(This is a version of a post from ten years ago. With the Labor Day Holiday coming up I was reminded of the Tinley Park Fall Festival. It was a great time when I was a kid, and I learned many things from going to that carnival.)
It’s amazing how children are over-protected these days. They have to wear helmets when they ride their bikes, competitive games in gym class are discouraged. Parent’s think they’ve protected the kids from porn with computer programs and V-Chips, but trust me, they are like little Einstein’s when it comes to getting around things like that. I think you have to let kids have some leeway so that they learn things on their own. When I was a kid I learned not to ride my bike at breakneck speed around a corner with gravel in the middle of it. I slid twenty feet on my face and side through that gravel and learned a lesson. I learned about porn in the 1950’s, from Paul, a neighbor kid down the street. He apparently knew all of his dad’s hiding places. I’ll never get over the deck of porno playing cards, especially the joker. From that I learned some people are quite agile.
You can’t protect your kids from outside influences if they don’t want you to. The biggest event in Tinley Park when I was a kid was the ‘Labor Day Fall Festival’, or the ‘carnival’ as we called it. It included carnival rides, a parade, and fireworks. One year they also had ‘ladies wrestling’. My best friend at the time, Arthur along with his dad, made plans to go see the lady wrestlers and invited me to go along. At first my mom said no, but I worked on her for hours, telling her all kinds of reasons she should let me go. I then tried my dad, who for some reason thought it was a fine idea for me to go see ‘lady wrestlers’, and so my mom was over-ruled.
We pushed our way up front to the side of the wrestling ring which was set up in the middle of the carnival. In the ring were two of the meanest and hardest women I had ever seen, and would never see again until I met some drag queens. The bell rang, and I stood there totally mesmerized at the scene unfolding before me. I was totally impressed with how one woman, after being almost beaten, came back and kicked the ass of the other. The fight did include hair pulling, which I considered totally fair and in hindsight should have realized doesn’t work in a real fight. You see, I was so impressed, I figured I could do exactly what that woman did in a fight and beat anyone. To test my theory a few days later, I challenged a kid in my class to a fight. The kid I challenged, I thought, would be an easy mark. He always seemed sort of meek and quiet, also he had red hair, which for some reason I associated with wimps. At the appointed time, at a location halfway between school and my house, we met to fight. There was a pretty good crowd of kids anticipating a good fight. They didn’t get one. I didn’t even get one punch in, because as I was going for his hair to pull it like I saw at the ladies wrestling match, he punched me in the face. I fell straight to the ground and he jumped on me and proceeded to beat the living crap out of me.