New country discovered at the Marin County Fair

New country discovered at the Marin County Fair

I spent yesterday at the Marin County Fair. It was, for the most part, a very pleasant experience and could have been any county fair, anywhere in America.

The kids wanted to spend all their time on the midway, standing in long hot lines, spinning to the point of acute nausea, and being suspended upside down for considerable amounts of time. The carnies hawked games guaranteed to lose you as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, in pursuit of elusive and always disappointing prizes.

Inside the fair buildings, you could see beautiful arts and crafts, flowers, creative writing samples, science projects, etc., all the while scratching your head as to why that one, rather than this one, won the prize.

Head over to the farm area, and you could see racing pigs, sleeping turkeys (that was an unexpectedly funny one, as the turkey just collapsed where it lay, so that everyone kept asking “is it dead?”), ridiculously cute bunnies, and surprisingly beautiful chickens. All in all, a typical county fair.

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Or maybe not so typical. First of all, I must share with you the garbage cans gracing the fair. On the Midway, where the hoi polloi hang out, the garbage cans are ordinary, garbage-in-here cans. But on the other side of the fair, the one with the booths and displays, the cans definitely cater to Marin sensibilities:

Clutching the children’s dripping ice cream cone remainders in my hand, I was quickly able to eliminate “bottles and cans,” but got confused by “compost” versus “landfill.” I finally went with the latter choice, seeing it as the safer, catch-all option. But really, who knew that there was going to be an environmental IQ test at the garbage cans at the county fair?

There was another thing that was atypical, not for ordinary fairs, but for the Marin fair. Every year, the Democrats and the Republicans set up booths. What fascinated me this year (and this is an entirely unscientific observation, based on my own periodic walks past the two booths) was the fact that the Democratic booth most closely resembled a ghost town, while the Republican booth consistently had people walking up and just exuded energy. This was fascinating, not only because it visually represented the enthusiasm gap we’re hearing about, but because, in Marin, going near Republican things can make you radioactive if your friends catch you — but this year, fewer people seemed to care.

But what I really wanted to post about was the fact that a new country has been discovered at the Marin County Fair. I kid you not. You see, the fair’s theme was “Going Global — Connecting Cultures.” In the spirit of that theme, the YMCA contributed an umbrella that its members (presumably its young members) had decorated.

I was too short to see the top of the umbrella, but I could see that base holding the umbrella had pasted on it the names of different countries. (The pictures are sidewise to make it easier to view the writing.) You’re familiar with many of these countries:

As you have, I’ve heard of Colombia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Honduras.

Things got a bit surreal, though, on the other side of the umbrella base:

Honduras, Zambia, East Jerusalem, Ireland, Bangladesh.

Whoa, whoa!

Did you say East Jerusalem?

Why, yes, I think that, if you were working with the Y in Marin, you did indeed say that there is a nation among nations called “East Jerusalem.” Apparently the Y is ahead of even the U.N.’s own wishful thinking curve. If it could, there’s no doubt that the U.N. would go back and undo that pernicious 1948 vote creating and recognizing the State of Israel. But why wait for the U.N. to act when you can do it yourself at the Marin Y?

I sometimes think that Marin might be its own country too.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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