I have a confession. I’ve been sitting on a too-funny-not-to-tell story for quite some time now, because I couldn’t figure out how to tell it without embarrassing myself. But then I realized that my readership deserved a good laugh, even if it was at my expense, so here goes.
In a delightfully innocent pre-pandemic world, I thought it would be fun if my family took the train from Edmonds to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. It appears they don’t offer this package anymore, but it used to be you could hop on the train, catch a shuttle bus and arrive at the fairgrounds a couple hours later.
Our adventure that sunny, Saturday morning started out fine. We boarded the train and watched the world fly by. The shuttle was fine too — at least it was fast. By the time we arrived at the fairgrounds, we were hungry for lunch.
Many people will say that the food is the best part about state fairs, but not if you’re gluten intolerant. While my family indulged in elephant ears and giant pretzels, I settled for a bun-less hamburger and milkshake. Ten minutes later, as we walked across hot asphalt through swarms of people, the greasy hamburger patty and risk of gluten contamination seemed like a bad idea. My stomach didn’t care how much we had spent to come to the fair, it was flipping out.
It became hotter and hotter. Livestock smells were everywhere. I wanted to go home but we couldn’t. We were stuck at the fair until the train departed in five hours. I clutched my stomach and moaned in pain.
My husband suggested renting me a wagon. “Like I’m a 2-year-old?” I asked.
“At least that way you wouldn’t have to walk,” he said.
“No, thank you.” I parked myself on a bench for a while before eventually rejoining the family. I watched as my son scrambled up a climbing wall and my daughter licked powdered sugar off her hands. All of us sweated in the heat. At one point, we watched a horsemanship show and I managed to dose off for a few seconds, but I spent most of the day fighting the urge to vomit.
At long last, it was time to go home and we boarded the crowded shuttle. The doors opened and closed with a whooshing sound that let in exhaust. My queasy stomach couldn’t take it anymore. I put my hand to my mouth, trying to staunch the flow. When that didn’t work, I grabbed my daughter’s Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and held it in front of me.
“Bleh!” Yes, the person puking in the back of the bus was me. Everyone around us scooted away like I was poison.
“There goes my hoodie,” my daughter said.
“Sorry about that.” My stomach emptied, I felt slightly better; good enough to sleep on the train as we rode home.
My advice for planning a trip to any state fair: Bring hand sanitizer. You don’t know who you might be sitting next to.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at email@example.com.