Terry Marotta: Life is like a fair

Terry Marotta

Maybe that funny bumper sticker is right and the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around - and next thing you know 40 years have passed, your parallel parking skills are shot and you’re getting so deaf you’re turning into the Mr. Magoo of hearing.

I know I’m getting deaf, but here’s a strange corollary: My vision is improving. At least that’s how it seemed from the top of the Ferris wheel at the big town fair last week: I felt I could see everything, not just the fat green lollipops of the newly leafed-out trees, but my whole life spread before me.

I had not been to this fair in almost 20 years, since it falls on the same weekend I go back to my alma mater. Thus, many of the people I saw seemed to me like figures from my past.

The last time I saw this one young mother, now in her early 30s, she was dressed for her middle school graduation. The last time I saw this town worker with his receding hairline and his beer belly, he was a muscular young member of the high school football squad.

Here at the fair, I saw grownups I had not seen since 1980 when I myself was a young mother new to this town, and seeing them caused me to wonder when the faces of people this age become the faces I look for in any crowd, etched with the lines laid down by laughter and worry and life’s many lessons in humility.

When I first entered the fairgrounds I came upon my own daughter, standing in the long line for this Ferris wheel patiently, if wearily, holding her 30-pound, near-tears baby with his soft blonde curls.

I reached out my arms. “Dad is right behind me,” I said, taking the child.

“Help is on the way,” I added, and was surprised to feel tears springing to my eyes at the comfort in that phrase. It reminded me of a what a paramedic friend told me he always says on first coming upon the accident victim trapped in the car, or thrown from the car, or caught in the electrical wires: “The worst is over,” he tells them and isn’t that great and merciful fib just what a person would need to hear in those circumstances?

I felt somehow so emotional at this fair. Maybe everyone did.

At 6 p.m., our baby’s pre-kindergarten brother was alternately doing the shimmy with his little friend and hitting him on the head with an inflatable bat. At 6:30, he was punching himself in the face, and at 7, he was sobbing.

But by 8, he was calm again, devouring a Frisbee-sized piece of fried dough and awaiting his own turn on the Ferris wheel, at the top of which he, too, looked around in amazement:

At the darkness descending on the landscape like a great soft cape.

At the fairground lights, burning the brighter by contrast.

At the babies departing and the teens taking over, the girls with their wonderful long legs and flying manes of hair.

At the adults looking as dazed and grateful as I must have looked.

Ah, the fair of life! You eat the sweet food, you go on the rides. You get choked up some and you sure enough smack yourself in the face a little. You turn around and the years have passed and it’s closing time too soon – ah, much too soon.

Write Terry at tmarotta@comcast.net or care of Ravenscroft Press, P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890. To read more by Terry and leave comments for all to see, go to her blog, Exit Only, at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com .