Monday, September 05, 2005

Is My Neck Red?

It’s been a long time since I have attended an “event” in small town America. Recuperating at my parents’ house has reintroduced me to an Americana that I have completely forgotten about. Things like: craft festivals, county fairs and expos, evening outdoor concerts, church bake sales.

This past weekend, I attended something called the “Street Rod Roundup”. It attracted hundreds of people. Anyone with an automobile that dated back at least 40 years or more, lined their cars up on one end of town at the McDonald’s, then slowly cruised two miles up Main Street, then looped around the Tastee Freeze and drove back down again. Main Street was closed down except for this endless parade of overhauled and reconditioned cars and trucks. People lined the streets, some sat in lawn chairs that they brought, and just watched the vehicles go by.

Most of the businesses along Main Street offered carnival-like food, such as hotdogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and lots and lots of beer. This “event” happens every Labor Day weekend in my parents’ town. You can’t get a hotel room within 20 miles of here.

At first, I think I felt embarrassed. An “event” like this is something I had thought myself to outgrow, living in DC for all these years. I looked around and saw all these innocent people – who were experiencing this night like it was a highlight of the year. And I thought to myself, “Is life this simple? Have I made my life so convoluted that I can’t enjoy something like this without ripping it apart? Is my ego this fragile?”

Once I got over myself, and put my ego in check, I actually enjoyed myself. I walked with my parents (who seem to know everyone in town), my sister, one of my brothers and this two daughters. Everyone we passed seem to know that I had surgery and everyone cared enough to ask me how I was. I ate all the carnival food (this was still in my “you can eat anything you want for the next two weeks only” time period) and checked out the rides. My nephew, Seth, actually had his Trans Am entered in the cruise-by. The whole thing was just fun and charming.

I might actually come home again for it next year.