Shenanigans with Val: Racist Parking Lots, Closed Sidewalks & Ren Fest

This past weekend, I had a visitor.  My good blogging buddy Valerie drove all the way from New Jersey down to MD to hang with me on Saturday.  Her last visit, this past spring, was full of crazy shenanigans, good times and beer.  This visit would be no different in that regard, just a different venue.

I decided to take her to our local Renaissance Festival, as she is a huge fan of such events.  The last time I went to the Ren Fest was 2 years ago with Thoughtsy, and that turned out quite well for blogging purposes, so I figured it would be a good time for all and give us some fodder for our blogs.  Win/win.

In order to spend the entire day with her around the area where the Ren Fest was held, I needed to get a hotel room near there, as it is not especially close to my home.  So, I arrived first at our hotel with Val quickly following.  After some intense hugging (there may have been some humping), we decided to scoot over to the Ren Fest as the skies were starting to get a bit threatening and they were calling for rain later that day.  As the entirety of the Ren Fest is outdoors in the woods, we figured we should get moving before we got rained upon.

So, we hopped in the car and started driving.  Not being entirely familiar with the area, I allowed GPS to lead us to our destination.  And along the road to the Ren Fest, we encountered many locales that would need to be fucked with later on.  But stay tuned for that. 

Arriving at the Ren Fest, we noticed that many people were starting to leave.  Might have been because it had started spitting water from the sky.  But just a bit.  We could definitely work with this.  And it only lasted for a very short time, as by the time we got in, it had stopped. 

The first thing we wanted to do was to rent a costume for Val.  When I told Val we were going to the Ren Fest, she informed me that she looked online and saw they rented costumes.  I informed her that I had no problem with her renting a costume, but that I wasn’t the costume wearing sort.  However, I assured her that I would take pictures and laugh.  Having struck an accord, we headed to the first costume shop we saw . . . and found out that they were completely sold out.  Val was bummed, but not deterred from her goal.  We then stopped into another shop that sold costumes.  However, the going price was around $400, so that was out.  What to do, what to do.  And that is when we happened upon the stand selling jingley gypsy hip scarves.  Those were only $15 to buy, so that seemed like a deal.  In fact, it was such a deal, that I even decided to join in on the fun.  Here we are, modelling our hip scarves:

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Now that we were properly attired for the Ren Fest, we moved on to our second mandatory goal . . . beer.  Once we both had a beverage in our hands, we explored the sites of the Ren Fest.  And let me tell you, there were some sights to behold!  There was so much crazy, wacky stuff to see, that at one point we were basically just turning in circles and pointing.  It was dizzying, and not just because we were spinning around.  However, there is a time and place for such things, and that time and place is Friday for the Whacked.  Stay tuned . . .

Once we consumed our first beer, obviously we had to get a second.  I mean, it wouldn’t be right to only have one.  They get all spoiled and don’t learn to share.  The problem with this second beverage was that it was joining its sibling in otherwise empty stomachs.  That’s right, we are brilliant and had not eaten that day, and it was approaching 4:00 in the afternoon.  So, two people who can otherwise normally hold their liquor, were quite buzzed off of a beer and a half each.  Luckily, the Ren Fest thinks of everything!  Because that is when we came upon a vendor selling “beer sponges.”  How can any sane and almost drunk person pass up that kind of advertising!  Not us, I say.

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No, we did not sample his pickle.

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Mmmmm, spongey!

Even though the beer sponges did their job, it was sadly too late for Val.  The constabulary intervened and she was found guilty of being a drunkard.  I’m sure nobody ever saw that coming!

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And then we came upon the most rarest of species to be found at the Ren Fest, and Val just had to get her picture taken with them.  The Preppius Boatshoesicus.  It was a thrilling find.

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After that, we passed another booth and Val got an idea.  A marvelous idea.  A marvelously diabolical idea!  Ok, not really, but once she saw this, all bets were off.  She was getting Fraggled.

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And then this happened . . .

Mid-Fraggle

Mid-Fraggle

Almost Fraggled

Almost Fraggled

Side fraggle view

Side fraggle view

The Finished Fraggle

The Finished Fraggle

As we exited the covered hair braiding booth, we realized that it had started raining again.  For real.  However, we were not to be deterred.  And why is that?  Well, because along with her Fraggle, Val had decided that she needed some horns.  So we were off to the closest horn seller we could find.  However, after trying a few horned samples, it became apparent that the horns just did not look right with the Fraggle.  She even tried some ears (that also perched atop her head), but had the same problem.  Starting to get discouraged, we were about to leave when I happened to glance up and saw . . . unicorn horns!  Pointing them out to her, we both decided that this would be perfect.

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Is she not the happiest & most adorable thing EVER?

And then this happened . . .

A uni-fraggle gypsy in her natural habitat.

A uni-fraggle gypsy in her natural habitat.

Unfortunately, that is also when something else happened. . . the sky, which had been threatening and drizzling and raining all afternoon, finally decided to just let us have it.  It started pouring.  POURING.  And there we were, mid-Ren Fest, and a far distance from the parking lot and my car.  Realizing that our frolicking was at an end, we headed for the exit . . . and got wetter and wetter and wetter.  By the time we made it all the way to the car, we were both completely drenched.  As in, wet all the way through to our undergarments.  Which let me tell you, felt really lovely.  It looked like we had both stepped out of the shower, fully clothed.  Good times.

As we headed back to the hotel to dry off and change, the rain and soaking would not stop us from further shenanigans!  As I stated previously, we had noticed a few things as we were heading out to the Ren Fest.  And the first was a very odd statue right by the road.  So, on the way back, I pulled right over so Val could get out . . . and go lick it.

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Molesting statues since 2000.

And the next thing we came upon on this very same road was a very disturbing parking lot.  When we first drove by, we were appalled that this kind of thing can still exist in this day and age.  It’s not like we were in the deep south or anything!  It was a racist parking lot.  Every single car on that lot was white!  And being decent people, we just could not stand to allow that to continue unchecked.  So I pulled into the lot and parked myself right amongst all those prejudiced vehicles.  That’ll show them!

Fuck you, car bigotry!

Fuck you, car bigotry!

Travelling farther along this very same road, we encountered another instance of oppression.  Again, we would not let this stand.  So, we went right ahead and stood right there.  On the sidewalk.  Closed, my ass!

Now who's closed, bitches?

Now who’s closed, bitches?

After all of that, we returned to the hotel to rest up a bit after a very long and active (and wet) day.  We intended to go out for crabs a bit later, but first we wanted to dry off.  Unfortunately, Val’s Fraggle did not last the onslaught of water pouring down upon her head.  Poor sad Fraggle.

De-Fraggled.

De-Fragglefied.

And I didn’t fair much better.  This is me, looking like a drowned rat and completely soaked through to the skin.

You didn't REALLY think I was going to show you my face, did you?

You didn’t REALLY think I was going to show you my face, did you?

Once we changed and attempted (though fruitlessly) to do something with our mess of hair, we went out to get some steamed crabs, which is pretty much a necessity in this area.  We had planned to go out to a bar after dinner and were trying to return to the hotel so we could grab a cab (since we planned to continue our boozing ways, but are responsible bitches), but my car apparently had other plans for us.  See, apparently my car is evil (or a hex was placed on it in that racist parking lot), and kept trying to kill us.  The rain was coming down pretty hard at that point, it was dark, and I had no idea where we were.  We depended on my car’s GPS, but that only got us trying to turn down a one way road, entering a road that said Wrong Way, and the best one, having us turn into a shopping center that ended in a dark alley behind a DSW, filled with dumpsters.  That’s right, apparently my car was setting us up to be murdered by a serial killer.  So, after all of this heart pounding drama, once we returned to the hotel, we really didn’t feel like going back out in the rain.  We just needed a drink!  So, a drink (or 5) is what we had.

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Val’s birthday present . . . which she kindly shared.

The best part of the entire day was pretty much in that room.  I love just talking to Val, as she is hysterical and interesting, and catching up with her is always a good time.  Well, that and the snuggling.  She is the best big spoon ever!!

And thus ends this edition of Val & Misty’s Excellent Adventures.  Until we meet agian.  Huzzah!!

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The Quest to Fall Out

The first time I dialed, I received a busy signal.  That was normal.  I was not deterred.  The second call was met with ringing.  Wait.  But it never rings.  That’s odd.  After three tones I heard a voice . . . “HFS.”  A bit too shocked to comprehend the meaning of those three little letters, I responded as if I had never used a phone before.  “Hello?”

“Hi!” was the response I received.  Starting to realize what this meant, I started talking.  I have no memory of what I said next, but it was apparently enough to convey that I did indeed know why I was calling, I was a cognizant and vocally able individual, and yes please, I would love the prize.

Concert tickets.  Along with a meet and greet before the show.  And even a possibility (although this was not firm yet) of a private show prior to the concert.

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Holy cow!  This was awesome.  Best day ever!  My luck is turning around.  Things are looking up!

But then it got a lot less awesome.  Obviously, not being forward thinking enough to listen to any details before my hot little fingers furiously dialed in to the radio station, I had to ask the DJ when and where the show was.  Tuesday night.  In Virginia.  “And the meet and greet is early, so you should probably take the day off. ”

Hold on now, what’s this you say?  I just wanted to go to a concert, not have to invest an entire day into this whole endeavor.  But, at that moment, all of those were just details.  Because I won.  I won.  That just doesn’t happen.  So, this was a good day.

I arrived home to share the news with my husband.  He was happy for me, but luke warm about the entire prospect.  He would not be able to escort me, since he already had plans to be out of town.  Although, if I had won Kenny Chesney tickets, I bet those plans would have changed.  But regardless, I was now in a position of needing to find a date.  So, I started texting friends.  And began to get many rejections.  For many different reasons.  Childcare issues, Back to School night, Surprise Going Away Party, work meetings, unchangeable doctor’s appointments, etc.  Apparently, this was a very busy Tuesday night for all of my friends and family.  (Either that or they were all coming up with very different and creative ways to blow me off).

It was getting very frustrating.  And I was starting to get worried, and feared that it was hopeless.  I began thinking that I would either have to go by myself, which was not a concept I embraced, or not go at all.  It seemed as if my luck had not turned around at all.  And this would be the second time that I wouldn’t see the band perform whilst having tickets.

Two weeks prior, they played at the State Fair.  I had bought tickets, good seats as well.  But when the night arrived, there was just no possible way that we were going to be able to go.  It was impossible.   And here I was again, in possession of presumably good seats to see this very same band, and needing to forego them because I could not find anyone who wanted to go.

Then I received an email from the DJ with details for the day.  Arrive by 2:45 to meet the band.  Get your tickets there.  Oh, and by the way, they will play a private show just for the winners before the concert.

Damn, this was a game changer.  I had to go to this thing.  Even alone if necessary.  Because while the meet and greet was no big deal, since I’m not a squeeing teenaged fangirl of the band members, I did love their music.  Seeing a private and intimate performance from the band would be a once in a lifetime experience.  Not to be missed.

But 2:45 was early.  So very early in the day.  I would basically have to take a half day to ensure I arrived at that time.  DC traffic is notoriously awful at all times of the day.  All I would need was one backup and I’d be done.

But I had to do it.  There was no other option.  Now, I just needed to find someone to go with me!  Getting desperate, I posted on both of my facebook accounts (private and blog), offering anyone who could do it the chance to go with me and see the band.  I will neither confirm nor deny the fact that I also offered up the opportunity to molest the lead singer.  Nevertheless, I had zero takers, unless you count my former au pair who now lives in Venezuela and another friend who lives in Oregon.  So, basically nobody.

And then I finally got a bite.  I had texted my niece to see if she could make it, and she was very wishy washy about the whole thing.  Then, I let her know about the private show, and she was onboard.  She would make it happen.  She just had to pawn off her nephews to her parents for babysitting and get a substitute teacher for her class.  No sweat!

The day of the show, I somehow arrived at the venue very quickly, although already a bit sweaty because it was 95* outside and the A/C in my car is broken.  Nevertheless, I was there on time, met my niece there, and rendezvoused with the other winners and DJ.  We were all very excited and ready!  So, after some ridiculousness involving trekking all the way around the stadium (did I mention it was really hot?) to go down to the band entrance and go into a very nicely air conditioned lobby, only to be unceremoniously kicked back out into the sweltering heat because security had to show us their big balls, we eventually were escorted inside and into a room.  Within thirty seconds, the band came walking right in.  I had never seen them in person before, and my first impression of them was that they were very wee.  Like teeny tiny boys.  I wanted to just grab all of them and stick them in my pockets.  They were precious and adorable.

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Fall Out Boys

As they entered the room, one of the guys joked with us that we looked like we were lined up for a firing squad (we had all been told to sit on all these window seat benches against the wall, and we were good little lemmings, so we did).  Then, he went on to say that the lead singer wasn’t going to speak because he had voice issues and was saving his voice for the concert, so if he wasn’t singing on stage, he was mandated not to make a peep.  Now, you might have some clue as to what this portends, but at that moment, nothing registered in my noggin that foretold trouble and disappointment.  But we’ll get there.

The band was awesome.  Very laid back and personable.  Accessable and gracious.  Fun and funny.  I met them, got my picture taken with them (after which I thanked them, to which they responded with a very genuine, “no, thank you.”), and got them to autograph my CD case.  There were about twenty of us, and they took pictures and signed things for all of us.  It was very nice.  And very quick.

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Before we knew it, we were being asked to leave the room and were sent back out into the heat.  Wondering what the itinerary was for the rest of the day, I asked the DJ.  He very deftly avoided my question and moved away.  Hmmm, that’s odd.  But I did not have long to wait for the answer to my question.  He got everyone’s attention and announced that since the lead singer was saving his voice for the stage, that meant that they had to cancel the private concert.

I was crushed.  What a disappointment.  We were all a little shell shocked at that point.  I mean, we met the band and that was cool, and we still had the concert to attend much later in the night, but . . . The private concert was a once in a lifetime event.  And we were so looking forward to it.  But, it was not to be.

But, we had to rally.  So, my niece and I hooked up with another pair of winners, drove to a local sushi restaurant, had some food and drinks and chatted away the time, and then returned to see the show.  The original plan was to leave soon after the band went on, thinking that we lived very far away, we both had to work the next day, and anyway, we were going to get to see them play their songs before the concert just for us, so who needed the concert for the masses?  Yeah, well we ended up staying until right before the first encore. I hated to leave, because the concert was incredible, but we had to start our long trek home, as we had been there for almost eight hours.  As for the lead singer’s voice, you could tell he was strained on some of the higher registers, but you could only tell if you knew he had an issue.  Otherwise, it was fabulous.

I was finally able to see the band in concert, so that’s a relief.  But the addendum to this story is that laryngitis and I are officially fighting, and the band owes us a private show.  I’m holding them to that.  Whether they know of this or not.

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Beach ball-apalooza

A Comedy of Tragedies

As I have fully elucidated previously, I am going through a bit of a rough time.  I’m a strong bitch, though, so I’m weathering it.  It hasn’t broken me quite yet, so here I am, blogging away for your amusement.  You lucky peeps.

However, when it rains it pours, and apparently my life is caught in a monsoon right now.  And while the additional water damage has resulted mostly from quick and inconsequential showers, it nevertheless is an annoyance and calls for an umbrella. 

For example, while my kids were away for a week with their grandparents a few weeks ago, I decided that would give me a perfect opportunity to do some cleaning and organizing that had been waiting for my attention for way too long.  So, I set my focus upon the cabinet under the sink in my bathroom.  When I first moved into my house around six years ago, this under the sink cabinet was organized with baskets and the well thought out placement of toiletry necessities.  Since then, it has become a hodge podge of precariously towering items that have landed there after my careless tossing of said item into the cabinets, and then swiftly closing the doors so as not to witness the toppling of said piles of junk.  So, basically what I am saying is that this area has not had a good cleaning and/or organizing in many years and it was way overdue. 

As I began to pull out the massive amounts of accumulated stuff from the cabinet, I finally unearthed the original baskets that were buried under all of this product.  It was when I had finally removed the baskets and everything else from under the sink that I realized I had a big problem.  This:

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I realized that I had apparently had a leak at some point in the past however many years, and because there was so much junk, I never realized it.  And during all those sweet days of ignorance, the water had been creating little mildew babies who had grown into huge adult sized spores of unhealthy disgustingness.  So, I immediately sent my hubs to the store for massive bleach type cleaning products and some paint, thinking I could scrub it down and then hopefully paint over it.  But alas, that was not to be.  It was relatively thin plywood, and it was soaked in.  There would be no scrubbing it off.  Additionally, the damage was on the back wall as well, so there was nothing much to be done.  We were going to need to call our home improvement guy (yes, we have a guy), to come over and see if he could replace the plywood.

And, I imagine that you can guess what the answer to that was, based on my current record of receiving good news.  Yeah, the answer was no.  They were going to have to replace the entire thing.  Which was going to cost beaucoup cash.  Cash which we did not have.  So, I got used to having all of the stuff under my cabinet in the middle of the floor in my bedroom.  But it was a pain in the ass.  Finally, after many weeks of this, I told my husband that he needed to call the guy, because it was getting on my damn nerves and just needed to be fixed.  We’d figure out a way to pay.  So, the next day, I came home to this:

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Hmmm, I feel like something’s missing here . . .

Yes, they took the WHOLE SINK.  I was not prepared for that.  So, now I am not only without a cabinet to use, but I have no sink.  And I’m told it was sent to “la la land” (quoth the hubs), to get it custom redesigned to fit in the space.  Who knew a sink was so much trouble?  Well, now you do.

And, along with this wonderful annoyance, there came another very itchy one . . . this:

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My hand and wrist broke out in some sort of mystery rash.  It only went from my thumb down to where my watch was when whatever I touched came into contact with my hand.  I have no idea what I am allergic to that caused this, as my well known allergen of pine (Christmas tree decorating is a joy!), was nowhere to be seen on these summer days.  I wasn’t too concerned until about 2 days later when it started itching like crazy and then a few days after that, it looks like this:

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Yep, over a week and there are still angry little red dots.  At this point it has stopped itching, but I’m fearful it will scar.  I look like I have leprosy.  Fun times.

Oh, but I’m not done yet.  The most annoying event to occur was this past Monday.  Apparently, when I went to bed on Sunday night, I didn’t feel the need to change the time on my alarm to a work appropriate wake up time.  Nope, it was still set to weekend time.  That would be 7:45, by the way.  So, on Monday morning, instead of the alarm waking me at the ungodly hour of 5:00 (and then smacking the bejesus out of that sucker about 12 times before I got up), to give me enough time to get ready for work and then drive the hour it takes to get there . . . yeah, you see where this is going.

So, here’s a little math problem for you.  Solve for X:  If attorney has to be in court by 9:00, has an hour-long drive from point A (home) to point B (work), and awakens from an apparently very restful sleep at 7:45 . . . X = which normal preparatory activities did attorney not have time to do before leaving her house.

Here’s a visual clue:

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I assure you, I AM making a duckface.

Now, for you male readers out there that are like, “what?  I don’t get it.  What’s the big deal?”  Lemme ‘splain . . . that is my hair pulled back in a quick and messy ponytail bun.  Which I wore . . . to court.  I do not wear ponytail buns to court.  It is not pretty, nor is it professional.  In fact, I don’t wear my hair back at all, like this or any other way, to work ever.  Once again, I find it unprofessional.  For someone else, they might think it’s no big deal, but I do not feel that way.  To give you a point of reference, every single person that I saw today asked me if I was ok or if there was something wrong.  So, this is very out of the norm for me.  It was not one of my better days.

I’m thinking . . . things can only go up from here, right?  Right?  HELLO??  (Knocks furiously on any wood surface available!).

Play Fair

On Labor Day, we took the kids to the Maryland State Fair.  It is fair season again, so this was actually the second fair that we attended this year.  The first was our local county fair, and of no real consequence.  Our third and final of the fair trifecta will be in two weeks.  That is our favorite, so stay tuned for a report on that one.

But, this past holiday we visited the middle child in our fair going family, the state fair.  We started the day early, attempting to beat some of the sweltering and oppressive heat that we had been enjoying for quite some time now.  Sadly, we were not early enough, because the blanket of oven-like temps attacked us within minutes of our entrance into the fairgrounds.  However, we rallied and put the kids on some rides, while we tried desperately to stand in any type of shade available, to avoid spontaneous combustion.  After a few spinning, bouncing, twisting, and flying contraptions entertained my kids, we decided to momentarily escape from the heat.  So we visited the cow palace.

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Tipping prevention technique.

This extremely large building was not air conditioned, but this shelter from the sun dropped the temp a good ten degrees.  What we traded in heat, however, we made up for in aroma, as this was where they housed all things bovine.  We happened upon an area where a cow was being held in a pen, and there were bleachers set up all around.  Curious as to what we would be watching, we grabbed a seat and tried to see what there was to see.

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Ready to pop.

We soon realized that we were on the verge of experiencing the miracle of life . . . live and in high def.  Not sure that our young boys were quite ready to see that (and not sure that we really wanted to experience it, either), we moved along, and instead opted to participate in a different activity involving a cow . . . milking.

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Once we had our fill of milk cow related activities, we reluctantly went back into the sweltering blast furnace outside of the building.  Yeah, that was fun.  However, as we exited the building, I passed a mecca of wonderment and invention . . . the fried foods booth.

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If you’ve been around a while, you know that it is my goal in life to try a different fried concoction at every fair that I attend.  There have been oreos, twinkies, strawberries, pickles, cheesecake, kool aid and reese’s.  All of it battered and deep fried.  Most topped with powdered sugar.  (Not the pickles, because that would be very very wrong).  So, I perused the numerous offerings of this fried food heaven to see what this year’s lucky item would be.  And although there were many many MANY items to choose from, none of them really screamed out me, me, me, pick me!!  I thought about the fried Pop Tart (in honor of my friend Thoughtsy), but they had a sample of it sitting in the window and it was basically just an entire Pop Tart covered in batter.  It did not look appealing.  I wasn’t up for an entire candy bar (did I mention it was scorching hot?  Yeah, so that meant that I pretty much had no appetite), and the fried grilled cheese or peanut butter & jelly looked pretty gross.  I might have been up for whatever a buckeye was (it helpfully said it was chocolate covered peanut butter), but apparently they were very popular because they were all sold out.  What to do, what to do . . . it was a conundrum.

So, what did I do?  Actually, I walked away.  I know!  I’m not sure what was wrong with me either.  I’m gonna blame it on my brain being boiled by the 128* sun.  Obviously, what I needed was a lemonade to cool me down!  So, I went over to a nearby stand selling freshly made, ice cold lemonade, and as I was standing in line . . . the heavens opened, the angels sang, and I saw this sign:

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This!  This is what I had been waiting for.  It was the perfect treat, as Berger’s cookies are unbelievably delicious, and also the perfect amount, because I only needed to eat one to experience it, and could share the rest.  That way, I didn’t need to feel like a total glutton by devouring the entire thing all by myself!  (Although, I will admit that I totally could have hoovered all three of those bad boys . . . they were smack your momma on the ass GOOD).

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And speaking of Baltimore’s Own, the boy who served us these treats noticed my son’s Ravens hat, and mentioned dejectedly that the next stop for their little rolling cart of fried deliciousness was in Pittsburgh for the Steelers.  I told him that he better not take our Berger’s cookies up there to our rivals!  He said he thinks that they are only offering them locally, so at least there’s that.  He also said that he’s gonna represent Maryland pride by wearing all of his Ravens gear while he’s up there.  Good boy.  Go Ravens!

Next up is the last fair of the season, where I am sure to find something new and creative to wrap up this fried fair food festivus maximus.  Let’s just hope it’s not surface of the sun hot when we go there.  To be continued . . .