Face Painting

Dad, Im bored. Theres nothing to do here. I wanna go. Its hot. Im tired. The food smells funny and the rides are all squeaky and shaky [boy, does this kid know his traveling carny business], says the five-year-old boy to his father, whos not hearing a word of it as he cravenly staring into the invigorating deeply shadowed interior of the brew tent with its libatious temptations of unlimited shivery cans of lite beer and the possibility of small talk with a cool quart of hometown MILK (Mom Id Like to Know, if you know what I mean).

The kid pulls down hard on the edge of his old mans T-shirt, which he has tucked into his jeans for maximum visual effect. He looks down hard at his son from under the brim of the ubiquitous baseball cap, so angry he could throw a handful of dirt at the boy. Then, snapping briefly back to reality, smiles at his son, who has amazingly already mastered driving the family ATV at full bore. He scans the booths, the whirring devices of almost-certain mechanical death or dismemberment (the one thing his wife would never forgive him for), and spots the perfect alternative.

He hands the kid a five and and says, Whyont you get your face painted with all them other kids?

The boy looks at the line, the kids all around him who have butterflies and flowers and fully licensed, trademarked animation charactersin clear violation of any interpretation of fair useever attempted as a defended in any U.S. court of lawdrawn on their faces. The kid knows its this or three poison dogs that will leave him bloated and hallucinating in the noonday son, so he agrees.

All right, Dad, he says, taking the sweaty half-sawbuck.

All right, dude! Dad replies, high-fiveing his son, even as his feet are already moving of their own volition toward the semidark anonymity of the beer big top.

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