I’ve been embracing my inner hick since my recent move away from the big city of Toronto and into the country. Plaid shirts, straw hats and a much keener sense of how this year’s crop of corn is coming along. The initiation into my newfound rural existence was completed last month with my attendance at the Brooklin Spring Fair and Demolition Derby.
Culture means different things to different people. For some, it’s wandering the refurbished halls of the AGO or ROM in Toronto. For others it’s watching Christopher Plummer perform in the Stratford Festival’s production of The Tempest. For still others, it’s a weekend tour of Niagara wine country.
And yes, for some it’s eating nachos and cheese while watching battered wrecks of cars smash into each other until they are all rendered un-drivable.
My friends Sara and Rico moved to Brooklin, a small town near Whitby, Ontario with a lot of pride in their country roots. As part of their housewarming celebrations, we decided to take in the Brooklin Fair that was happening the same weekend.
For those of you who have never been to a country fair, imagine a place seemingly designed with sole objective of making you barf. This fair seemed to have the formula for vomit figured out perfectly:
Beer tent + hot dogs, cotton candy and greasy pizza + reeking port-a-potties + carnie rides designed to spin you around as fast as possible + too many mullets = vomit.
The fair grounds were jam-packed with a startling sea of underage skin. I’ve never seen so many skanked-out 13-year-olds in my life. The hyper-sexualized culture of today’s tweens and teenagers is a disturbing trend. And judging by the number of way-too-young mothers pushing babies in strollers there, it’s clear the trend has some ugly consequences.
My buddy Shaun and I paid the overpriced admission to one of the carnival rides. I can’t remember what it was called but “Barf-a-tron 2000,” “Spinning Puke Wheel of Pukiness” or “Bulimia Buddy” all would have been appropriate names for this mechanically unsound monstrosity.
“So, Mr. Carnie, tell me about the Bile Buster.”
“Well, young man, you pay me $5.50 and I’ll make you throw up that 7 dollar hot dog you just ate.”
“Golly! What a deal!”
Miraculously I managed to keep from throwing up but felt like garbage for the rest of the night. That is of course until the nausea was replaced by the adrenaline pumping through my veins when the demolition derby started.
The quick and dirty of a demolition derby is this:
- Five or six cars enter a boxed in area surrounded by grandstands filled with hundreds and hundreds of screaming yokels who just spent the last three hours in the beer tent.
- The cars drive around the field crashing into each other, eliciting oohs and aahs from the crowd.
- Eventually the cars get so smashed up they are no longer able to drive and are counted out by referees (yes, there are referees).
- The car that lasts the longest wins (if getting your car destroyed can be considered winning).
But here’s the thing. As much as I wanted to cling to my sophisticated, big city sense of what real culture was; as much as I wanted to berate Sara and Rico Brown for forcing me to endure such an idiotic display (and rest assured: it IS idiotic), I simply couldn’t. It was positively exhilarating. Watching cars smash into each other is awesome. It probably has something to do with how we played with dinkie cars when we were kids, crashing them into each other in giddy delight.
So dare I say it? Thank you to the Browns for introducing me to demolition derbies. It may not be Shakespeare or a Chardonnay, but the country fair gets this country bumpkin’s nauseous stamp of approval.
Go to a demolition derby? Check.
Duane Elgin, author of “Voluntary Simplicity”, talked about the “invisible wealth of experiential riches.” My “I’ve Never Club” is inspired by this idea and chronicles my reflections on the novel things I’ve done recently.
Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.