Remember this the next time you have a bad day

by | May 26, 2014

I was reading through our family blog recently and rediscovered this gem from January 16, 2010, when my daughter, Libby, was five years old:


lib11See that butterfly toy in Libby’s hands?

It has four aggravating brilliant lighting schemes, and it plays a somebody-please-shoot-me-dead-before-I-tear-my-ears-off delightful high-pitched techno song. As near as I can tell, the lyrics go like this:

The needle in the sky
We’re stuck inside ” yeah
The giant in your eye

Ad infinitum.

This insanely cheap toy that probably cost five cents to produce in China breathtaking toy is yours for the taking for only $86.75.

Anyhoo, the day started out benignly enough.

A wonderful friend of ours (may she be cursed by a million greedy circus workers and her bank account forever drained) was evil thoughtful enough to give us buy-one-get-one-free tickets to the circus.

“Oh, what a great date for our kids!” we thought in our little pea-brains.

It was my turn to take Libby. With our ticket in hand, I went to the website to find the location. I clicked on their “Get Driving Directions” link and printed off the map. By 10:30 a.m. we were out the door to make the 11:30 show.

An hour later, we were sitting at the crossroads of the middle of nowhere, staring into vast empty fields.

I called Karina. “Um, something tells me we have bad directions.” (I’m observant like that.) “Can you look this up for me?”

A few moments passed.

“You’re WHERE?!! How did you end up there?!”

“Well, it’s where Google maps told me to go. I just clicked the link on the circus website.”

“You’re an hour away from the circus in the completely opposite direction.”

“Oh. Dang.”

The lack of ONE STINKING COMMA in the address was to blame. So we missed the 11:30 show. Being the stupid sweet dad that I am, I was still committed to getting Libby to the 3:30 show.

So we drove home, had some lunch, then left again at 2:30. We pulled into the entrance of the event center by about 3:20. It wasn’t until we were trapped in three lanes of bumper-to-bumper cars with no exit in sight that they revealed signs saying “Cash Only Parking $10.”

After struggling to lift my jaw from the floor, I plowed ahead. What’s $10 in the grand scheme of things, right? (Turns out, in the grand circus scheme it’s just a drop in the bucket.)

We had brought our coats, but I told Libby, “We’re going to be inside, so we can just leave these in the car.”

Whereupon we proceeded to get into a line approximately the length of 1,472 elephants. And waited in the cold. And waited.

We finally walked into the arena at about 4:10 and took our seats.

The trapeze artists were having their fling. And a poor fling it was. We sat and watched three failed attempts before they gave up and moved on.

While the show proceeded, the only thing Libby saw was all the glowing toys in the audience. “Everyone else has one of those. Why can’t I get one?” she wheedled.

I sighed. And called a circus worker over. I braced myself to pay an exorbitant amount for a toy — you know, like $5.

Libby made her choice from about five different options, and the man handed her the toy. “How much?” I asked innocently.

“$20,” he responded.

Luckily, they were able to revive me using electric heart paddles.

And Libby was pleased as punch. She spent the entire show mesmerized by her toy, casting occasional glances at the ring if there was something mildly interesting, like four elephants doing tricks that I haven’t seen dogs do.


A half hour before the show ended, they called an “intermission” so they could have time to “set up their props for the next events.” Lousy, stinkin’ liars. They set up a bunch of attractions on the floor for people to pay more money for, like riding the elephants and taking your picture with a boa constrictor.

“Everyone else gets to go on those rides,” whined Libby, “so why can’t I?”

“Because they don’t have loan applications here,” I replied.

But I was dumb kind enough to get her a soft pretzel for roughly the cost of our monthly food budget.

We I finished watching the show, Libby with her precious butterfly toy and me with rocks in my stomach and pinching myself thinking, “Is this day seriously happening?”

About 15 minutes before the show ended, circus workers ran through the audience with their lighting toys shouting, “Four dollars!”

It didn’t work out too badly. I’ve got a restraining order, but it’s no big deal since the circus will move on to parts unknown and I’ll never see those guys again.

We left the event center at 6:00 p.m., whereupon I made yet another wrong turn, which ended up costing us another half hour. We made it home by 7:00 p.m. We’d been at it since 10:30 that morning.

And the whole drive home I get the aggravation pleasure of hearing from the back seat, “Everyone else got to ride the elephants, and I didn’t even get to.” “I didn’t even get to talk to a clown.”

So this is where you’re thinking, “Ah, c’mon, it’s just money, and Libby will remember it forever.” Only one problem with that:

Parking: $10
Admission: $18
Butterfly Toy: $20
Soft Pretzel: $3.75
3/4 Tank of Gas: $35

Total: $86.75
Libby’s Happiness: Equal to buying her a toy at the dollar store and playing with her at the park.

So there you have it.

And like I said, all that happiness and all those memories can be yours now for only $86.75. Act fast and for the rest of your life you’ll get to hear:

The needle in the sky
We’re stuck inside ” yeah
The giant in your eye

…in a whiny techno voice from a quarter-inch speaker at full volume.

What are you waiting for?


My point in sharing is this: Looking back on that day gives me nothing but the deepest pleasure. And I hope you find that perspective helpful the next time you have a bad day.


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