"Have I been blind/Have I been lost/Inside my self and/My own mind/Hypnotized/Mesmerized/By what my eyes have found/In that great street carnival/In that carnival?"
-Natalie Merchant, 1994
"I don't know what these goddamn logistics are, but make sure I get a lot of them!"
-Unknown US Army general, 1940
A big week up here at the Lodge. Our church decided to have a kids' carnival to kick off the fall and winter children's programming. The committee in charge came up with the idea in the middle of August, and there were basically two people in charge-my own Better Half and another woman, who we'll call Charlotte the Harlot, or CTH for short (about which more later). As for labor, well, you can guess who got conscripted for that.
You'd probably think three people couldn't round up games, food, entertainment, volunteers, and get the whole thing set up in a month-what with work and other commitments.
You'd be right. But we were only about half an hour short. Possibly the first mistake made was to have the event on a Wednesday night. Obviously if we'd done this on a weekend day, we'd have had a better chance of getting a few more troops to help with set up. We had one guy volunteer to help. Unfortunately, he has the tendency to work for 10 minutes, and yack for 50. I rather figured we'd not get a lot out of him, and just this one time the gift of prophecy worked. Thanks.
"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign/Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind/Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"
-Five Man Electrical Band, 1971
One of the tasks I had was to make signs for the various games at the carnival. How most of the games worked was that the children would do whatever the game was, and get a block of tickets, redeemable for prizes (little gewgaws that the Chinese are so adept at making-you know, the things like you find at dollar stores-hey, for a four or five-year-old, it's cool).
Below are some of the signs. Looking back, I'd probably not have done anything so elaborate, but I felt the need to show off a bit. Pride goeth before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. And the time spent on these could have used elsewhere in the project.
On the other hand, I was told to make some fancy signs, and given a description of what was required. So I was only following orders. That defense worked at Nurnburg and Tokyo, didn't it?!? Sure it did!
'Walls of Jericho' was the game where you toss the ball at the stack of blocks or bowling pins or whatever and win the prize.
And the Wheelbarrow Race, where the two-person teams (one as the 'wheelbarrow' and one as the pusher) compete for the prize. Those of you reading this, do me a kindness and don't show this to Hanna-Barbera's lawyers. I don't need trouble for, umm, 'borrowing', certain of their characters.
Yes, voted 'most likely to paint silly nose art on airplanes' when I left school. In many ways I suppose I should've followed up and got artistic training somewhere. Ended up doing about 20 posters. And 5 kilos of sloppy joes. And setting up. And being a gofer.
The director of children's ministries came up to me and said 'YD, I didn't know you were an artistic type!". Yes, well, there's a reason for that. Generally I prefer to remain under the radar. Now I'm going to get pestered to make posters for every event. Oops.
"I'faith, sir, you shall never need to fear:/ I wis it is not half way to her heart;/ But if it were, doubt not her care should be/To comb your noddle with a three-legg'd stool/ And paint your face and use you like a fool."
-William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1, Scene 1
"I said girl, don't go away mad/Girl, just go away"
-Motley Crue, 1989
But, as in every endeavor, there's always that one person, always that 10 percent, who can't play nice. Such was the other person in charge, Charlotte the Harlot (CTH). A religious person would say 'she's full of demons'. I'm not that religious. The woman is simply a bitch (Sorry, if any ladies are reading this, but I don't know a better term and many worse). She was trouble at Vacation Bible School, and I could tell she was going to be trouble here. She was sullen the whole day, and kept saying 'I asked for three weeks what I could do and kept getting blown off!" What she was given to do she half-assed her way through and we couldn't get a hold of her at all. After the carnival, I remarked to her that she could have been more civil, and I wasn't sure given the time we had that she'd have done better. She then stormed over to TBH and said 'Don't send your fiance over to jump on me! If you have a problem you come talk to me!" Thereupon, the pastor came over and had to play cop and tell her to go home. CTH dropped an F-Bomb on the pastor then went and pouted.
She can stuff it. TBH is the most mild-mannered person there is. CTH was looking for a fight all day. She wrote a lukewarm apology the next day. She even accused me of 'attacking her character'. Whatever. She can plant her lips on my pasty white posterior. I thought I left people like that behind when I got out of school. Good to see the subspecies is alive and thriving.
"The kids are alright!"
-The Who, 1965
So the carnival wasn't done up according to CTH's standards, and we were late getting rolling. But once we got up and running, the kids had a good time! The games went well, all things considered. We had a face painter (always popular), a fellow who made balloon animals, a dunk tank (amazing when you have the pastor in the dunk tank how good everyone's aim gets), and an inflatable jumpy. Everyone got enough to eat (I didn't poison anyone with the sloppy joes-I can do a mass feeding. We Americans are the masters of mass feeds. And invasions.). A lot of people from the neighborhood came in and everyone was well behaved (good, because the area is a bit rough at times). That the kids enjoyed the event was much more important than the event being done perfectly! A lot of people came up to TBH after the carnival and commented that it went well. Much more important than one dissenter complaining.
Were there things we could have done better? Certainly. It was our first one. The following ones will be easier.
Next time we'll start planning earlier-March or April, maybe. Set up a committee to handle food, and one for games and prizes, and let them do their thing. Have the carnival on a weekend day to make it easier to get helpers. We already have a lot of the games in house now. Check out other school/church carnivals and see what they do. Standard stuff. And I'll be quite happy to do ONE (and only one) thing for it-run a game, or, better yet, cook something. But no more strategic planning for a while. I didn't need this right now, although events on other fronts are at good points, all things considered.
Whew! What a week. I'm beat, more mentally than physically. Although the Greek Orthodox church in town (yes we have one!) is having their outdoor carnival/festival today. I think we're going to check it out-recon, ya know-
-and baklava! Mmmm, (drool)....baklava.