese stuffed pretzels and pistachio ice cream. I won the damn goldfish (even though I didn't really want to play, but it's tradition and of course I won) and a huge alien thing for my classroom. I saw a few people whom I haven't seen since I graduated from high school or since the last BIG GB Carnival. Heidi was mortified that she was "truly GB" now, as she walked along, pregnant and eating a grape snoball, without her husband beside her.

Had I not been there with Heidi, Jill, and Ann, I would have made a beeline for the Zipper--my favorite ride--but they were less than enthusiastic about the decrepid rides (and in Heidi's condition, she'd be the purse holder anyway). Pat Owens kissed me for the first time as we rocked back and forth at the top of the Zipper--the top of GB--in 9th grade. There are few things in my life that compare to that feeling of kissing in an ancient carnival ride as one is about to be hurled around and upside down without warning.

Ah, the BIG GB Carnival...I will take my children to bask in your forever outstretched, loud, clanging, caramel popcorn-strewn arms.

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