In the next tent, the World’s Largest Man lounged with rolls of naked flesh spilling around the room a la Jabba the Hutt. We stared. I couldn’t eat my corn dog. Finally Aunt Lavern broke the awkward silence. So, tell us what you eat for breakfast? He recited his daily menu of a dozen eggs, two pounds of bacon, a loaf of bread, a jar of grape jelly. Mortified, I dropped my corn dog in the sawdust-covered floor. Today Jabba could get his own realty television show or at least fifteen minutes with Dr. Oz.
Step right up folks! What I’m about to describe will shock and amaze you. Remember the sideshow freaks at the carnival? Living Frog Boy, Magical Fire-Eater, Atasha the Gorilla Girl… I grew up during that wonderful time before political incorrectness when human oddities were the main attraction rather than the norm.
Every year Momma and Aunt Lavern took my sister, cousin and me to the Mid-South Fair in Memphis. Every year we made a beeline for the freakshow tent.
One year in particular we spent half an hour staring at the Alligator Woman. She was old and wrinkled and covered chin to toe in tattoos which made her look downright reptilian. Multiple tattoos? Unheard of beyond the fantastic carnival world.
Ahhhh the good old days…
Before our very eyes, the sideshow has morphed into display booths where people peddle wares including the latest choppers and grinders and slicers and dicers you didn’t know you needed. How on earth have humans cooked all these years without a tool guaranteed to provide hours of delight while magically transforming radishes into flowers?
Take a seat in the corner booth and straighten your frizzy humid Dallas mane using the latest hair gadgets as seen in Elle Magazine…
And in another booth at the State Fair of Texas…don’t miss out on the latest snake oil…a free Botox injection. Seriously. Botox handed out like Girl Scout cookie samples.
Sadly, for the same outrageous cost as a funnel cake, our only organized sideshow option is wedged between the kiddie rides and candied apples—the world’s smallest turtle and his cousin the albino. Who cares! Bring back Dickie the Penguin Man. If you want turtles to draw a crowd at the fair today, you’d have to serve ’em chicken fried with a side of cream gravy. Then the line would circle Big Tex.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Verne Langdon’s Carnival of Souls