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I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached that part of the summer where I’m completely feast-ed, street-fair-ed, and carnival-ed out. I don’t think I can toss another

dented ping-pong ball into another table-full of fish bowls, or pop another balloon with a dart, or whack another mole. I can’t bury another fish at sea, fix another broken sword, or find a place for yet another dollar store stuffed animal that cost me $50 to win. Nor can I stomach the smell of cotton candy, candy apples, zeppoles, popcorn, or funnel cakes. In other words, I’m done. And so is my husband, but for entirely different reasons. You see, SpongeBob kicked Jim’s ***. Well, not really SpongeBob, but SpongeBob was the reason that a tattooed Carny went after my husband.


Like many young boys, my son Jack absorbs episodes of SpongeBob as if his brain was, well, a square porous sponge. Jack repeats anything SpongeBob says that he finds remotely funny, even if he doesn’t quite understand the adult implications of the meaning. There’s a particular episode that my son likes where SpongeBob shouts out, "Let's take it down Carny-style" (at least that's how he repeats it) referring to carnival workers. The phrase sounds awfully funny coming out of the mouth of a seven year old--until that seven-year old uses the phrase in front of a carnival worker, as he did one night at a carnival while we were waiting to get onto the bumper car ride.

Seven-year old boys fall into that peculiar category of being too small to ride the big carnival rides and too big (and embarrassed) to ride the small kiddie rides. When Jack saw the Bumper Cars, he begged his father to go on with him. I was game for a challenge, so my daughter and I decided to go on the ride as well. We got on the end of a very long line, our tail of pink tickets trailing the ground behind us.


I noticed that the nearer we came to the front of the line the more Jim began to show signs of panic, but I remained silent. When we finally reached the front of the line he announced, "I don't think I can fit in the bumper cars." In his defense, he's 6'4 and very big, but he couldn't have said something when we were number 40 in line and not when we were next to board? My son said, "No problem, I'll ride by myself," but the ride operator (Carny) informed him that he was too short to ride alone. My son, being very height-sensitive given the Amazonian size of his father, blurted out, "Let's take this down Carny-style."

Now, the tattoos on the ride operator's arms gave no indication that he was a fan of SpongeBob and recognized that this seven-year old was just repeating a line from a cartoon. I nearly fainted from fear waiting for the weight of the reaction I could feel he was contemplating. My husband, unable to hear anything over the blasting heavy metal music blaring from the five-foot speakers just stood there and smiled, giving the impression that he was pleased with what my son had just said. The ride operator (Carny) shouted at my husband, "You think that's funny?" What sucks more than my husband’s hearing is his ability to read lips, so he nodded like someone on a weekend pass from an institution, if you know what I mean. I quickly tried to salvage the situation by screaming thinly-veiled obscenities (like a true mother of a "Carny") at Jack, while profusely apologizing. I then told the "Carny" that my husband was deaf.

Unhappily accepting that information, he let us on the ride. Like Annie Sullivan, I pushed Jim through the gate and into a car with Jack, and then got into a car with my daughter. Jim's knees were literally resting on his chin and the safety bar looked like it was perforating his stomach every time I rammed my car into Jim's. Every bump caused his knees to ram into his face. I could almost feel his pain. This did not go unnoticed by my "Carny" friend, and that's why he let the ride go on for almost 20 minutes. Let's just say, he took Jim down Carny style.