Carnett: A curmudgeonly view of the fair

OK, I messed up.


After all those good-faith promises that I made to myself, I've gone and stepped in it.

Soon, and very soon, King Kong will be lounging in my backyard, swilling sweet tea and eating deep-fried brownies — for a whole month.

And I'll be at his mercy. Alas, I've no one to blame but myself.

King Kong, of course, is the Orange County Fair. The 123rd edition of this beast commences Friday and runs through (ugh!) Aug. 12.

I've already broken out in hives. Thirty thousand people are expected to be there opening day — in the first hour! Eighty thousand for the entire day. Lee didn't bring that many to Gettysburg.

Oh, the humanity!

More than 286,000 cars will park at the fair during the month, 12,500 per day. A sizable share of them will drive within a few hundred feet of my front door.

This year's theme, "Home Sweet Home," is, I'm certain, a cynical swipe aimed directly at me. I've been on record in this space expressing my dissatisfaction with this behemoth, which annually shoehorns itself into my neighborhood.

"Home Sweet Home" is my comeuppance.

My home during the run of this fair will be anything but sweet.

"Home Loudly Discordant Home" would be a more apt description. Or, how about "Home I'm-in-Your-Face-Morning-Noon-and-Night-Wednesdays-Through-Sundays-For-a-Whole-Month Home"?

Sure, sure, I know. A million people — who flock like lemmings to its precincts each summer — adore the fair. And a million can't be wrong, right?

Tell that to Napoleon's million-man "Grande Armee" of 1812. Those million thought they were headed to Moscow to feast on beluga caviar and vodka. They sang a different tune months later as their bedraggled ranks staggered back to the Seine.

But, it seems the world does love the O.C. Fair, and I'm outvoted, even in my own household. My family members are passionate about it. The two daughters and three granddaughters who live locally will all attend this year.

Not me. Harrumph!

I've probably attended the fair 50 times in my lifetime, but not once in the past decade. I've lived two blocks away for 37 years, and within a mile of the fairgrounds since 1952. Proximity has not made this heart grow fonder.

OK, there was a time — when I was younger — when I kind of liked it. But not now!

Admittedly, I've become a curmudgeon. I see the fair as a foul, noisy, pollution-spewing nuisance that annually disrupts my quiet neighborhood. And, at this stage of life, I'm big into quiet.

On my block, one can't ignore this intrusive neighbor. It lurks daily on our public streets, in our backyards and, on warm summer evenings, it steals through open windows into our dining rooms, family rooms and bedrooms.

Four years ago when I retired and gained control of my schedule I promised myself that my wife, Hedy, and I would take our summer vacations during the run of the fair — just to avoid it.

That's yet to happen.

You see, I have three granddaughters in North Carolina who are delicate flowers. Ages 6, 9 and 11, they take dance lessons, and every June they participate in their dance school's public recital. It's a big deal.

For the love of Mike, what kind of grandparents would we be were we to miss those recitals? We were there this June for the fourth year in a row, tears streaming unashamedly down our faces.

But, taking our vacation in June means we're home in July and August — just in time for you know what!

So, Hedy and I will be here Friday through Aug. 12, for the entire run of this year's bad boy. And, frankly, it's not looking too good for us next year, either. Another recital, you know.

I just checked North Carolina's weather forecast for the fair's opening weekend: temps in the high 90s with oppressive humidity.

Hmmm. It'll be about 75 in Costa Mesa, with ocean breezes. I'm thinking we'll do that dance recital gig again next June.

Welcome to mi casa, Mr. Kong!

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.

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