Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Beginning

I don't know who would ever want to read this, but the memories bang around in my head and sometimes late at night I have to get them out, "My life as Carny" memories.

My stories will be random, no real order, maybe I won't even write more than a few, I don't know.

I started in 1980, maybe it was 79, a long time ago. That was my first summer as a Carny. What a summer it was. I was a kid on the road for the summer while all the other kids out of school were at home doing chores, playing ball, going to the pool, summer stuff. I was hopping from city to city, Midway to Midway, barely able to comprehend it all.

The lights of the Midway were dizzying to me at times as I remember. Everything was exciting and overwhelming, the Carny characters I met, the cities, the long jumps, and I loved it. A lot of the people I met that summer would be my friends for the rest of my life.

A lot of people try being a Carny and never stay. I don't blame them. They just don't have the endurance, physically or mentally. Endurance is something you're born with. You can have physical endurance but not mental endurance. To be a Carny you must have both in my informed opinion. Most people live by a set of rules, or within the lines. They are so worried what everyone else will think. We don't give a shit...period. We're not worried about what others think, keeping up with the Joneses etc. We don't want stuffy college class rooms, mortgages, to be tied down, saving up for the future. We live today. We love today. We're always moving. We can't stand being tied down. Many of us have made attempts at it. The road always lures us back.

The people who stay working and living as a Carny don't fit in to the conventional restraints of the modern world, or society. We have transient natures. Maybe it's an evolutionary left over, I really don't know. A lot of people call themselves Carnies. Some of them are. Some aren't. Working a season or two on the road can be a little adventure for some but it's a phase and they don't stay. The people I'm talking about are the lifers. They are the true Carnies.

I've been doing this job for a lifetime now with no regrets. I too have made the odd attempt at settling down to a more conventional existence but to no avail. The world is too slow off the road. Each day blends into the next and there's always a sameness. I've been told "that's life!" But is it? Really? I don't think so!

I love the Carnival. I love the lights. I love the crowds. I love rolling down the highway to the next city. I love sitting up high in the cab of the truck and smoking as I stare out the window at the blackness, or the highway, watching the towns pass by. Always keeping a watchful eye on the driver and knowing by his slight nodding when it's my turn to drive.
I love the Midway late at night too, or the wee hours of the morning, just before dawn, when everything is shut down and quiet. The rides remind me of sleeping monsters looming in the dark.

It's a rough life, the hours are long, and the pay never worth it, but I don't fit anywhere else. I don't really want to fit anywhere else. The last day of my first season as a kid I will never forget. We had worked all night tearing down and it was early morning. My boss paid me and told me to grab my stuff, he would drive me to the bus depot. They were going on but I was a kid, school would be starting in another week and I had to get home. I didn't want to go home...ever. I was home. He wasn't buying any of it though. He was a gruff old bastard. There was no way in his eyes that this kid had paid any real dues working one season in a joint. "Move your ass!" He said.
I said my goodbyes to everyone and hopped in the truck and off we went. On the way to the bus depot I told him I didn't want to go to school, it was boring. I wanted to stay here, with him and everyone else. He told me not to be "Fucking stupid!" in his gruff manner. I'd be looking up a dead horses ass if I didn't finish school. My life was never the same after that summer. I learned more about life and people in 5 years on the road than I ever would have learned in University.

I still look forward to the beginning of the season like I always have. I'm a longer in the tooth now. A lifetime has gone by it seems, though I remember being that kid like it was yesterday. It's a young mans game and a much older one replaced him. The years flew. Carnies came and went. Some died. Some were born. There's no place I'd rather be.


mc said...

"The rides remind me of sleeping monsters looming in the dark."

I discovered your blog yesterday and I enjoy reading your experiences. Most blogs are packed with boring perspectives from brain dead robots.
Your voice is unique.
And you're a helluva writer.

Thanks for sharing.


Who Cares said...

Thanks, and thanks for reading.

darling24_7 said...

Hi Ive been jumping from post to post. You do write well and thanks for sharing. Ill drop by again :)

Anonymous said...

You have a real passion for the carny lifestyle and writing. an excellent way to turn lemon into lemonade.