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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Corn Dog

Andrea and I are vacationing in North Carolina. We’ve booked a cozy cottage aside a private lake.

The town we’re staying in, Saluda, has large, white, random crosses road side with messages on them. To be honest, I’m always a little leery of this type of display of Christian love because, in my experience, I find it often involves praying away the gay or loving your neighbor as yourself but only if the neighbor looks like you. So far, this hasn’t been our experience of the area so, again, I should recalibrate some of my views of the south. I was telling Andrea that I would make these signs a little more attention grabbing.

“Oh! Like the one with the lamb - would you have a picture of a lamb with x’s over its eyes?” Andrea asked.

“Nah - that sounds too tame.” I reply.

“Yeah - like a lamb cake. Remember your mom had a lamb shaped cake pan and I thought it was a penis?” Andrea asked.

“Why would my mom have a penis shaped cake pan?” I asked.

“How should I know? Maybe she made them for bachelorette parties?”

My mom had made lamb cakes for Easter. But I see how she could have taken the decorating in another direction altogether.

I’d recently lamented we hadn’t had a vacation in a long while - which isn’t entirely untrue but recent trips have had a bit of a jam packed, frenzied quality to them as did the time period leading up to our eventual move.

It’s surprising how you can carve out time each day to quiet your mind, only to realize chaos is still clanging about in there. I feel as though the carnival ride has stopped and my tilt-a-whirl compartment is still spinning a little but slowly, the landscape is coming into view once more. When I was young(er? Ish?), I would attend the Sandwich Fair. Sandwich was a sleepy, Midwestern town. Our baby shit brown colored station wagon would roll past many a cornfield to get there and my dad would quip, “Did you hear they’re putting a down between Plano and Sandwich?”

By this time, I was wise to the old man and would warily reply, “Oh yeah?”

“Yep - gonna call it Baloney. Plano, Baloney, Sandwich!” He’d wryly deliver. Har de har.

I’d go to the fair with whomever liked to ride the same rides I did. I was really into the one with multiple, black arms, like a spider. It had golden bulbs on each arm, but I’d seldom catch site of them lit as we went to the fair in the day. Each arm had a compartment on each end, where two riders could sit. The arms would rise and fall, the compartment would spin, and all the arms spun in a circle.

I once rode this ride with a friend after we enjoyed a lunch of fair fare corn dogs. This is was, in hindsight, a poor decision. We got into our little compartment and before long, my friend’s face had a sickly hue to it.

Uh oh.

She pulled herself to her side of the small compartment and began throwing up over the side. My eyes widened and I’d briefly catch sight of her mom’s face, set in a sympathetic grimace, as we would whip past.

“Stop the ride!” I shrieked by way of support to my still vomiting friend.

The ride did not stop. In fact, it seemed longer than usual.

The ride eventually slowed and came to a stop with our compartment at the top, which meant we had to wait for the riders in other compartments to disembark. Compartment by painstaking compartment emptied, and we’d lower a few feet at a time before eventually descending to the carnie’s grease stained hands freeing us from our compartment. He didn’t seem to register that my ride mate had gotten sick - or maybe he was un-phased. All in a days work.

So - I feel a lot like my friend probably did. Grateful things have stopped spinning and getting my bearings.

Andrea and I have puttered about, masked, exploring the local landscape with the radio on in the car. Every time Elton John comes on, and I feel he comes on often, I think of our friend Anne. First it was Tiny Dancer. I felt sad, as if we’d broken up instead of us having moved away from her. Then it was Rocket Man. COVID seems to be shitting on my hopes of us getting together at our new place. Yes - this is a luxury problem, unlike so many of the other problems COVID has brought to people (well, at least people who are choosing to believe COVID is real....).

So here we are, COVID vacation, and I’m housekeeping my mind and nursing a feeling that’s similar to how one feels after a breakup whenever “their” former song comes on the radio. I feel like I’m at the eye doctor - is this clearer? Or what about this? Yes....

We’ve been listening to the new Taylor Swift album and it’s shockingly good. I think she did some housekeeping of her mind as well.

I've been having a hard time adjusting....


I just wanted you to know that this is me tryingI just wanted you to know that this is me trying

[Verse 2]

They told me all of my cages were mental

So I got wasted like all my potential

And my words shoot to kill when I'm mad

I have a lot of regrets about that.

-Taylor Swift, This is Me Trying

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