Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hanging with my homies. . .

Writers don't affiliate like other people.
Normally, I don't consider myself a "family" person. 

Writers don't affiliate like other people.  Many of us try - - we marry, have children. 
But in the end, the merging is difficult.  Writers have a difficult time following through with commitments when something creative is brewing.  We have a hard time staying loyal and true when inconsistencies interfere with our relationships.  

With the possible exception of love for off-spring, writers are conditional friends.  Mess with a writer and you might never see her/him again.  Treat a writer badly and he/she will go away. 
Every writer I know goes to the fair.
The one exception is the great Minnesota get-together; the state fair. No matter how you treat us, every writer I know goes to the fair.  Wouldn't miss it. Maybe that's because we know we won't be noticed at the fair.  Our conspicuous "people watching" is a common past time at the fair.  We're not seen as the leering, curious, often creepy voyeurs we are.  At the Minnesota State Fair writers blend in with the rest of humanity.

And there's another reason we like to go to the fair. Writers who attend the fair can fake family.  When we walk the fairgrounds, we sidle up to the elderly and pretend to belong to their clan.  We stand a little too close to a young mother cuddling her toddler.  We lean in as the sixteen-year-old tells his girlfriend that he's breaking up with her after this ride on The Old Mill.  In short, we pretend we're normal.  
Today, at the fair, I stood this close to Garrison Keillor.  I swear, if I wanted to, I could have reached out and touched him. 

I should have done so.   We're friends, you know.  Garrison and me.  Sure,  he knows me. He even gave me a compliment once.  He knows me.

But today, at the fair, I stood in the pushing crowd,  listening  to his wisdom over the loud speaker - like the rest of the fair-going Minnesotans. Like the rest of my family.

My brothers in flannel shirts, my uncles and cousins wearing dopey Twins baseball hats and carrying WCCO canvas bags - my sisters-in-law in too-big sweatshirts, white-white tennis shoes and jeans with large, rolled cuffs - - I stood among them all and listened to Mr. Keillor's every word. 

We laughed.  We snorted.  We ate our cotton candy and ignored each other. 

For one brief, glorious moment, I allowed myself the luxury of belonging to the marvelous crush of humanity.  Never mind they were noisy, inconsiderate, overweight and obnoxious. I gave myself permission to accept them; to suspend judgment.  I didn't notice the sneer, the irritated insult, the spankings and hushings.  The ugliness of Minnesota humanity disappeared, and I was washed in warm belonging. 

This is, after all, my Minnesota.  I belong here.  I was born, raised, trained, pushed, taunted, teased, tortured and tempered here. 

If I have anything to offer anyone, I want to offer it to Minnesotans. I want to give it freely to my people - to my family. 
I was born, raised, trained, pushed, taunted, teased, tortured and tempered here.

Okay, so we're a little on the obese side. We might not be the brightest or the best - we might not know how to elect a decent governor or how to make a decent flambe from scratch. 

But dammit - we're decent.  We're good to each other in a pinch. We're not to be taken lightly - and we're not to be battered and fried. 

We're home grown, hand made, straight-up and no-nonsense. 

That's my people.  My family.  Don't mess with them or you'll answer to me.  
Or my brother Russ.  He's the tall, bald one.  On the Harley.

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