the 1981 Tennessee State Fair
PT - 2
When I went
back, I couldn't sleep at all, so I decided to go across to
the Pickled Punk Show to see if it really was a rip-off.
When I got close to it, I heard they had turned on the tape
recording which went:
The world's strangest babies are here. You've read about,
heard talk, and wondered about them. Now come in and see
them. You've read about the Siamese twins, the little ones
joined together. You've read about the two-faced baby, the
two-headed baby, the gorilla child. You've read about the
little baby born to a twelve-year-old mother. In fact,
you've read about all these strange babies in your leading
newspaper. Recently, you've been reading about the drugs
responsible for these strange babies. Look at the pictures.
Read all the signs. Get your tickets and come in. Stay as
long as you like. Come out when you're ready, but when you
do you'll agree it's a show the entire family should see.
Mothers, bring your daughters. Fathers, bring your sons. You
owe it to yourself to see the world's strangest babies. This
is a show for the broad-minded, deep-thinking intelligent
class of people. It's the most highly recommended exhibit on
this entire ground.
So I went in. It was a big semitrailer truck with faded
green carpets and fluorescent lights. Some of the lights
were pretty dim. And there were these photographs of these
freakish babies framed between plastic wood panels behind
Plexiglas that was covered with what looked like a
combination of sperm, snot, and spit that hadn't been wiped
off in a long time. The photograph that I remember most
vividly was labeled "the gorilla baby." Underneath it was a
little message that said both parents had syphilis. "This is
truly a monster. Note the developed arms and penis coming
out of the navel." Some of the sentences ran right off the
frame so you had to guess at some of the words, and each
little message ended with the advice, "It's important that
you take care of yourself and your unborn baby."
Outside, at ten o'clock in the morning, the carnival had
started up full blast. All the rides and generators started
up at once. Every ride the Superloops, the Sea Dragon, which
was a quarter-million-dollar giant Viking boat had its own
music blaring. "Disco Duck" was the most popular tune. There
were the Space Shuttle, the Mind Blower, and the Giant
Himalaya, which was the most disgusting of all. It spun very
fast and tilted up, while strobe lights flashed and sirens
went off and truck horns blew, as the operator
shouted, "Do you want to get high? Do you want to get
high? How high? Higher, higher?" I felt like a rat in
an electric maze. I knew I had to get out of there, so I
went over to where our truck was parked, right next to the
Tri-Star, which was playing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction"
full blast. I woke Randy up. "Randy, we've got to move. I
don't think I can actually stay here at the fairgrounds."
And he said, "Look, you'll get numb. All carny people just
get numb. You've got to get used to it." It was like living
on Forty-Second Street. I wasn't sure that I wanted to get
numb. At last I talked him into moving the truck up next to
the sideshow freak tent. There the noise subsided to a
general, dull roar, but I still couldn't sleep so I went out
for a walk.
To be Continued