Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That Number Nine

One of the great things about my husband: he was not above a Low Entertainment.  It must have been amusing to take around a naive Ann T. and introduce her to pool halls. Especially low-life joints like Joker in the Pack.

So I learned to play pool in crazy joints and, to eat dubious tacos in places like Elena's No. 2. They were delicious. If you turned the tortilla back, you would see what looked like McDonald's french fries in there instead of papas fritas. The tacos were only 59 cents and I quit looking.

So, we had a date, driving down the road. These were always great. We liked to talk in the car. My future husband would detour for pretty-looking roads or street-side marvels. There was never any telling where we'd end up.

"Oh, look, a carnival," I said. "I've never been to one of those."

One U-turn later, we were parking in the grass. He flipped off the ignition.

"What do you mean, you've never been to a carnival? Like since you were eight?"
"I mean never. My dad thought they were tacky." I paused. "Low class."

"Let's go." He bopped out of the car and I jumped out like a Mark in a box.

We were early, so it wasn't crowded. The cotton candy was spinning. So were the rides. We rode the Spinning Spider, the merry-go-round. We went up the Ferris wheel because I've always wanted to go on a Ferris wheel. I am deathly afraid of heights, too, but that didn't matter.

At the top, it stopped. We were the only ones on it, so it must have been ordained. He started rocking the bench.
"Stop it!" I screeched.
He laughed. "Come on, there's a rail."
"When we start down," I begged. Shoot, when would that be?

Once down, we were both happy. I had been on a Ferris wheel at last. He had scared the daylights out of me. We sashayed into Shill's Boulevard, i.e., the arcades.

I cannot throw. Much. But my husband insisted. I tossed ping-pong balls at glass jars and lost all my tickets. He tossed ping-pong balls and lost all his tickets. Of course he had at least scored. We tried other games and lost more tickets. It was great. Eventually my guy presented me with a stuffed armadillo. Hey! And we'd only worked our way down one side of the arcade. That was probably a river of red tickets, but I wasn't keeping track.

At the end of the row, we reached the Kentucky Derby, much less detailed than the one above. You throw tennis balls and they go into a funnel. Every time a tennis ball goes down, your horse advances a notch. The carney calls it out just like it's flesh-and-blood horses instead of flat pieces of tin notching across a green  billboard.   "Number Two coming from the outside, what a slippery track! Number nine still ahead by a nose!"

Clang clang. "And we have a winnah! Number Nine!"

For some reason, those tennis balls were working for me. I won three races in a row, lost one to Number Two, and then won three more. I won something much like a crackerjack toy each time. This enabled me to trade up for a pink bear or something. Then we laid down more tickets and played again.  And I won again.

The crowd was starting to pick up, because we were laughing so hard. And the barker was good at the patter, with a carrying voice.

"Come on up and try your luck!" The carney called out to the bystanders. "Can anybody beat that Number Nine!"

Years afterward, when I would score somewhere in life, my husband would look at me and yell, "Can anybody beat that Number Nine!!"

I tell you, Low Entertainment kicks butt!!!! I also won my own stuffed armadillo at the Kentucky Derby. A nice matched happy set.


Unknown said...

I preferred The Hellhole ride at carnivals. You know the one that spins you so fast the centrifical force sucks you up against the wall and the floor drops out?!? Remember that one?? Always made me sick but I still went on it everytime.
I never won a stuffed armadillo. pffft. You were a lucky girl Annie in more ways than one. ;)

Slamdunk said...

Wonderful memories. We go to the annual fair here (the kids want to), and mom tries to keep the older boy from winning more goldfish--everything else is ok.

Bob G. said...

That's pretty cool.
It was always fun to go to the carnivals outside of the city...
Once in a great while, one would come to a city park, and it was always fun.

They also had the "shore" attractions...and we'd drive down there ONCE a year so my parents could hear me laugh my child butt off on the rides...LOL.

They're still around...you just have to look for 'em.
And they're worth it.

Momma Fargo said...

very cool story. Number nine!

I liked this a lot. Reminds us of what is good in people and entertainment...low or high. LOL.

Ann T. said...

Dear peedee,
OMG the Hellhole. I have been on one once. I though I would die.

OH, yeah, I was a lucky girl. We had a grand time most of the time.

I keep learning from these though, what kind of person I am--more interested in expeditions than dinners--how did I not know this?

Thank you!

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Oh, no goldfish! That is always a week-long story with no happy ending.

Yeah, the kids want to! I still want to, I know what that says about me!

Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
The next time I would like to go with my camera and shoot a disc full of pictures.

It sounds like the Shore was a special treat. I'd like to see that!

Thanks for the memory,
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Momma Fargo,
Yeah, an innocent pastime! We had so much fun. Thanks for stopping in!

Ann T.

The Bug said...

My Mom always said - don't you want something you can keep than to go to the fair - & bought us stuffed animals. I guess she didn't want to go. So I didn't ride a ferris wheel until I went with Dr. M. I was surprised at how scared I was when it stopped with us on top!

I probably shouldn't say anything, but I don't know why I'd hold my tongue now when I never do, but your story about how your husband would say "Can anybody beat that Number Nine!!" when you had a win in life - made me cry. Because he's not there to yell it now. Sigh.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
Oh, I'm so glad Dr. M. took you! I wonder why our parents didn't like it? Maybe it felt like opening the box to many long trips . . .

Thank you for your tears. I feel so much better than I did six months ago, Dana, and that's partly through working it out here with your sympathy.


The Observer said...

Ann T:
Those are great memories. Also I love how open you and your husband were to "low entertainment." My folks were kind of snooty this way, especially in their younger days--ya know, "Why would you be interested in that?" I think later in life they started connecting with the simple fun things. Maybe getting out of NYC helped with that.

Thanks for sharing this.

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
We had so much fun. My parents didn't know what they were missing.

It was a big adventure to me--a great date. And you're right, a great memory!

Thank you.
Ann T.

Christopher said...

"He bopped out of the car and I jumped out like a Mark in a box."

Loved that line.

Ann T. said...

Dear Christopher,
Thank you! I am going to attempt to tighten up the last part of this, I think the first part is better.

Ann T.

Christopher said...

Sure, from a technical standpoint, always good to hone the craft. But it's the sincerity of the post I dig, so don't change that one bit. Good writing should always evoke emotion or paint a picture. You've done both.

Ann T. said...