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But the kids always have a hand out, hoping quarters and dollars just might fall into it. I’ve gotten smarter about these situations and now I simply leave my purse at home and tuck a twenty in my pocket. If we spend it, it’s generally on kettle corn or cinnamon almonds that can treat the whole family.
So a few years back we took the kids to CountryFest. I’m pretty sure it was the summer I was pregnant with Curly, so my sweetie found me a spot on the grass to watch the entertainment on the stage and then he offered to walk the booths with the kids. As usual, they begged for anything and everything. The Dog Walker in particular kept pointing at the carnival rides and pestering him for money. Now any of you who have attended one of these events knows that the carnival rides are ridiculously expensive…these were $3.00 per ride! That meant even one ride times six kids (who were old enough to really enjoy the rides) was nearly my whole twenty.
After about half an hour, my sweetie joined me on the blanket with a warm bag of kettle corn. The kids all plopped down around us, digging into the popcorn with greedy hands.
"It’s OK," he explained confidently, "I already talked to everybody else. They all wanted popcorn."
I looked around at their contented faces, happily munching and enjoying the entertainment on the stage. After a moment I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed some popcorn for myself, and settled back to watch the show. About 20 minutes later I saw the Dog Walker staggering across the lawn. He stopped first at one garbage can, then about 20 feet later at another. My sweetie choked on his Diet Pepsi. "I guess it worked," he chuckled. I was totally mystified.
The Dog Walker had finally reached us and flopped down on the blanket next to me. I glanced at his pale face, "Are you OK?" I reached a hand to touch his forehead. He was sweating and cold and clammy at the same time. "You were right, Dad," he managed. "Those rides just make you sick!" My sweetie hid a smile. "How many times did you ride it?" he asked innocently. The Dog Walker coughed into his hand. "Just twice…" I looked at him incredulously. "Why did you ride it twice if it made you sick?" "Well, Dad gave me enough money for two tickets." I gave my sweetie a look. I couldn’t believe he was messing with the Autistic kid. "Why don’t you go over to the restroom and wash up a little," I suggested. "Maybe it will make you feel better."
As he stumbled off in the direction of the restrooms, I confronted his tormenter. "You are so mean!" I accused. He chuckled, "Best six bucks I ever spent." I was still annoyed. "What do you mean?" He lounged back in the grass and glanced toward the restroom. "He’ll never ask to ride a carnival ride again." And you know what? He was right. Just for proof, I asked the Dog Walker to help me with a couple of details on this story and the first thing he said was, "I hate carnival rides!"