A merry-go-round at night: a bedtime story about a fair

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

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(We’re obviously getting close to Metcalfe Fair time because for this bedtime story, Leah was adamant that we talk about a merry-go-round.)

A very big handful of us have at some point thought about a merry-go-round. Many of us have thought about them as we spin around riding a dragon, others have thought about them from a distance, maybe seeing them in a commercial for a country fair or a large exhibition park. And still others have only had a chance to see the spinning menagerie in dreams.

But we think about a merry-go-round as a ride—something extremely exciting but void of life. We think about plastic fire-breathing dragons, plastic wire spraying elephants and plastic fast trotting horses.

But that’s not all that there is to a merry-go-round.

At night, when all the kids are back in their beds and all the parents are rubbing their bellies, full of all the cotton candy they’ve eaten, even after the fair workers themselves have gone to sleep in their moving beds, merry-go-rounds come to life.

“It’s time to play,” the bunnies, the de facto bosses of the merry-go-round tell the horses, who tell the dragons who tell the snakes who tell the elephants who tell the giraffes.

“Tonight, we should play in the bouncy castle,” the elephant suggests. The elephant always suggests the bouncy castle. He is the best bouncer of the group and nobody ever tries to dissuade him.

One by one they walk off the merry-go-round platform and trundle off towards the big blue bouncy castle. Some nights the stuffed animals from the balloon popping tent join them, other nights they do not. Tonight, only the merry-go-round gang wants to play.

“The other animals are tired tonight,” the bunnies point out. “We’re going to need to be quiet.” Being quiet was never an issue with this collection of animals who for hundreds of years had convinced fair-goers that they were nothing more than plastic seats.

As fun as it was to have the run of the fair and the fairs amusements, this was also their job. As the fair animals grew tired of an amusement, that piece magically disappeared. The toys you see, carried the spirit of the children who attended fairs and had a better idea of when a ride was no longer exciting to a child than any man or woman.

Elephant, as big and slow as he is, is first to the castle and first to enter. Watching him, the bunnies can tell there will be no retirement of an amusement tonight.

“I like it better when they have fun,” the white bunny says to the black bunny. “It’s no fun seeing rides disappear.”

Elephant jumps on his feet, on his bum and on his big ears. Seeing how much fun he is having, giraffe joins in and then the dragons and then the horses. The snakes stay outside, too worried they’ll once again get jumped on by the big animals.

“This is even more fun than it was last week!” elephant says, looking like the biggest kid that has ever played in the bouncy castle.

“You said that last week,” giraffe yells, completing a backflip.

“I hope you say it again next week too!” dragon adds as he glides above everyone else.

They jump in silence, taking turns doing flips or bouncing as high as they can. They bounce for longer than any child ever could, all the way until the sun starts to appear over the horses stables.

“Back to the merry-go-round,” the bunnies call. They don’t scold the animals yet everyone knows they need to get back to their pole as soon as they can. They leave the castle, make their way back to the front of the midway and take their places again.

The dragons, the elephants, the giraffes, the snakes, the horses and the bunnies all stand still and magically turn into merry-go-round statues again.

Then come the fair workers and the cars driven by parents. Finally come the kids, who spend all the daytime hours enjoying all the fair has to offer. Until night comes again.

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