Democratic, Republican, pearls, and the great Minnesota get together.
The Minnesota State Fair, “The great Minnesota get together”
Studio music by Brian Thavis
5th grade was safe. We spent our days in the same classroom with the same kids sitting at the same desks. We ate lunch as fast as we could then sat still and held our breath until we were dismissed for recess. When Minnesota spring began peaking through the melting snow, rumor began to spread that next year, in middle school, there would be no recess. I had never heard of something so outlandish in my 10 years on this earth. But who was there to turn to? The student council was under the iron fist of Mr. Feeber. My teacher was a just a long term substitute. She had no pull. And I didn’t even know where the middle school was. An injustice was coming. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.
6th grade began as terrifying as I ever imagined. I was dumped by Erica Kubitscheck, a love interest I had spoken to 3 times during our romantic affair. Well 10 times if Instant Messenger counts. 11, including the postcard from DC. Twelve if we consider the time I mouthed, “hey” from the across the dance floor, then retreated to the locker room that reeked of Axe body spray and nervous farts. One of which, I was responsible.
Without the emotional support of my better half, 6th grade was taxing. We had 6 different teachers. Each who demanded an array of folders, notebooks, and textbooks. Not to mention the auxiliary calculators, colored pencils, sticky notes, highlighters, protractors, compasses. All stored safely within our combination lockers. 3 spins right, 2 spins left 1 spin right.
I’d spend the first half of each class calming down from the stress of my previous locker visit. And the second half of class worried about the next transition period. If 7th graders were passing through our hall, I may as well have set my books down, pressed my overheated forehead against the cool locker aluminum, and accepted the tardy mark I was due to receive.
By the end of Q1 I realized that with proper planning, I could carry my materials with me, limiting my locker visits to 2/day. So I stuffed my binder under my right arm pit, gripped my Social studies and science textbook with my right hand, and with my left arm, pinned the oversized math and English texts against my chest. When needed, I’d dangle the protractor and compass from my pointer finger.
These were new tools and I felt wise using them. We were studying basic geometry and trigonometry. The angles of triangles equal 180 degrees. Quadrangles, 360. Etc. New concepts came into existence like rhombus, arc, isosceles, and the parallelogram. On the long chalkboard at the front of Mr. Moore’s classroom he drew two parallel sides, then gave the sides a top and bottom, also parallel, completing the parallelogram. But Mr. Moore kept drawing. Extending the sides with a dotted line, up and down… The top and bottom extended as well, left and right. Opposite sides, he said, would go on forever and never intersect. I imagined the lines continuing through my known universe, Forrest Lake, Maplewood, White Bear. They would never touch. Remaining 8 inches apart through Shore view, Richfield, and Stillwater. Even if they left the eastern suburbs and beamed all the way to Minneapolis, they would never meet.
5th grade was safe. 6th was infinite
CHALK BOARD DOT DOT SOUNDS
Rural and suburban Minnesota were the extent of my world. Going into the Twin Cities was a rare occasion. But like every Minnesota family, I went at least once a year, for the state fair. Last week, I returned to the Great Minnesota Get together, and spoke with some people.
I didn’t speak with the guy sporting the Obama button that read, “Do you miss me yet”
Or listen to the people at the ‘Make MN great again’ booth
I tried to interview a Democratic candidate. But she wouldn’t speak with me on tape.
But it’s OK, I’d prefer The Minnesota State fair remain “the great MN get together” I knew in my childhood.
A wise man once told me that kids are really just miniature adults. Pre-loaded with the same fears and anxieties of their larger counterparts. But if kids are just miniature adults, adults are just large kids. Some, still unable to get past the dotted lines on Mr. Moore’s parallelogram. Never meeting. Going on forever to Eden Prairie, Edina, Shokapee, Eagan, Burnsville, Osseo, Plymouth, Wayzetta, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Chanhassen, Lakeville, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Wilmar, New London… FADE OUT
But I’m not ending another show like this. I have a solution. If you just turn the combination two clicks counterclockwise and yank up hard enough, the locker will pop right open. That way next time your sitting in Mr. Moore’s class, you’ll be relaxed and able to see see that those dotted lines are only hypothetical, a simple distraction from the symmetrical beauty that lies within.