After a week so unhideably horrible for me that a stranger came up and gave me a pill and I took it while she recommended full-time medication, I'm desperately in need of a spot of relief. I find it at the all-night midway. At 1 am people are streaming out of the Ex, but loaded buses are headed toward it. Carnival workers hard hit by the four-day delay in opening are extending their long shift to accommodate the crowds attracted by the afterhours toonie admission and a 10-buck pass for all the rides. Walking down the road from the TTC stop in silence and darkness surrounded by subdued strangers, I realize what it reminds me of. It's like the night of the blackout. We're all out in public in the middle of the night.
For such a reputedly "complicated" person, I am easily amused. A sleepy weight-and-age guesser is complaining into his head mike and asking, "Anybody know how late the streetcar runs?" From inside the time warp bingo parlour, where it appears they're playing for the same prizes no one wanted in 1978, a blond woman turns in my direction, waves her hand and beckons. After the third time I look over my shoulder. There's no one there. She's hailing me? What? She needs some bad luck?
Over on the carousel, where the Wurlitzer sound emanates from a CD, I see a child I recognize as a carny kid. Slight and serious and alone - boy or girl I can't really tell. What it must feel like to be always passing through, hungry eyes tormented by town children with their expensive, or at least new, clothes and gear.
Every party needs a pooper. This one has phalanxes and squadrons of them. I count 16 armed men hauling off an unresisting youth. At least six more descend upon another boy who maybe looked like he was smoking a joint. Hey, isn't pot legal yet? There's a difference between a police presence and a climate of fear. Didn't we just prove we could behave in a crisis?
Time and I stand still to witness the takeoff of the gloriously surreal Gravitron spaceship with another load of passengers sworn to observe a long list of rules including "Do not try to play catch while the ride is turning."
Disney World, Canada's Wonderland, they'd superdepress me. It's the wear and tear and the loving care that goes into keeping these old amusements operating that lift me up. Slickness is not good for the soul.
The little man making sugary drinks inside the giant lemon says they'll be headed to the States next. A blessing on all the hardworking carnies as they go on down the road cheering up hard cases like me.