Today, while at the Tennessee State Fair, I was reminded of two things which bother me, though in totally different ways, mind you.

At the Krystal burger eating competition (officially called “The Krystal Square-Off”), there was a group of men—some large, some not so large—and a very petite woman, weighing only 105 pounds, named Juliette.  There was one other woman as well, but I believe she was a last minute addition.  Also, she wasn’t very competitive and doesn’t really factor into this story at all.

So, after a very long buildup to the actual competition itself, with long introductions of all of the competitors, the competition got under way.  I was ready to cheer on Juliette, as she definitely seemed like an underdog.  Once she started into her Krystals, however, she ravenously consumed them, much like I imagine Mama Cass went after that very last ham sandwich.  Only, what?  Wait a second.  I think Mama Cass probably got the whole ham sandwich in her mouth, but what in the wide world of competitive eating is Juliette doing!?!?  This may sound like an overstatement, but I am not kidding when I say that I have never witnessed a nastier display of gluttony in all my life.  Most of the competitors on the stage were actually eating their Kystals.  Juliette, on the other hand, seemed to be smashing and smearing what looked like Krystal slop all over her face.  Once her mouth was full, she just kept smacking herself in the face with it … only, with no other place to go, it just covered her face, her shirt, and the table in front of her.  She would then scoop up big handfuls of slop and try to cram it into her mouth, to no avail.  But somehow, when the 8-minute competition had ended (AND she was witnessed by everyone in the audience still trying to pack more into her mouth for a solid 30 to 40 seconds after the buzzer sounded), it was ruled that she was in a three-way tie with two of the other eaters and that they would have to have an eat-off (or, officially, a “Krystal Square-Off-Off”).

The people in the audience (myself included) were very dismayed by this news.  The two others included in this three-way tie obviously deserved a chance to compete against one another in this sudden death phase of the contest (I don’t think it would be a surprise to many people if eating more than 50 Krystals in 8 minutes led to sudden death), but Juliette did not deserve to be there.  And to make matters worse, even though the judges announced that the competitors would have to “cleanly” eat the 10 Krystals placed before them in the square-off-off (with the winner being the competitor who could scarf them down the quickest), Juliette stuck to the method she used in the regulation phase of the competition.  She slopped the stuff EVERYWHERE!  The audience was getting rowdy and booing her, but somehow, when it was all over, the judges actually announced her as the winner.  I was mad.  The audience was mad.  The other two competitors were mad.  Cheating really bothers me.  In my opinion, Eric “Badlands” Booker should have won the competition.  For more on this subject, feel free to view this link.

While I’m on the subject of cheaters, while waiting in line for the Tilt-A-Whirl ride, when I had almost reached the front of the line, these two little children jumped in front of me and the person standing with me in line.  Their mother walked up near to them and pushed a third child into the line with them.  I said to her, “There is a line, you know.”  And there was a considerable line at this point.  She just smiled and in very broken English replied, “Yes, yes, I know.  It’s ok.”  What!?  The person with me in line said, “No, it’s not ok.”  But the lady just kept smiling and walked away, leaving her children in line.  I was incensed!  Maybe I shouldn’t have let it get to me like it did, but I REALLY dislike cheating … especially when the cheater doesn’t even care when he/she is caught in the act.  This was not just a cultural misunderstanding.  I don’t have anything against people from other countries in general, but I do have a thing against cheaters.  She knew exactly what she was doing when she pushed her three children into that line in front of us.  Maybe instead of just fuming, I could have told the guy running the ride that they didn’t deserve to get on the ride due to the fact that they had skipped almost every person in it, but I didn’t.  I didn’t want to be the jerk that tattled on three children (probably all younger than 7 years old), but I wish the mother could have experienced some kind of a consequence for her total disregard for fairness and queue etiquette.

So, yeah, going back to the original topic of this blog, cheaters really bother me.

The second, truly bothersome thing (and really this might more of a fear than a bother) of which I was reminded today?

Carnies.

I learned something new about myself today while I was at the Tennessee State Fair.  In my old age, I have developed the unfortunate ability to experience motion sickness.  This was not something I ever experienced as a child.  Back then, I could go on any ride, no matter how fast it spun or in how many different directions it allowed me to travel all at once.  I loved those rides, and I could go on them time after time after time with no adverse effects.

No longer.

Today, I felt very sick to my stomach after certain rides.  And I’m pretty sure watching “Juliette” win the Krystal burger eating competition didn’t help ease my queasiness.  More about Juliette in my next post.

Anyway, I now realize there is a crossable line in regard to how many spinning rides I can take in a relatively short span of time.  I also today thought back to when I was a child and used to go to amusement parks with my parents.  They enjoyed some rides, but they always seemed a bit more interested in the attractions and shows.  Attractions and shows … schmattractions and shows.  Gimme rides, rides, rides!  Higher, faster, longer!  Again, no longer.  As I sat on a bench at the fair, regretting the fact that I’d just gone on the Spider ride after having conquered the Tilt-A-Whirl and a few others, I found myself longing for some simple attractions and shows.  Like the Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark stunt show at MGM studios (that really was a great show … may it rest in peace).  Or the Back to the Future 3-D show (again, R.I.P.).  Or Captain E.O. (ok, so all of the attractions I am currently remembering are no longer available).  This, too, reminds me of my age and how some of the things I loved as a child are no longer things that can bring me love and fulfillment as an adult.

I’m going to be 31 in November, so I’ll probably have a few more things to add to that list soon, but at least I still have my memories.  And the memories can help me relive the fun times … sans queasiness.

Of course, when next year rolls around, and the carnies roll back into Nashville for another state fair, I’m sure I’ll end up hopping right back on some of those very same rides again anyway, hoping that maybe things will be different and my stomach will be better girded against the nausea that struck me this year.

Based on this behavior, I believe Albert Einstein would consider me, to some degree, insane.

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