In spite of my earlier bemoaning of fall, in Arkansas, there are a few redeeming qualities to the season. I find caramel apples, vibrantly hued leaves and 70 degree days to be relatively fair trade offs for the horror to come. However, by far the most appealing event to occur each fall is the County Fair. Yes, I love the County Fair. Does this shock you? It still shocks me... This year I think I finally realized the reason I love the fair. I am, at the very core of my being, a very competitive person. I truly believe this was a genetic trait instilled in me from eons past. I am competitive at everything I do; when in school it wasn't enough to just get an "A", I had to get the highest "A", when I began my career it wasn't enough to be the first woman in my company to be promoted to a certain position, I had to also be the youngest woman to do so. You no doubt get the drift. I discovered this year that the County Fair combines my two greatest loves; critters and competition. While I may not understand the difference between a fine bovine and a poor one, I appreciate the dedication and work it took by said animals handlers to raise their specimen to meet those specifications. So, I find I can wander through the various barns and admire for hours on end the multitude of examples of equine, bovine and porcine perfection. I can even look covetously at their dangling purple ribbons,and know full well that had I chosen to enter my prize pig (if I'd had one) it no doubt would be carrying one of those home. I love furry footed chickens and velvet coated rabbits, woolly lambs and bleating goats. Those all give me warm fuzzy feelings that are just perfectly topped off by a funnel cake and a lemonade. But then, to really get my competitive blood boiling, the fair also has the midway, does it not? For a highly competitive person this little thoroughfare is the epitome of pleasure. There is just something about all those little men with their "step right ups" that just get my competitive juices flowing. And here is where it gets really nasty-it isn't good enough just to pop the slightly flaccid balloons with the more than dull darts to win the tiny, and no doubt highly flammable, stuffed toy. I, and my competitive mania, have to pop ALL the balloons to win the BIGGEST toy. It isn't just that I want any old prize; I want the biggest and the best. Strangely, this puts me very much mind of how I wooed and won my biggest prize; my husband.
I met Mr. Big Prize at just this time of year. The air was just turning crisp, and I was just turning back to dating after a particularly foul time in my life. I met him in the most unlikely of places, and it was wonder and amazement at first sight. My husband is a stunningly beautiful creature. He was once described by another woman as "the most beautiful man she'd ever seen in real life", and I have to say that I ascribe to her feeling, 110%. Owning no doubt at least in part to that fact, and to the fact that when I met him he was 28 and never married, Mr. Big Prize had dated nearly everyone in the state of Arkansas over the legal driving age and under that of the average nursing home resident. I just fell quite head over heels almost right away. We'd been dating for a few weeks when one of his well meaning friends pulled me to the side to give me a bit of what I'm sure he considered well meaning advice. "Laine", he said "you're a really nice girl,and we all like you a lot. But there is something you need to know. Mr.Big Prize never dates anybody for long. He's way WAY too picky, and is looking for perfection. He'll no doubt find something wrong with you too pretty soon." Then, he proceeded to list for me a myriad of reasons why Mr.Big Prize had dumped my poor predecesssors, and you can read in parenthesis my thoughts in return. "For instance", he said "he once dumped a girl because her toes were too long (well, of course, feet are disgusting anyway and should be lopped off) and once he dumped a girl because she ate all her dinner and some of his too (naturally! What kind of grocery bill would this glutton eventually run up) and worst of all, he once dumped a girl for not liking dogs (what kind of monster doesn't like dogs????)" You can imagine what kind of response this elicited in me. It was like 10,000 of those little Carnies all waving at me and screaming "step right up". There's nothing like going after the Big Prize, the one that is perfect for you, and the one you want most of all, when the odds are just dead stacked against you. Well, long story short, 10 short months later I had Mr. Big Prize standing at the alter saying his till death do us part's, as I giddily waltzed down an isle littered with the broken hearts of most the women in our fair state. And no, I do not exaggerate.
That was 14 glorious years ago. Turns out I was his version of perfect and he mine. He is more perfect for me now than he was then. Our lives thus far have been filled with a myriad of joys and hurts, challenges and triumphs. We pledged from the beginning that we were going into marriage as a team, and that it would be as a team that we would face every challenged lobbed at us throughout life. She's thrown some doozies, I can assure you, but she's rewarded us along the way as well. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without him, and I cannot adequately express the wondrous joy it has been with him. I pray that God grants us both long life, so we can have even more of this incredible adventure together. What an adventure it is...and it doesn't hurt that I'm having it with the most beautiful man I've ever seen in real life.