The other day the fam headed out on the road on Operation Add Kays.
Yes, HM and Co a couple of years back decided to take on a salary sacrifice car-lease plan. Only problem with the plan was our belief we'd do enough kays each year to circumnavigate the globe.
In order we don't cop a Fringe Benefit Tax bill this means occasional weekends spent 50s style of family trips of going for a nice drive by way of entertainment.
Holy crap the 50s must have been a sad time where you actually looked forward to spending hours in the back of an environmentally primitive vehicle wedged in the seat next to your similarly Sunday best clad brethren as you took in queasy inducing surrounds as you juttered in rhythmic sympathy with the corrugation of the dirt road you were trapped on.
We try and have a destination in mind for these trips - like a town with a nice park to go to for the little man. On this occasion we went to the Young Cherry Festival - as even though the cherry harvest took a hit from recent rain the city fathers/mothers decided to hold festivities anyway.
After the long drive we parked at the local McDonalds - which was packed to the gills, many of whom students taking advantage of the WiFi - then with theNoo in a stroller headed up to where the action was.
There was not that much action.
However near the council chambers was set up rides, various jumping inflatable kids stuff and an honest-to-god sideshow alley. Clowns with the rotating heads, the darts balloons game, the scooping ducks up with a net and counting numbers to see what plastic tat you got as a prize with said prize costing much less than the price to play was.
Carnies! (shakes fist).
The sideshow alley and I have a long history ... of my failing to beat their system. That game with the knocking down the bottles with the ball, where the bottles have cash screwed into their necks, that the carnie seemingly knocks down with ease when demonstrating ...? I must have tried that game a dozen times ... and the only thing I ever got out of it was an Australian Flag pin - which broke - and a comedic false beard. Though the latter was actually used muchly and with great hilarity.
But ... what the fuck ... it was a day for theNoo and he got to have a go at sideshow alley - trying the scoop up the ducks and the rotating clown heads / shove a ball down their throat game.
I did laugh to see that the carnies! had updated their never-wons. You know the never-wons. They're the prizes they have on display that will never, ever be won by a punter because the game is set up so that will never happen. In this case they actually had flat-screen TVs as a possible prize - though I saw with some delight that the box was suitably handling scarred and ratty in spots indicating its longevity as a seductive siren to tease but never actually commit*.
I decided to have a go myself. My choice of poison? The dart toss.
The proprietor was an older guy who was deeply, deeply tanned. The sort of tan that can only be acquired from a life of exposure to sun. His great belly had an ant-road of hair trailing up over the convex of his stomach - which was gloriously hanging over the waistband of his shorts and which was framed above by his ridden up occasionally buttoned shirt.
It was five bucks for three darts ... then he made an offer '... but for you mate, five darts for ten'.
You know what? ... I fell for that.
I held my dart sideways, a trick taught by my ninja-skills polymath-esq friend M, then flicked it out. POP! First balloon gone.
I was giddy! A balloon right out the gate on dart one.
Yeah ... I missed with all the others. I did actually pop a second balloon but only after the dart bounced off the back wall and then dropped point down to take out the balloon on the way to the ground. Carnie! was surprisingly quick to blurt out that rebounds didn't count, rapidly shouting out the words by rote ("chequeswillnotbehonoured").
I forget what piece of plastic tat I got for my uno pop effort to add to theNoo's collection of side-show alley tat scored from his time of My Child Vs the Carnival Folk. But all up he won a mobile phone shaped water press game, a plastic truck, and a kewl mini-ping pong ball shooting plastic gun thing.
Much later, as theNoo was snuggling into bed, mummy did her trick of dot pointing the day's key events for him.
'Do you remember when you put your balls in the clown's mouth?'
Yep, she said it. Gold.
*Back in the 80s I remember one prize was a Millennium Falcon playset. If that's still in a carnie's lock up, which maybe the case given it was a never-won, that would be worth an absolute fuckload. Carnies start your engines.