Carnival Tales From The Hood

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Yesterday was bright and sunny enough to spend outdoors. Spring is at long last blooming…so I decided after my morning errands to attend the carnival running at a local park. Y’know, have some FUN… Of course I felt foolish going alone, so I asked my mom if I could take Pito (the five-year-old she cares for). She was ecstatic to get a break, so off Pito and I went to enjoy a sunny day. Pito’s a cool kid: always relaxed and prepared to have a good time. He struggles a bit with attention, but I managed to get him to understand the rules before getting to the park: 1) No running ahead of me 2) Stay where I can see you 3) Have FUN! All of which he followed to the letter even stopping to look behind him while exiting a ride just to make sure I was there (which cracked me up)! The first ride were the bumper cars. I knew this was gonna be fun…Pito is a confident kid, insisting on driving. He’s very gracious & unselfish even when he’s excited about something, so he made room for me. Mom had given me a purse with some cash & an instant camera for some quick photos to record the events, but I was struggling with keeping things together (How do moms do it?!) without losing my grip on all the items I was carrying. When the ride started, I couldn’t help laughing & screaming out loud as Pito spun the car over and over in a perfect circle as we crashed into the other cars. It was a good run too… I maneuvered the wheel in the opposite direction once or twice so we could get a little change of scenery, but we were having so much fun, it didn’t matter. When the ride was over, I checked to see if I had everything and Pito raced out ahead of me. I called out, “Pito! Remember our rule…” and he stopped, stood like a statue at the exit gate & waited until I had caught up. It was hysterical. Next, we walked toward the “Silly Shack” which is a mini obstacle course of strange, disorienting moving parts, rubber strings, chains, and the grand finale: a spinning spiral tube you have to balance on to get out. Again, hysterical. I kept reminding Pito of how many tickets we had left, and he was semi-listening as he made his way to the water-gun game. The prize is a dollar-store stuffed toy, but he wanted to play, so I had him play two rounds (even as I saw that two of the squirters were poorly rigged & damaged a little). “Again!” he said. But I reminded him that I didn’t have enough left (as the pay-to-play was in addition to the ticket purchase & $2 cash for each game was killing my buzz). So I managed to easily distract him with the reminder that we had 6 tickets left. I said, we can go on the bumper cars again or you can pick one last ride on something else. The kid’s sharp, so he chose carefully and wisely, picking the mini-coaster ride a stone’s throw away from the game booth. I knew he’d have to ride alone, but the ride is ridiculously small & the barricade is short enough that I could keep my eye on him at all times. Pito got on (no sweat) and buckled himself in. The ride called The Himalaya rides in a small circle mimicking (I guess) the hills and valleys of a mountain range. Pito placed the hoodie over his head after a few spins (I guess because his head was getting cold) and I kept yelling out his name as he spun past me.
I was reminded of all those rides in my past where my parents were within earshot, watching me spin round and round…It made me feel loved and safe and happy to see their excited, smiling faces even if they were pretending, even if it were short-lived (as rides often are). When it was done, Pito had a little snafu with the buckle cord, but he managed to get himself out of it. Out of tickets, I decided to go back to the water-gun booth, now empty, to play against Pito to win him a prize. He ended up with a stuffed brown & white puppy. Again, hysterical.
That’s when it happened: I lost my phone. I freaked out because a) I had just had the phone to take pictures of Pito on The Himalayas & b) my life is in that phone. Every thought, idea, memory exists on my phone. Worse yet, I don’t have any safety feature on my phone to prevent someone from accessing my personal life. So…I panicked. But with Pito with me, I couldn’t achieve that wide-eyed crazy lady look I’d normally wear. I opted instead for the “keep your head” attitude as I asked him to look on the ground while I asked other booth attendants if there was a Lost & Found. I discovered there was none in this street carnival, BUT because I didn’t give up easily and kept my cool, I found my phone. Some kind soul handed it to a ticket booth operator only steps from where I stood. That. Was. Awesome. I LOVE this city…
But I also love Pito. He remained calm and as a reward, I bought him some fresh-spun cotton candy, which Pito shared with me (I told you, I LOVE THAT KID). We found a space to sit while we ate & took ridiculous pictures above. The ones of me are courtesy of Pito (he always takes excellent pictures). Our day at an end, Pito calmly said, “You wanna go over my house?”
“Sure, Pito. Let’s go.”
His and my hands, sticky from the melted sugar, made me wish for handy-wipes. If I were my mother, I’d have them with me. We opted to grab a napkin from an icee truck, but it didn’t do much good.On our walk home, I kept teasing Pito that he won a chicken.
“That’s not a chicken… it’s a doggie…” “But how do you know?”
He started to make up words then because he really couldn’t define or compare the differences. I knew he was having a hard time so I helped him out. “Does a chicken have a tail?!”
“Nooooo…” answered Pito.
“Do doggies have tails?!”
“Yeah. Like that.” He pointed to two dogs in the street. Then we made the sounds that chickens make & barked like dogs…& growled like lions all the way home.

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About Lisa Perez

Lisa M. Perez is a published poet, editor, copywriter, public speaker and artist. The co-creator of the first ever ArtSpace in Jersey City, member of IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists), and administrator for an online Mail Art group, Lisa supports the arts and advocates for creativity. Her successful, Art Journal and "Notes from my Brain" series are ongoing projects that evolve with the artist. In addition to being an active blogger since 2005, Lisa scripts and edits copy for various online articles and videos. In September 2017, she was a guest-speaker and virtually chaired a YOGA Recovery meeting. In her spare time, Lisa studies, reads, and creates while maintaining a day job in a STEM field and being a full-time fur-mommy to her shih-tzu, Cher.
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