Every Labor Day weekend in Colorado Springs there's a hot air balloon festival. Sounds quaint doesn't it? But, it's not. It never is. Festivals are horrible for one very important reason. Because they're festering with people. Crowds of people, drawn together to appreciate something that they can't even see through the damn crowds of festering people. Hope you packed binoculars.
Also, I hope the festival you're going to is free. (Although, as you know, nothing is truly free and we'll get to that.) Because why would anyone pay $20 to go to say, a Renaissance festival? That doesn't even buy you food or parking. What does it get you? A free juggling show and a sunburn? I can't say. Because I've personally never been. Which is a benefit to you, if you're into that kind of thing, because my absence means there's one less person between you and the juggler.
I admit, sometimes it's hard to resist a free festival. It's F-R-E-E after all. But, it's never free. Even if you score free parking ten blocks away from the festival. Because when you get there you're going to be thirsty from hoofing it there. And then you'll remember you forgot to pack your water bottle because you had to leave the house at 6am to score the free parking 10 blocks away from the festival to get there in time to see the balloons before they take off at 7am.
But, more than likely, you're not going to get out the door at 6am. You think you will. And then you'll hit the snooze button 3 times. Then you'll forget you have to let the dogs out to pee before you leave the house. Then at least one kid you're forcing to go with you won't be able to find their shoes. Or they'll need to shower because they're teenagers and could see someone they know there. Whatever the reason is, you'll be running late.
When you do get there, the venue will already be swarming with people. People who are, apparently, more organized than you. But, you'll call them anal because you're bitter. Then you'll find yourself standing in a ridiculously long line for a bottle of water that's $5. And you haven't even had your morning coffee yet, but the coffee line is even longer than the bottled water line, so screw that. Plus, if you have the coffee you know you're going to have to use the dreaded porta potty. The funny thing is, you've deluded yourself into thinking you can avoid it. You can't.
Now the kids are whining. They've actually been fighting since they woke up, it's just that you're more awake now, so it's more annoying. Now it's time to force them to go see the balloons close up before they take off. Because this is what we came for dammit. The closer you get to the balloons, the more you get accidentally bumped and elbowed by random strangers who don't acknowledge your existence, let alone, apologize. Is there anything more annoying than that? Maybe the fact that you can't get a good picture of anything. Not the balloons. And definitely not your family. Wait....where is your family?
When you stopped futilely trying to take a picture, they wandered off somewhere and didn't tell you. You try to call them on their cells, but no one can hear a phone ring over the whooshing of the propane filling the balloons and the excited crowd. So, you're forced to push your way through the throng of people to find them. You're so pissed off you're completely oblivious to the balloons lifting off. Missing the one that floated right above your head in what would have been the perfect photo. That's when you see your family. Standing at the edge of the lake, watching the balloons sail by, smiling and taking it all in. Which doesn't make you happy that you found them at all. Just more pissed that they ditched you while they enjoyed it, oblivious of your absence.
Your irritation is exacerbated by the fact that you're so hungry you feel like you're going to throw up. So, you need to get some fried dough in you to settle your stomach. Which is like the most counter intuitive thing someone could do. Because after you spend $45 in fried dough to feed your family and scarf it down, you're going to need to use the porta potty in the most urgent way. Which, of course, is on the other side of the festival grounds. To get there you'll need to wade through the salesmen handing out fliers and pencils advertising their insulation, windows and/or siding.
When you finally get to the shit shack just in the nick of time, or so you think, there's a line. This can't be happening! But, yet, this is always the way it happens. When you do finally get in there, on the last day of the festival, it's heinous. And there's no toilet paper left. And it's not even one of those new fangled ones with a hand sanitizer dispenser. Shhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttt! That's when you'll remember the truth about festivals.