So far things are going fair at today’s church fair. Saturday’s October Fall Fest Fair I mean.
By eleven fifty I paint two butterflies, two ladybugs, a few ghosts while I nurse my coffee, a big invisible sign over my head reads: ‘Enter At Your Own Risk.’
A toddler waddles over, asks for only knives and skeleton tattoos. I comply. Hope kids are not too particular with my attempts with stub crayon details. Hate painting their superfine skin. Ask them not to wiggle so much. From one Botticelli I take four tickets for a greased cherry and purple flower.
Another comes in, switches me up. Just the hair, she says. Hot pink.
Okay, okay, I can do this, I tell myself. Suit up, put a paper towel over her eyes. A glow cloud sprays in her direction. Hangs over the both of us. Weather conditions prevail. It goes everywhere. Splatters mostly on the chair where she sits, drips across her thin trash bag apron.
How much are we both breathing of this quality air?
Still I cannot get her hair to turn vivid pink. More a fade of sheer. I keep spraying until I get a splotch over her forehead. A widower’s ‘dot,’ fuchsia. Hand the kid the mirror. She thanks me sweetly, hands me her four tickets.
Keep the tickets, I say, feeling a twinge, I’m just tuning up.
Ten minutes later, shift over, booth manager arrives from her son’s soccer game to take charge. Thanks me profusely for doing nothing. Your welcome, I say. Hand her my clean apron. Watch the booth from afar for the rest of the day. See the boss go to work. Spread her flat bristle tip tools of the church carnival trade across the table. Plastic gloves, baby wipes, alcohol, make-up assorteds, face paint, pirate press on tattoos – large, small – roses, ribbons, candy designs, photocopy examples for make-up counter consults.
Then, she takes out her line of hair products.
Super gooey epoxy stuff from the black depths in her purse. Comic color neon hairsprays, hair waxes, that will take weeks to wash from baby hair. Ones teachers will write notes home over all week.
‘Maestra Capelli.’ Spaghetti hair meets its match. A hair contortionist.
Hair that should not stand up, goes ridge pole in her hands.
In an hour flat, the church parking lot fills with rainbow punks, flare freaks, Goths. Lines wrap the Gathering Tree from where I sit to watch the scene where I take notes with my colleagues, other off-duty types in the ‘volunteer breakroom,’ a place where we parents do double duty, where everyone’s a winner, sales always brisk. We sit back and peel yet more tickets for our kids, greenback answers to young and old.
Do our prayers. Where all is forgiven.
‘Done,’ or not, we are unjudged in the pop-up chapel for the fallen away. The Beer Tent. (c) MK Smyth 2012