Norma gobbled up the deep fried “ball of butter”.
It took a moment but as she chewed she began to gag.
“I told you so!” You see, Henry considered himself a bit of an expert when it comes
to food. He shook his head and laughed out loud. He laughed so loud, his glasses with the gob of white tape on the right earpiece practically fell from his ears.
“Smnut..ump.. U” was all Norma could manage. She spit out the ball. She had chosen a chocolate dipped ball covered in little sugar sprinkles.
“You should have stayed with what you know. The Tiny Tom’s mini-donuts are always a quality product Norma.” Henry was preaching- again. “You know that Norma”.
She could speak clearly now. “Shut the hell up Henry. You always have to be right. What about getting out there in the world and going for the gusto just once! You should learn from me, not make fun of me!”
Still laughing Henry replies- “You mean those disgusting little balls of butter, deep fried in litres of fat? That’s going for the gusto? No thanks Norma! C’mon, I’ll get you a bag of mini donuts.”
“No thank you Henry.”- said Norma quite tersely, “I don’t need to have a bag of donuts- at least not right now.”
“Awww. Tummy not feeling so good?”- Henry chided her.
“Henry, how be we ride the Crazy Mouse and I push you out of your seat when we get to the very top!” Norma was spitting bricks.
“Now look, Norma, we’re at the Ex to have fun, not argue and do damage to one another. I’m sorry for laughing at you. Can we please just friggin’ back up and start to have some fun?”
“Sometimes Henry you are so crass”. Norma spun on her heels and started walking away from the Deep Fried Butter concession stand.
“Look, I’ll buy you a nice lunch at the Food Building. How about a German Sausage and a nice cup of hot java or maybe a freshly-squeezed lemonade. What about a Krispy Crème Donut with a beef pattie wedged in between!” he laughed. “Now that’s fine dining!”
Norma stopped and turned to face Henry.
“Shut the hell up Henry!”
She paused briefly.
“No, you just buy me a nice lunch and I’ll find us a nice table outside- in the shade.”
“Deal”- Henry says, as they walk towards the Food Building at the west end of the Exhibition Grounds. “Norma, lets take a short cut through the Horse Palace.”
“It’s not a short cut. It’s dark and stinks of cows and poop.”
“Horses”- Henry corrects her.
“Horses, Norma. The Cows are at The Farm exhibit at the far end of the EX!.
“Horses, then. Whatever! How can a building full of cattle be considered farm fun? Remember the good old days when building like The Better Living Centre had furniture and the Kitten Sweater exhibit? Now if it isn’t poop it’s a Casino!”
“What happened to living that life with gusto?”- chortled Henry.
“Cow shit is not Gusto. It’s just shit!” Norma was getting a little pissed off at Henry- again.
“Why Norma, such crude language- from a lady. I think you’re just being nostalgic for what the Ex was years ago. It’s a different fair today Norma.”
“Yes I know- but it is such a shame that lovely exhibits have taken a back seat to hogs and bovines.”
They turned right and climbed the steps leading into the Horse Palace and the centre ring. One inside, they stood for a few moments and watched a bevy of young girls leading their miniature horses through their paces in the show ring. Norma stopped one of the gals outside the ring and said-
“Oh your ponies are so cute. Do they sleep in your bedroom with you?”
The young lady pushed her glasses up her nose a bit to get a more in focus look at the person who asked such a silly question.
“No Ma’am”- says the small blonde-haired girl with two pony tails hanging below her red straw cowboy hat, “Nellie here doesn’t sleep in my bedroom nor in the house at all. She has a nice, little apartment in the barn and Nellie is a “miniature horse”-
Not a pony!”
The girl walked on.
“Henry did you hear that brass of that little witch. I just asked a simple question and…”
Henry cuts her off- “Norma, you asked a silly freeking question. A question she probably hears 10 times a day. Why would the freekin’ horse sleep with her. I am sure she has a nice little one bedroom apartment in the barn- like she said, with a big screen TV and a nice kitchenette.”
“Oh I hope so Henry. I really hope so.”
“Norma! Wake up! That little girl was just having you on. The horse would sleep in a stall for Pete’s sake- not a private apartment!”
Norma became silent.
They walked away from the ring, Henry in the lead as they headed for the exit on their left past several rows of horse stalls. Norma wasn’t prepared to let it go! At least not yet!
“Still Henry, I think that little girl was a regular bitch to me.”
As she spoke her right food sunk right into the biggest patch of horse shit imaginable.
“Jeremy Cripes!” she yelled. “Look what happened!!”
Henry turns. “Looks like you stepped in a pile of shit, Norma.”
Henry stifled a smile.
“A big pile of shit! You, you- man you!”
Henry took her by the arm and pulled her from the pile of horse pucky.
“It’s not that bad Norma. Look it’s only to the top of your running shoe. You socks haven’t been touched.”
“My brown socks, Henry”- she asked.
“Yes”- he says wondering why she asked.
“I am not wearing any socks Henry! That’s Horse shit halfway up my leg!”
She was screaming now. Henry looked ahead of him and saw a water hose.
“Nevermind, Sweetheart. Come over here and I’ll hose you down. Just like a miniature pony!”
“That’s not funny!” Norma was serious.
“Look, you have a pair of sandals in your bag there- right?” He pointed to the Zehr’s bag handing from her left arm. “We’ll hose your runners down and they can dry in the sun while we eat.”
“ Ok. Fine.”
“Fine.”- repeated Henry.
Soon, Norma stood in the shower area, where horses- not “Normas”, where bathed before they were taken to the show ring. A few passerby’s giggled. A small boy pointed and cried out to his parents- “Mommy. Daddy. Look at the funny horsey!”
Norma would have gladly rung his little pre-kindergarten neck- with a smile on her face, if she could have gotten away with it.
“Better now?”-Henry asked.
“Yes. I suppose.”
“Your runners will be dry in no time.”
They walked out the west entrance of the Horse Palace. The Food Building was just across the boulevard.
“Norma, you go find a table with a patch of sun to dry your shoes and I’ll be back with the lunch.” Henry ran across to the entrance of the Food Building, glad for the break away from Norma’s negativity.
In a few minutes Henry returned with lunch. Norma had found a table near the stage where buskers were entertaining a crowd. After enjoying part of a German Sausage she slid off the seat of the picnic table to check her runners, drying in the hot August sun.
“How are they”- asked Henry as Norma bent over and ran her fingers along the inside of the white runners..
“Pretty good actually. They are drying quickly.”
“Yes?”- she answered still bent at the waist, “what’s that on your shorts there?”
“All over your butt.”-he was pointing now.
“I dunno… She wiped an index finger across her shorts and raised it to her nose.”
Suddenly, Norma strung a stretch of expletives together at such volume vocally, that the ticket booth attendants at the BMO field across the way could hear!
“It’s Pigeon Shit!”
Then, Norma took a hissy fit, right there on the CNE grounds with thousands of people watching. She wailed with unapologetic gusto!
Meanwhile, Henry dropped his face to the picnic table and laughed such a hardy, yet silent laugh, that his entire body simply shook and shimmied.
He had no regard for the consequences of his actions but in that moment he knew one thing for certain- he still loved going to the Canadian National Exhibition- especially with Norma.