My Grand Annual Tradition of Money-Wastery

I sure wish I had it in me to write something meaningful and profound today. But I don’t.

We went to the PNE (a local, annual fair and amusement park) yesterday.

While at the PNE I realized that going to the PNE with children is a lot like going to Chuck E. Cheese: Varying amounts of fun are had for astronomical amounts of money and the minute they leave, they want to go back. Since I have been going to the PNE since donuts cost a quarter and the carnies were old men instead of teenagers, including a several-year stint when I worked there and several-more when SA and I went and watched the live music and drank expensive beer, I guess it’s one of my traditions. I can’t fight it.

(And at least, unlike Chuck E. Cheese, you get exercise. My mother accompanied us with her pedometer and informed us afterward that we walked 7.3 kms. Which, given that I am still fighting the half cold/half sinus infection/all evil illness that I was fighting last week, wasn’t the brightest thing to do, but hey it forced me to bed before 9 pm.)

I guess I could have easily broken the tradition. The first, second, and third years that we took them were completely not memorable for the kids.

Year one:

Year three: See Trombone below with his hands clapped over his ears? Fresco cried through the entire train ride. Awesome time. So glad we spent the money.

Last year, they did this Farmyard Experience where you learn about where your food comes from and at the end get a snack. The Farmyard Experience yielded two precious memories for Trombone:

1. He got to practice roping a (pretend) sheep with a lasso

2. At the end, there was chocolate milk.

So this year as we approached the gates, I said, “What are you looking forward to?” And he said, “Chocolate milk!” Three guesses what was different about the farmyard experience this year!

I bought him a chocolate milk to make up for it. $2.50!

Also, this year there was no sheep roping, which is too bad. Trombone has been practicing all year on his brother.

Turns out five year olds are brave. Trombone waited for 30 minutes to go on the kids’ roller coaster. And he didn’t even puke!

They fished in a pool of murky water and for $5 each “won” a piece of crap plush toy. On the bright side, the piece of crap plush toys they won last year for, I swear, only $2 each, are still much loved. SA had to convince me to give the guy $10 for two pieces of crap plush toys. I really didn’t want to do it.

Similarly, I hemmed and hawed over what to eat. Some people make a big show of packing a giant amount of food and eating it on a blanket and not spending any money on food, but I am not those people. For one thing, it takes TIME to pack all that food, and then you have to carry it around with you, and then the children see other people eating french fries and start seagulling over to their tables. Or you, the adult, smell the french fries and say fuck it, I’m not eating this clammy ham sandwich, I want french fries!

Anyway. The PNE is a giant money pit. You take your money, you throw it in the pit.

I ate a Crazydog. That is a hot dog buried in a side dish. It was called the Unroutine Poutine and it was a hot dog underneath fries, gravy, cheese and bacon. Oh and green onions for the vegetable. It cost $11 and in PNE-dollars, it was actually worth it.

And yes, I got it in my mouth.

And no, I did not get sick afterward. But then, I don’t go on the rides that make you sick. Now THAT would be a waste of money.

I saw two pre-teen boys waiting with their mother for the gates to open; one with way too much blond hair and the other all legs and arms, dancing to the terrible hip-hop. I have the feeling that will be me five years from now. By then I’ll probably have to dip into the kids’ education funds to pay for their ride passes and cotton candy. But someday, they can sweep garbage like I did and earn their own money. And the tradition will continue.

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