Even though I've spent the last 15+ years in suburbia surrounded by cul de sacs filled with houses painted every hue of taupe imaginable, I spent my childhood and high school years in Forest Lake, MN, which is a town about a half-hour north of either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Some people refer to Forest Lake as "that town on the way to Duluth," and I guess they're right, if "on the way" means "after passing Forest Lake and then driving another 140 miles, you end up in Duluth."
I moved to Minneapolis within a month after graduating from high school and have never moved back, which means that after I left, the minority population of the entire town could be counted on one hand. This could be why, except for the occasional dinner at my parents' red house on the circle, I haven't ever been motivated to spend much time there. So why I suddenly thought that spending this year's 4th of July wandering around Forest Lake seemed like a great idea is just slightly more than completely bewildering. Maybe I thought that since I haven't lived there for such a long time, things had progressed. And who knows, it might be fun for my kids to spend some time seeing where I grew up, listening to me be a dorky, cliche parent saying things like "See that baseball dugout over there? I used to sit in there and smoke" or "There's the high school where I skipped a lot of classes, especially political science."
After wandering around the "midway" for three minutes, I quickly realized that not only was I still the only Asian in the town, but now my whole family was involved in the list of "only's":
- We were the only people not smoking, although I could sense Zoe giving it strong consideration.
- I was the only girl over 18 without a tramp stamp. And who knows, maybe Zoe was the only girl under 18 without one.
- Doug was the only guy not wearing suspenders, tube socks, a sleeveless t-shirt with an eagle on the front, a mullet, a giant chain on his wallet, or any combination of the above.
- We were the only family not holding a tray of cheese curds.
- Doug and I were the only parents that weren't swearing at their kids.
I will admit that it was slightly fun to watch my boys jump back a little when they were on the receiving end of a carni's toothless smile, but most of the fun came from the people watching. I'm still shocked that Doug and I were able to keep track of our kids, considering how often one of our heads would whip around while we said "Holy shit, did you see that dude? What the hell!" over and over again. It got to the point where I realized that there was no way Doug was going to see everything and everybody, considering the excessive amount of time he was spending doubled over with laughter, so I did what any thoughtful, considerate wife would do: I started taking pictures so that he could look at them later.
You have to wonder what the rest of this guy's closet looks like. Does he have a large selection of jorts, suspenders in other colors, short-sleeve dress shirts in an assortment of patterns and crocs for every day of the week?
My 20-year class reunion is coming up and when I asked Doug, jokingly, if he wanted to go with me (because I already knew the answer was "hell no") his much more creative answer was "See that? I would rather wear that guy's outfit to the office for a week than go to your class reunion." This was a relief to hear, since I had just sent in my RSVP with payment for only one person.
Like I said, we were the only people not smoking. In addition, I kind of felt like a minority because I wasn't displaying any whale tail or muffin top.
"DAMMIT Frank! I told you to bring some chips to the picnic! And what about the dip? Who was supposed to bring the goddamn dip? We only have nine bags and six jars! We're going to run out! Oh, and let me just dig through this bucket of chicken and touch each and every piece before I put one on my plate, and then sit right by the chips because there isn't any room left after piling on 7 scoops of coleslaw."
This is a perfect example as to why I prefer places that enforce the "shirt and shoes required" policy. Where are the shattered glass shards when I need some!?
I feel like such a fool. All this time I thought that CMA stood for "Country Music Association" or "Cows Moo Absentmindedly." Who knew it stood for "Christian Motorcyclists Association." Hell, who even knew that there was a Christian Motorcyclists Association. Do they keep a Bible in their saddlebag? Do they pray before they rev the engines? Will she be forgiven for wearing that top?
You may think that, except for the boots, this person really doesn't look that bad. Well, just be glad I didn't take a picture of the front view. Feel free to use your imagination...
This is the bouncer. Doug was observant enough to point out that apparently no one got the memo saying that a bouncer should be strong, fast and be able to present himself as dominant, not just look big. And immobile. And passive.
Believe it or not, this girl wasn't on her lunch break from the Hulk Hogan/KISS/court jester side show. I'm thinking that maybe she was just trying to attract attention to herself so that people would then look at the person next to her and realize that Karin Housley is running for Senate in District 57. Karin isn't a typical politician and wants to bring "real life experience" to the Senate. In fact, she's determined to get this state "back on track" and is "passionate about budgets," believes we need to "create more jobs" and is determined to not let people look like morons by wearing red and black striped tights.
I was trying to take a picture of the lady in the sweet jeans playing Skeeball because she was really good and about to break the high score, but then this cowgirl do-si-doed right in front of my camera.
I'm going to put this picture on our refrigerator so that every time I tell one of my boys to go change his clothes and they say why, I can point at this kid and say because you don't want some freaky lady laughing at you, taking your picture and then posting it on her blog.