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I have to admit I wasn’t really thrilled with hauling my snuffly-nose-achy-head to the county fair yesterday. I’d rather be miserable at home than at the fair. But, it’s a one-time-a-year sort of deal and, I know from experience, waiting until the last day is a bad idea.

A cowboy with an unusual mount.

We waited past the morning rain and headed to Monroe to hit the fairgrounds in time for a latish lunch made of deep-fried and smoked fair delicacies. I started with the deep fried dill pickles remembering some we had with my brother’s family in Atlanta. I put them on the table to share next to the smoked turkey leg and “cowgirl cocktail.” (A melange of pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw.) It turns out the pickles in Atlanta were much better.

We watched the beginning dog agility course and split up. I was feeling cantankerous with my cold and just didn’t feel sociable, let alone using the amount of energy required to communicate (yell) to say anything to anyone. So I headed to the 4-H craft exhibits as everyone else went off to pet bunnies or something.

As I walk through the mediocre quality handmade clothing and quilts, very little catches my eye. Two quilts show ingenuity and work. The rest just show work. The fine cotton crochet tablecloth with a huge “Best of Show” ribbon makes me pause longer than anything else. It must have been created using a tiny hook and a magnifying lens. It’s intricacies are every bit as beautiful as a new spider web.

I move on to the huckster hall–where the Vitamix guy promises health and vitality through pureed fruits and veggies, the Carnuba wax guy makes you think your car can look all shiny and new, and the sleep comfort guys are too eager to get everyone into bed. I pass by massage chairs, handwriting analysis computers, ring cleaners, political party booths, glass encased beetles (got one last year) and miracle cookware. There are people who will fix your back, your feet and your eyes.

I stop at the booth where the guy is selling Clean-n-Brite. I have to admit, I have some issues with hard water and soap scum in my shower. I’ve tried any number of products and have had no luck getting the glass perfectly clean. Given that I have limestone in the same shower, it’s tricky finding a product that will melt the lime on the glass shower and not the lime in the limestone lintel. I watch with hope as he spreads the bright pink paste across a shower door and lets it sit while he shows me the miracles of the product. He uses axle grease like finger paint on a mirror, makes marks with a crayon next to the grease, and draws lipstick on some tired looking velvet. He sprays a diluted pink spray onto the glass and the crayon and grease melt instantly. The shower door gets another wipe and, voila, the soap scum build up is gone. GONE!

Buying on hope.

At this point I’m wondering, “What the hell is in this stuff?” (Yeah, not editing, cause I wasn’t saying ‘heck’ in my brain…) It’s safe for septic tanks. It’s “environmentally friendly” and “non-toxic” but I still don’t really know what it is. I buy it anyway. Because I am hoping that I’ve finally found something that will work.

I get a special fair deal, of course. And, it’s a bit of product in a rather uncomfortable bag, so I decide to walk it out to the car and free up my hands for the rest of the fair. I’m sort of embarrassed to have considered, let alone purchased a product bearing the label “As Seen on TV,” but only sort of because it’s going to do what I want it to!

As I’m leaving the hall, I notice a new exercise machine. It has a base at the bottom that vibrates back and forth, and the idea is all you have to do is stand on it. The need to hold yourself on, apparently, works the core and helps you lose weight. I have images of the people in the 1950’s standing on a machine with a large strap wrapped around their bottoms and sort of giggle at the twenty-first century adaptation of no-sweat weight loss.

Of course, it’s sort of ironic, this laughter of mine. It turns out, there’s only one product for sale in that hall. It’s not a cleaning product, or a health product. But I’ve bought it nonetheless. I’ve just spent $30 on “hope.”

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