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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Carnival Kidnapping

No, I wasn’t kidnapped by a carnival -- not only did I join of my own free will, I didn’t even run away to get “with it.”

This was at the end of my first season with the show and I was majorly sick of the 1950s-esque restrictions. You know, “don’t sleep with any of the guys unless you’re gonna shack up with him for the season.” You see, everyone would think I was nothing but a stone whore if I just went off for a one night stand. Christ, I thought I’d escaped high school tiny brained male/female horseshit!

On top of this, I was also utterly fried from not making the piles of dough I’d been assured I'd earn. I wasn’t even certain I’d have bus fair back to Pennsylvania let alone the bucks for textbooks and art supplies.

I don’t remember the name of the spot, the town we were playing when this happened. For that matter, I’m not even sure of which state we were in. That season I was never sure. I’d wake when we drove onto the pre-set-up midway and ask “am I legal in this state?” Hey, I was 19 and had my priorities down solid.

On our one night off in yet another microscopically small Midwestern town I said, fuck it, I’m going into town for a drink. I caught a lift with some of the ride jocks to the only bar in town. They played pool and I sat at the bar and looked for vaguely intelligent non-carnie conversation.

I found it -- 2 men, one young (20s) one older (40ish maybe). I don’t recall what we talked about, after all this was 33 years ago, but we had some laughs.

I was ready to head back to the midway to sack out but the pool playing ride jocks weren’t. My new “friends” said they’d give me a lift. I remember thinking “no, bad idea -- I don’t really know these guys.” and also thinking “eh, you’re too suspicious and they’ll be offended if they see you don’t trust them. Take the ride. what could go wrong?” 

Yeah, I was young and preposterously naive. We get to their car in the parking lot and they maneuvered things such that I was sitting in between them on the front bench seat. I got a bad feeling but told myself I was being silly and to ignore my instincts.

The 2 men weren’t making with the conversation anymore. They weren’t talking at all and I was thinking I’d made a very bad call in not trusting my self preservation impulses.

As we approached the turn off for the fairgrounds I made sure to tell them “we’re coming up on the turn -- it’s this next right.” They didn’t stop. In fact they sped up as they blew past the big entrance sign. Panic and fear were settling into every one of my nerve endings. Still acting as though they’d accidentally missed the turn off I said and kept saying “you missed the turn. stop. stop and go back.” They didn’t.

I was sure now that what I saw in the dark, midnight distance was my death and it wouldn’t be a quick, painless one either.

Before I could muscle my way out of my monster panic state one of the men said “hey, isn’t that the carnie truck coming up behind us?” They sped up while I allowed myself a tiny sliver of hope.

And then, happily, ecstatically then, I saw reflections of flashing blue and red lights in the rear view mirrors. Apparently the chase looked a bit suspicious to the most welcome police. That and both car and truck were speeding through the outskirts of a sleepy rural burgh.

Both vehicles were pulled over. Wow, kidnapper guys actually pulled over! I guess what they’d planned for me wasn’t worth getting busted over. One of the men in blue came up to the car -- the younger of my captors rolled down the window and tried to speak. The cop hushed him and asked me “are you married to Mark in the red truck?”  No, of course not but I said “YES, YES, YES.” They had me get out of the car, returned me to my proper “owner” with an admonishment not to run off on my husband like that again. I was all “yes, officer. I’ll NEVER do that again” as I jumped into the red truck.

The guys gave me the skinny. They saw me leave with the strangers and got pissed. NO carnie woman goes with suckers! I told them how their otherwise offensive bullshit ownership problem had actually saved my life. I was never so happy to have been regarded as chattel.

Funnily enough, after this, the guys treated me with respect -- OK, “respect” for them. I was still the “college bitch” and they were still “midget dicks” but things had changed. Not far underneath the name calling was affection and acceptance.

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