San Diego Fair: Yep, we can fry that

Here’s what you learn at the San Diego County Fair: You can fry anything.

I’m not talking about the normal stuff, like hotdogs and chicken and whathaveyou. I’m not even talking about the “Did you hear that they are now frying…” stuff, like Twinkies and sticks of butter. (Sticks of butter!)

No, no that stuff. I’m talking about a place called Chicken Charlies, where they’ll fry you up some cereal. They’ll fry you Kool-Aid. Nobody who sees an advertisement for fried Kool-Aid pauses to wonder if Kool-Aid taste good fried, because we’re all wondering how in the name of all that is holy do you fry Kool-Aid in the first place?

For me, that’s pretty much the whole reason to go to the fair. (Also, you eat a stick of fried butter and you can pretty much feel good about anything else you eat for the rest of the week.)

Liz grew up going to the fair with her mom. When you’re a kid, you don’t think about how intentional those kinds of things are that your parents do for you. All you know is that when June rolls around you know you’re going to the fair. And soon your hands are sticky with cotton candy and you’re jacked up on some kind of sugar juice and somebody dares you to go on some ride that looks and acts like an angry Transformer and within seconds of being lurched into the air, upside down, you’re hoping you can hold on to your sick long enough to get off the ride and get to a trash can and then after you sit with your head in your hands while the sun bakes the back of your neck until a few more sips of sugar juice gets you feeling better and you go on a final ride on the Ferris wheel as it begins to get dark and you pass out, stuffed and sunburned and glad that you don’t have to go back for a year.

But the memories that last the full year are sanitized with the distance of just a single day. Those are the days that create for us what we call a happy childhood or at least the happy moments of childhood. Those are traditions, and parents create them intentionally because they know that when we look back at our childhood we need to follow a trail of those moments to remember who we were and what was important to us.

My wife understands this better than anyone. She makes sure the family walks to get bagels every Saturday morning. We have Taco Fridays. It’s a way of stabilizing our lives. We have things to look forward to every few days.

So it’s not just a kid thing. My wife does that for Finn and Lucy and she does it for me. She does it for her too.

It’s especially important considering how much we’ve moved in the last few years. Finn is only three and a half but we’ve lived in five different places. Lucy’s on her third home in a fifteen months. Yet they’re both oddly well adjusted. A lot of that I can chalk up to kids, but I bet a lot of it is that they know that wherever they are, on Saturday morning, they’ll have bagels. I’m not sure there’s any better gift we’re giving them.

By | 2018-01-19T21:03:07+00:00 July 14th, 2012|6 Comments


  1. Les in NE July 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    My husband tried a fried Twinkie at a ballgame a few years ago. Needless to say, that was the first and last he ever had.

    I’m assuming the San Diego Country Fair is what was once known as the Del Mar Fair. I lived in DM for 20 years (’72 to ’92) and have great memories of summer evenings riding the ferris wheel (looking out over the river mouth at Dog Beach), eating fried corn dogs and sneaking into the beer gardens to listen to Montazuma’s Revenge. Thanks for stirring up some great memories!

    And, thank you for an amazing book. I recently listened to the audio of Little Princes and there is no doubt that it will be on my Top Ten for 2012. Loved it, Conor Brother!

    • Conor July 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Yep, same fair! We loved that Ferris Wheel, and the view is awesome. Seems like they got a million and a half visitors this year – crazy!

  2. Marcy Prager July 15, 2012 at 4:24 am - Reply

    You are so right, Conor! Adults remember the weekly and yearly routines that were warm and fuzzy family memories. Parents do need to build those memories for their children. My daughter just got engaged, and when her fiancee and the family sit down for dinner, we always rehash those family routines for him with fond memories, laughter and love.

  3. Jennifer Findlay January 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Fried Kool-Aid?!?! What the…

    I’m going to borrow your wife’s brilliant idea of little family rituals. I’ve got two teenagers, who are inching into adulthood before my eyes. We have our own rituals, but I love the idea of something consistent every Saturday morning, like bagels. A lovely idea.

  4. Katie Cook March 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Conor! My husband and I are moving to Nepal in April to work at an aftercare home for girls rescued out of sex trafficking. My best friend read your book and sent it to me as soon as she found out. I just started it, and cannot put it down. Today after work I sat in my car turning page after page, seriously so thankful for your genuine resolve to be used in the lives of those children and your deep humility laced throughout the pages. I’m not sure where in LA you are at, but my husband’s family owns a bunch of bagel cafes in Orange County and if you and your family ever want to continue your saturday morning bagel tradition in orange county, we’d love to treat you!

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