The Boa and the Fair | Mark Lindsay

A fair! There is nothing like it to stir the imagination. I've loved fairs since I was a young boy on the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore. Fairs, carnivals, circuses and boardwalk, they will forever gladden my heart.

Every fair is designed for spectacle. There is always something there to amaze us, to yank our consciousness out of its day-to-day dullness. There was a time in our early days of life when everything would yield wide-eyed amazement. Then adulthood turns us jaded. We've seen it all before. A fair's purpose is to change all that and to bring back the balloons of our youth.

While staying near the Sedona airport after our Grand Canyon hike we noticed a traffic jam. The asked the woman with the beehive hair in the hotel office what the commotion was all about. "It's the Sedona Community Fair!" she proclaimed through an Arizona drawl. "Lots of old cars and planes and food and wine." Her painted fingernails swirled around in the air for emphasis.

As we walked past the traffic jam towards the fair entrance I could feel my footsteps quicken. My legs remember the boardwalks and county fairs of my youth. I could feel the anticipation. I could smell the popcorn, a particularly delicious scent that I've never, ever been able to resist.

Inside there were, indeed, lots of cars and planes and food and wine. However, in the center of the fair stood a young woman wrapped by a lovely boa constrictor. All the kids were there, in hushed silence, petting the lovely reptile. The woman kept lifting the snake upwards like a pair of baggy pants. The heavy creature was sliding down a bit, too gentle to constrict too much.

"Does the snake ever squeeze you?" I asked.

"Sometimes she gets a little too snug with me," she answered with a smile. "Right now she's a little loose," she added as she pulled up the snake one more time.

The snake seemed heavy and limp, kind of the way my cat gets when I rub her belly. Maybe it was the kids who kept petting her. The expensive cars and planes were getting some attention but everyone wanted to pet the snake. I felt happy for snakes everywhere who, after Eve ate her apple, have been getting a bum deal most everywhere. Who would have guessed that a boa constrictor would have been the star of the fair?