Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
I had to weave my way through the rides and booths and tents for the past several days as they were setting up, wondering the whole time how they would possibly fit a carnival of any size on Bachman Lawn, the patch of grass that fronts the university at Dole Street.
I was expecting claustrophobic crowds at best, a muddy bog at worst. I even thought maybe we should have just hoofed it from our apartment, figuring parking would be a nightmare.
Instead, we got a spot on the street just past the KHET studio, easily walking the few yards to the bright lights and music (Katie taking in the sights from the fancy hiking carrier on my back). and there were no muddy holes nor long lines to be seen.
In fact, the only waiting seemed to be on the rides themselves, as the operators waited for at least a handful of people to climb aboard before running them.
Most striking was "The Inverter," basically a huge platform like a bus without a roof that rocked a few times before completely flipping upside down. Once, twice, even stopping for an agonizing two seconds at the very peak of the flip. I half expected to see a shower of coins and cigarettes.
Although Jen was eager to get a few thrills, "The Inverter" didn't turn up on her hit list. Instead, she started with the classic big swing thing, followed up with the pseudo Tilt-a-Whirl™ thing, and then jumped on the huge swinging boat thing.
She came off of that one unable to walk a straight line. She had a blast... albeit by herself.
I love carnivals. I love walking around, I love peoplewatching, I love the disgusting oily food. But I know I'm a major downer, a wet blanket, when it comes to rides. Jen loves to tell the story of our trip to Disneyworld, where we stood in the infamous 90-minute line winding our way to the top of Thunder Mountain, only to have me chicken out and step into and right out of the rollercoaster car when we got to the top.
Jen's rule is, "If it flips upside down, get out of town." My rule is, "Here, I'll hold your purse."
I'm real popular in large groups, of course. I'm a combination photographer and hat-rack. But I suck as the sweetheart, the brave husband. (I don't go for haunted houses or even most scary movies, either.)
And yet she still loves me. Or at least says she does. It's just Exhibit No. 1517-J in the ever-growing "why I'm a lucky, lucky bastard" file.
We dined on floppy pizza slices, crumbly hot dogs, soggy teri beef burgers and watery Pepsi, and loved every empty calorie. We struck up a conversation with a remarkably friendly couple from the furthest reaches of Manoa Valley, and learned that Texas Christian University was leading the Rainbows 14-7 at halftime. (We eventually lost 34-14 damn!)
The crowd slowly grew as the evening progressed, getting things moving, but still there was plenty of room to stroll.
Suddenly, out of the blue, Doris Ching (UH Vice President of Student Affairs) and Amy Agbayani (UH Director of Equity and Diversity) walked up and introduced themselves, cooed over Katie and remarked on seeing Katie on the front page last week.
"That was my watch in the picture," Agbayani joked to Jen.
I took advantage of the opportunity to apologize to Agbayani about accidentally thinking she was on the UH Board of Regents.
"I'll take that as a good omen," Ching said, laughing. "I like that... wishful thinking!"
We told them we were impressed with the carnival, and they said they were too. Given all the sponsors and groups involved, it was a success all around, from fundraising to public relations.
Hopefully they'll do it again next year. No doubt on the crowds will get bigger, and chances are it'll be moved to the lower campus fields or something, but for now it was just right. And it won't be long before I'll be holding two purses, gaping up as both Jen and Katie have the time of their lives.