Local Color: DS Church Fair

Now, it's no big secret that I'm a rabid lapsed Catholic, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying a good church fair. It had been years since I'd been so off we trooped to see what the church parking lot had to offer in the form of Saturday night entertainment.

I was disappointed to find out the local parish had done away with the mouse game where a terrified mouse (of a plentiful domestic variety) was tipped out of a box in the middle of a table (very primitive rendition to your right), music was played and when it stopped, the guy running the game would pull a lever and open the holes and the mouse would scurry in. If the mouse ran into the hole of the color where you had placed your ticket, you won! It was like anti-PETA roulette and it was
very popular, for obvious reasons. Occasionally the mouse would have to "rest" and the game would be halted for a little while but it would soon resume with a refreshed mouse. People couldn't get enough of their Catholic duty at this booth.

Since those days, the games have all been replaces by run-of-the mill skill games, tossing ping pong balls into jars with fake fish to win a real fish in a plastic bag, shooting baskets, and the ring toss. Lucky for us, nephew Andrew has a freakish gift for sports and killer hand-eye coordination so we cleaned up, but good. He's like the Rain Man of carnival games and one of these days I plan on taking him around the state to rake in the prizes. Because, really, can a person have too many jumbo sized stuffed Tweety Birds? I thought not.

One area where the fair didn't disappoint was in the food. Not only tasty it was dirt-freaking-cheap, it was good stuff. So cheap, I almost felt guilty paying a single dollar ticket for two, count 'em TWO, tacos al carbon. They were so good we went back a couple of times and realized we were essentially going to eat dinner for under $5. Add a can of Spirit for the outrageous price of another $1 ticket (the church will always stick it to you somehow) we were feeling pretty flush with cash and like we'd finally gotten something over on the pope.

Since lapsed Catholics can't live by tacos alone, I then made my way over to the novelty foods section of the fair. They had pastries, those multi-colored jello's in plastic cups, but I had my taste buds set on one thing and one thing only: orange "cheese" nachos. I handed over my ticket and watched as the guy packed a modest amount of chips into a environmentally friendly Styrofoam container and then ladled the cheese stuff on top, the jalapeños I added myself. They were so tasty we took some back for my other nephew who declined to come to the fair. (He's an even worse Catholic than I am, but he does like his nachos.)

Wisely the parish had not done away with lotería. Basically a bingo game played with the aide of dried pinto beans and various Mexican stereotypes. At a $1 ticket per card, this is where the parish was expecting to break even--I swear they were practically giving those tacos away. Now I know why.

Behind the woman who was calling out the cards was an array of prizes, good stuff too, like toys and, uh, more toys. That's me right before our first game. I hadn't played or had been this close to a church in a while so I figured God owed me something for coming. We had our eye on the Playmobile set (I'm a Playmobile addict) but despite playing 10 cards (read:$10) between all of us, we didn't come close to winning once. And once again I was let down by the church of my youth.

We saved the best for last and used what remained of our $20 (actually we spent close to $40, including games and such) to buy confetti eggs. These, uh, confetti filled eggs are by far one of the best Mexican inventions of all time and a perfect Catholic tool as they combine both pleasure and pain. At four eggs for a $1 ticket, we had enough money left to give each of us a minor concussion. Now some people run, forcing the egg holder to chase them. In my opinion, running just pisses the person off and makes them bring down the egg with that much more force. It's best just to hunker down and take it like a Catholic.

After the painful event, and picking egg shell out of your hair, you're left with a festive spraying of happy confetti. And in the end, isn't that what religion is all about?
Well, isn't it?

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