The Haystack Booth
Copyright © 2008 D. Eric Williams
Every summer our church has a haystack booth at the county fair - which means we sell crumbled corn chips topped with meat sauce and other concoctions. Anyway, the haystack booth is a highlight of the church calendar.
It Ain't Chinese Food!
My wife was in charge this year and when it came time to secure volunteers to work in the booth there were so many folks who really wanted to help out that she had to turn people away. For instance, Filbert Turmoil and his wife Regina were eager to assist.
"Really love to help but my hemorrhoids are giving me fits just now" said Filbert. "And Regina's brother - he's scheduled for a boat load of tests to pinpoint those prostate problems that same week, so..."
"Don't worry about it - I'm sure we'll have plenty of volunteers" my wife said as she watched the faithful file past the sign up sheet with nary a glance.
"Haven't you heard of ‘Preparation H'?" I asked Filbert.
"I said, haven't you ever - - umph!" Hon shot an elbow to my ribs.
"Doctor said not to do that" said Filbert as he glanced over the room. "Besides, this ain't the place to discuss that kind of thing" he snorted as he stepped toward the door.
In the end it seemed my family and I were the only people in the church without prostate problems or hemorrhoids.
"It'll be great" Hon said as we drove home. "A wonderful family bonding experience, right Dad?" she said, daring me to disagree.
"Sure thing! I can hardly wait!" I replied while wearing my best Howdy Doody face. "Even better than hemorrhoids."
"What's hemorrhoids Daddy?"
"Well they're - - umph! - - ow! - - jeez Hon! Oh, never mind."
Now, it's not as if the haystack booth requires just a few days of work during the fair. Rather, there are seemingly endless hours of preparation; cooking the meat mixture, chopping lettuce and tomatoes, concocting ranch dressing and salsa - the list is endless. By the time the fair arrived we were sick of haystacks. Yet, we pressed on and once we began to retail our creations it seemed that things were looking up. At least until the rain came.
It was a mere sprinkle at first and the roof of the haystack booth leaked hardly at all. However, when the rain started falling in earnest it was as if someone had opened a thousand spigots over our heads.
"Woo hoo" I yelled. "This frigid water running down my neck is actually quite refreshing - - Archie - get that (deleted), haystack out of the water - Mr. Dwightson ordered a dry Mexican-American confection."
"This is a church sponsored booth" hissed Hon as she elbowed me in the ribs.
"Of course" I replied as I wrung out my sleeves and handed Mr. Dwightson his sodden haystack. "What was I thinking. I should have called it a Central American Spicy Dish."
As the tempo of the rain increased the customers stopped coming and the true character of the booth was fully revealed. Before long we were standing in three inches of water with a continual downpour on our heads.
"Dad, can we go home" whined a tyke.
"Are you kidding?! This is the highlight of the church year!" I paused to spew water from my mouth. "We're not going to let an exaggerated dew point get us down! We're seeing this through to the end, understand?!"
"Daddy, why are those people running?" said a younger child.
I peered through the blinding sheet of rain. "I don't know baby, but I think I heard someone pronounce a curse on their goat. Maybe there's been a disturbance in the livestock barn."
"Uh, Dad" rejoined an older child. "He actually said ‘the dam broke.' Maybe we should - - "
He stopped in mid sentence and I followed his gaze to a point behind me. A short but menacing wall of water was heading our way.
"Hang on!" I screamed as I snatched up the littlest and grabbed Hon by the hand. "She's going down!"
The water slammed into the booth and shoved it against the Chinese catering truck next door. Haystacks flew, chop sticks fell and an egg roll landed on the counter in front of me. The water surged by and all was calm.
"Everybody okay?" I called. I received an affirmative. "Alright, let's go home."
"But Dad, what about seeing this through?"
"Not anymore - it's a sign from heaven."
"No" I said as I checked to see if the egg roll was still warm. "Something to eat besides haystacks."