Today is always the worst day of the year; and the contest isn’t even close. Sure, there’s the traditional gutter-cleaning and income tax day. Then there’s the annual post-birthday shower cry-stravaganza that’s awful. Oh, and who could forget the literal laundry list of obvious reasons for disliking Canadian Thanksgiving. However, Art Fair day is all traffic jams, artisan jams, and folk music jams — the three non-curdled-milk items that disgust me the most in this world — rolled up and spit out into smug storm of overpriced future garage sale merchandise down my street.
Typically, my coping mechanism for anything is just a combination of drawn blinds, a drink called Whiskey Sour Patch Kids, and a Goo Goo Dolls’ single on repeat. Unfortunately, today is brewing into a perfect storm, since I’ve now realized I’m fresh out of tart candy and alcohol. If I die from being unable to cope with this grief today I’ll exit this world the way I entered: screaming and naked, because today I’m also out of clean underwear.
I look out and see the street clogged with an opinionated parade of bumper-sticker-clad cars. Every view from supporting local farmers, to condemning Native-American sport whaling, to Toy Story 3 being an okay film is expressed on a tailgate somewhere on my street. The creeping realization begins to set in. I’ll have to brave the festival. I’ll strafe through it, ignoring everything and everyone like when I accidentally stumbled into that Jehovah’s Witness convention. Extracting candy and alcohol from a convenience store is simple enough mission, but avoiding all pompous pretentiaites buzzing around the fair will be tough. With no remaining undergarments, I burrow through a clothes pile to pull out an old, ill-fitting neon bathing suit with “Beached Bum” cleverly scrawled across my dump zone. There’s no time to waste; my apartment’s panic room, as in the hall closet I drink in when stress becomes overwhelming, is calling my name.
With each vehicle I pass on the way downtown the density of sun hats, soul patches, and ponytailed men substantially increases. My fingers grasp my wallet tightly; this bathing suit was clearly not tailored for the modern man who has more than got his money’s worth from his commemorative, oversized X-Men wallet from Burger King. Scampering as fast as I can, I’m zipping in and out of people, careful not to hear too much of their conversation about French films they’ve rented or the benefits of composting dead pets. The return will be sweet, like what a grade-school teacher must feel like after a long day when they’re looking forward to drinking and sobbing in a closet.
At the outskirts of the fair, I cringe at a sign indicating artists’ parking that’s points to a bike rack. Immediately upon reaching the main stretch a gypsy touches my arm and asks if I want my fortune told. I cower and run; she might as well have asked if wanted Lou Gehrig’s disease. A man with a flute skips down the asphalt and stops to gyrate in front of me. I gasp like a grandmother at a gay wedding before shifting my course to avoid his swiveling, jingle-bell-adorned pelvis.
Couples drag sobbing children; children who were likely tricked into attending through a misrepresentation of the word “fair.” The conversations I overhear bore into my brain. Every single exchange of thoughts can be boiled down to individuals passively trying to assert they’re more cultured or more intelligent than someone else. Frankly, they’re all idiots; the truly intelligent would have spent today far away from here, likely in a bathtub eating fondue in between naps.
Perfect, the convenience store looks empty. I’ll be able to just run and pop out without touching anything.
My heart stops and my jaw drops as I reach the door. A small note informs me the owner has gone to the art fair and will return tomorrow.
“Why, why have you forsaken me, Philippe!?” I curse towards the sky. I knew I should never have supported a business that supported local art projects. Why, Philippe, why do you support this awfulness so much? And why did you donate all that money for the town to erect that statue of the mayor grappling with a bear or sponsor that teamwork mural where all the soccer playing kids’ faces look like they’re melting as if they were all victims of booze-infused pregnancies?
The restaurants are overrun with art-fair-patrons types and I don’t know if a liquor and candy tent exists. A hot dog seems like a good idea to calm my nerves. My body has always responded well to packing in meat to regulate itself, but everything seems overpriced. I just want a quick bite, but immediately I’m badgered about if I want to donate to offset my carbon use or if I want to know about the cow’s likes and dislikes. It ends up being more than I would ever pay for a hot dog, because apparently pampering a cow and giving it a name that isn’t a barcode costs me more money in the long run. Call me old-fashioned, but I liked it when farmers passed the savings of animal cruelty onto the consumer.
I take one bite and I don’t taste the difference in this apparently cruelty-free, artisan-crafted dog. All I can taste is a poor economic decision on my part and the thought of wasting six dollars that would have bought me a lot of Sour Patch Kids.
My eyes swell up as I sit on the curb and dump the remaining bits of hot dog into the sewer. Fortunately, it’s hot; no one will be able to tell I’m crying since I’m perspiring so much. There’s no use turning this into a trail of tears, I’ll just sweat and weep here on the street.