I took my family to the Minnesota State Fair this year. It was my dad, my sons and me. Now, my dad gets the same look when he enters the State Fair as when he enters Sam’s Club: this bedazzled, mystical gaze. I guess he’s hypnotized by all the oversized fried food. And, according to tradition, my dad refuses to park in the State Fair parking lot. Instead, he insists that we park on the front lawn of one of the local homeowners who have graciously opened up their sod-covered oasis for a mere $20. I don’t know exactly why my dad does this every year, but I think it has something to do with paying someone for permission to do something that would otherwise be considered rude.
“Here’s $20 so I can drive on your flower bed. For an extra $50, can I toilet paper and egg your house? How much for the “steal your lawn gnomes” package? Do you offer financing?”
We actually found someone this year who was offering his garage for us to park in. We did it, but afterward, it dawned on me that this would have been the perfect scam for a chop-shop. You pay them, you drive your car into their garage, you come back ten hours later…
“You want your car? What car? We only sell used auto parts here, sir. And put down our lawn gnome!”
Anyway, we made our way to the State Fair, and it was hot (my Minnesota standards). It was like 68 degrees! They had a sunscreen dispenser at the Fair entrance with a sign that read, Warning: A Little of this Sunscreen Goes a Long Way! Which I took as a warning to small people. That’s when I learned the hard way that too much sunscreen is really like white body paint. I tried to rub that stuff in for two hours. People thought I was part of the infectious skin disease exhibit.
I should have seized the moment and did mime work for tips!
Now, to fight the heat, they had misters strategically placed around the fairgrounds. These things are like lawn sprinklers for humans. The trouble with these things is that the mist is so gentle that you don’t know you’re getting soaked by these things until it’s WAY too late. You hair is dripping, your fingers are pruned, you’ve got three inches of standing water in your pockets… which, now that I think about it, it probably the most pleasant way to drown (other than pudding).
One of the displays I saw at the fair was for the Police Department. They had these cop cars that you could actually jump inside and look around and the buttons and stuff. It was really cool. The one I sat in also had a half-cup of coffee and a partially eaten sandwich. It made me think, “How realistic!” And that’s when it hit me: This was not a display. I had inadvertently helped myself behind the wheel of an actual, on duty squad car.
I’m just glad I realized this and took off before I got to be the “audience participant” of the “Handcuffing and Miranda Rights Demonstration”.
But, generally, we don’t go to the State Fair to see the exhibits. The displays are merely there to give us something to do while we eat! THAT’S why we go to the fair! Our faces are ALWAYS full of food. We’ll bump into friends and family members that we haven’t seen in years, but all we will be able to manage to do is nod our head and mumble something incoherently through our stuffed cheeks. The number one priority is to keep your deep fried cheese on a stick from falling or getting cold.
And prices are higher at the Fair than in the real world. They charge nine dollars for a hot dog, but you’ll pay it because you just walked six miles to get to the front of the line. Then, after several hours of eating all this deep fried goodness, we’re ready to explode… but THAT’S when the kids become interested in the amusement rides!
“HEY DAD! LET’S RIDE THE COSMIC DISEMBOWLER!
Talk about a fantastic weight loss tool. You can loose 15 pounds in 45 seconds while riding the Cosmic Disemboweler. You may feel a little rough afterwards, but that is easily remedied with more roast corn and lemonade.
But, of all the sights and sounds at this year’s fair, nothing grabbed my attention more than the Red Cross Blood Bank.
You could actually donate blood right there at the State Fair.
Now, don’t get me wrong – donating blood is very important. But, when your donators have just spent the whole day shoveling in Pronto Puffs, Deep Fried Alligator, Deep Fried Cheese, Deep Fried Grease, Deep Fried Grease dipped in Deep Fired Cheese… how would their blood even be extractable?
Next, my dear friend Kerri Pomarolli calls into the show from California! Now, Kerri’s kids are awesome, but her four-year-old daughter had a rough, even “selfish” morning. She threw up all over the place, while Kerri was in the middle of getting ready to go out to breakfast with a friend. Then, she wouldn’t suck it up and go on with her day. I mean, Lazarus was dead and he kept it to himself, why couldn’t her daughter get over a little thing like a fever and vomit? As Kerri puts it, every working parent has had that moment when you send your kid to school, despite the fact they say that they are dying.
“Honey, I love you so much”, Kerri told her little one.
“If you loved me, Mommy, you’d stay home.”
“I don’t love you THAT much, but I’ll call you. Just don’t tell your teacher about throwing up. I’ll give you a lollipop if you don’t tell her. In fact, I’ll give you cash money if you stay silent!”
Then her teacher called Kerri.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Pomarolli, but your daughter is unconscious under the table.”
“You know what… I’m out at breakfast. And, I don’t know anything about a rash.”
“Can you come pick her up, Mrs. Pomarolli?”
“No, I don’t think that is appropriate right now. I’m sorry that she has the Swine Flu, but no.”
These LAUSD schools can be so selfish!
Not to mention that kids today need to toughen up. Back in our day, kids were stronger. We had toys and activities that would kill us, if we weren’t skilled, strong and able.
The key is to engage in the act of parenting.
Finally, funnyman and motivational speaker Derrick Tennant joins the show. Now, in addition to being hilarious by nature and incredibly inspiring, Derrick is paralyzed on his left side, due to an injury years ago. He’s unable to use his left arm and walks with a limp. (This explains his website, leftarmcomedy.com). Derrick was fourteen and had a headache, which turned into a coma (not to scare anyone who has a headache right now). The doctors thought that he would likely die that evening.
But he didn’t.
While in his coma for three days, Derrick underwent brain surgery for “Random bleeding from point X for an unknown reason” – That’s the actual verbiage in Derrick’s medical report!
Upon recovery, Derrick had to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, brush his teeth… all the normal things that a teenage boy could normally do. It was like being a baby the size of a fourteen-year-old.
When he came out of his coma, his eyes were swollen shut as a result of his surgery, he couldn’t speak, but he could move the fingers on his right hand. So they gave him a pen and paper so he could write to communicate. Now, Derrick thought that he was being perfectly clear, but he learned later that he was only clear in his own mind. At one point, his dad asked him a question, and Derrick clearly remembers writing “yes”. But, instead it looked like scribblings of a two-year-old. His dad asked him a follow up question, and Derrick thought that he had circled his “yes” to repeat his answer. However, on the paper, there is his “yes” and then a circle nine inches away, at the edge of the paper.
To say that communication was difficult is an understatement.
Derrick kept that paper as a reminder, even today.
Days later, Derrick regained his ability to speak, but he needed assistance for getting up, moving around, and everything else in life.
He has since learned not only how to function on his own, but to see the hidden blessings in life. In fact, whenever he speaks, he spends the first five minutes or so sharing his story and how it impacts him today (While other people at weddings dance and do the YMCA, Derrick does the LOL)
What’s incredible is that Derrick has been training for what he does today, beginning back when he was a little kid. Even before his coma, youth pastors would ask him to speak, as a counterpoint to the often heard “I was on heroin and kicked out of the house at 13… that’s when Jesus found me!”
Ironically, the title of Derrick’s talk was actually, “You Don’t Need a Tragedy to Have a Testimony”.
Now, (post-tragedy), Derrick shares with his audiences that love was essential to his recovery. We’re not talking the “REO Speedwagon / Couples Skate at the Roller Rink” kind of love. Derrick makes very clear that when he talks about “love”, he means putting someone else’s needs in front of your own needs. Just like what Jesus Christ did for all of mankind. Derrick’s family has exemplified this kind of love since he was a child, through all of life’s hills and valleys. Most of all, Derrick’s sister has lived out this selfless love. She’s one of those people who is beautiful, funny, successful, lights up the room whenever she walks in, she owns her own business and everyone wants to be near her. In fact, even thought Derrick performs on stages all over the place, he is most often known by the moniker “Julie’s brother”. And he’s great with that because his sister is so cool!
Julie also has Down’s Syndrome, which is caused by her having an extra chromosome. Their grandfather told her that she doesn’t have an extra chromosome, but that most people are actually missing one.
He called it the “Love Chromosome”.
And, if you’ve ever met anyone with Down’s Syndrome, you know that they know how to love uninhibitedly – beyond most what most people are able.
This has forever impacted not just how Derrick reacted to his own tragedy, but how he views life in general. You can learn all about Julie’s story HERE and hopefully, her love will impact your life as well, and help you learn to choose to love your life; or check out Julie’s Facebook Page!