Sometimes being an astute observer has its drawbacks

imageAs I’ve mentioned, during our town’s annual spring festival, the carnival sets up across the street from our home.


If it were any closer, I could high-five everyone on the tilt-a-whirl without leaving the couch. So each night after work, I walk two blocks home and pass through the carnival, enjoying the fact that the sound of screaming teenagers — for once — isn’t coming from any of mine. I take time to watch the interactions of people, the motion of the rides, the flashing lights, and take in the carnival-specific aroma of frying corn dogs and sweet cotton candy mixed with freshly spewed vomit from the squirrel cages.

Being a writer, this is a target-rich environment of atmosphere, character and dialogue that I store in my memory to either draw from later or, as in the case of what I’m about to share with you, eventually discuss with my psychiatrist or lawyer.

For example… 




As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’ve assembled some examples into a short feature for today called “Things you don’t want to overhear while at the carnival.”

Like this…




Speaking of which…



I’ve often wondered where the carnies sleep after the lights go off and the rides come to a stop. Now, I kind of wish I didn’t ask…



And though I never really thought about it until now, I suppose the dating scene is pretty limited…



Without question, this last quote is something the tobacco industry would love to use in it’s next ad campaign…



Needless to say, I won’t be riding anything that doesn’t have wheels or eating anything that could be used as a mattress or is considered an unhealthy alternative to smoking cigarettes. In fact, I may just stay home and high-five people from the safety of my own couch.

Assuming I don’t end up with one of the squirrel cages in my living room…






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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

26 thoughts on “Sometimes being an astute observer has its drawbacks”

  1. Carnies are my favorite for fun times.

    True story – Once a carnie brought a 12 pack of Busch Beer to a carnie party and was the only one with beer. Believing that the other carnies were going to drink all his beer, he decided to leave, but the others bludgeoned him to death (I believe with a hammer) and drank his beer in front of his corpse anyway. See? Fun times.

    1. Haha! My wife and I usually just sit on the porch and drink wine while watching people look for parking spaces. Sometimes we bet and play it like bingo… “Red car, space 9! BINGO!”

    1. Except for one, the rest were from a service we use for ad building. Although I’d hate to see what products one of these photos would be used for in marketing…

  2. There is a county fair that comes to town every year where I grew up in KY. I went every year when I was a kid and rode the dumbest rides… OMG! I would never let my daughter on those in a million years! Great post! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Courtney! Now that our kids are all teenagers, there’s not stopping them. On the bright side, we don’t have to chaperone anymore. Plus, living across the street, they always check in when they use the bathroom 😉

  3. Good that you are astute. The world needs more stutes.
    The neighborly thing would be to invite the carnies in for a sleepover. You’d have enough material for a year of columns.

  4. Those travelling carnival rides scare the hell out of me. Time after time there have been deaths or injuries in those here and yet the inspection and certification is still lax. When you think about it – all those nuts and bolts and connections and joints undergo hundreds of assemblies and disassemblies and are tended by less than well-trained technicians. It’s a bloody wonder more aren’t killed.

    And yet the teens flock to these carnivals as of they are starving for companionship and have come to worship at the great gods of the carnival rides. Yikes!

    I’m nervous but can tolerate fixed rides, like Disney, but the break down type drive me crazy.

    1. Went there, read it and was very moved, Paul. You know the subject of abuse holds a personal place in my heart. Thank you for sharing this, my friend.

  5. There was a time in my life when I worked for a company that had several high-end food trailers that they sent around with several traveling carnivals. I worked the Canadian National Exhibition, the London Fair, etc.

    Trust me, Ned, carnies are a breed apart.

    To say the least…

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