FABRYGRAM: Musings at the County Fair

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April 2016

Musings at the County Fair

The County Fair always makes me think about life. Maybe it's the aroma of corn dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and turkey legs that does it to me. Or the barkers who yell, "Step right up!" Or, "We have a winner!" I guess it could be the lights and booming music, but I think it's something else.

I spent four agonizing hours (and considerable cash) at the County Fair this week so my son could go with a friend and ride some rides. There was a musical group at the main stage that I had never heard, but the audience had because they knew all the songs. I didn't understand the words, but maybe that's not a bad thing.

I believe I was the only person among the thousands in attendance who was reading a Writer's Digest magazine, but I didn't see everybody, so don't hold me to that. The magazine had an article about the importance of email lists and letting readers know what's going on in your life, hence what you see here.

Other than three camels and a seal, I didn't recognize anyone in the crowd. (They were here last year.) Sitting there watching the humanity rush like a river, I didn't see one face I knew. And that bothered me.

I've been in this area since 2009. Surely I should have seen someone I recognized. (Perhaps someone I knew saw me and turned another direction?)

As I watched the guy with the toy he sent high into the air that lit up and came back to him like a boomerang (only $10 for 3 toys), I wondered what his life was like outside of the fair? How does he deal with the daily secondhand smoke?

Five ponies with saddles stood in a circle, waiting for riders. Three men talked and laughed nearby and the ponies never moved. Sometimes I feel like those ponies, but I'm not as patient or cute. They looked lonely and tired. Like they wanted to see a familiar face.

Just about everyone of age had a plastic cup filled with Budweiser or a tall can. An older woman sauntered by, a man with a cane following, walking spider-like to catch up. He gestured and raised his voice, pointed his cane in the air and threw out his other hand. I couldn't understand what he was saying. The woman didn't say much, just kept walking. The veins in the man's neck stood out as he railed. I never did find out their problem or if it was just his, though I admit I did follow them for a while.

Just after 10 p.m. my phone dinged. It was my son. "Come to Wave Rave."

"Ok," I texted.

I was standing in front of the barbecue place that had the beer-battered onion rings for $10. Nearby was the stand selling fried pecan pie. No kidding. I had no idea where Wave Rave was, but I was pretty sure I had been past it about a dozen times.

Past the basketball game with the bent rims, past the quarter tossing game where no one wins, past the ride where you drop from a great height, the Haunted House, G-Force, the Ferris Wheel, another haunted house—this one wasn't quite as ghoulish as the first—and another stand selling fried Twinkies and corn on the cob. Cash only.

The man with the cane and the woman passed me going the other way, his arm around her, walking as if they'd never fought a day in their lives.

And there it was. Wave Rave. And there was my son and his friend, talking and laughing as they waited in line.

And the world felt a lot less lonesome.

As far as I know, the ponies are still waiting.

Chris Fabry

Short Stories in Mature Living

Mature Living CoverLifeWay is going to publish six short stories of mine in the monthly issues of their Mature Living magazine beginning in July. I proofread the first one at the County Fair last night and it made me cry. It's about an older man selling a used car to a younger woman. If the story can make the guy who wrote it cry, I think that's a good thing. (Maybe my short-term memory is going? Hmm.) Be looking for those at your LifeWay store or online at the LifeWay website.


Chris Fabrycf name block


Thanks for subscribing to the FABRYGRAM, a periodic communiqué about life: observations, questions, news, and more.

Coming in July

The Promise of Jesse Woods

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley's childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt's family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight. As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. Read More

I'm excited that Recorded Books has purchased the rights to distribute my upcoming novel The Promise of Jesse Woods and it looks like they're going to let me perform it—which has been a long-time dream of mine. I've read so many of their productions through the years and loved the work of Frank Muller, one of their voice actors, who died in 2008. The reviews from family members about Jesse have been encouraging, so I'm ready for you to discover the promise she made.

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