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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oktoberfest, Schmoktoberfest.

Let's play a little word association, hm?

I say "meow."
You say "cat."

I say "eraser."
You say "pencil."

I say "Oktoberfest."
You say "German beer drinking party."

You be wrong.

Oktoberfest is a fall carnival of sorts put on by EJ's school. This is in addition to the Halloween party and Walk-A-Thon, the difference being that Oktoberfest serves purely to put so-called Beta-Moms in their place.

A huge component of Oktoberfest is the pumpkin decorating contest. I know its huge because the weekly newsletter has been begging for entries since the middle of September. The rules state, and I quote "There are no rules! Families, have fun!"

Since I happen to be a pumpkin carver extraordinaire (I've won several contests with highly detailed carvings of famous people,) I told EJ to pick something, and I would carve it. She waited till the last minute, and couldn't make up her mind, so I had only about an hour this morning to produce a prize winning gourd.

Here's what I came up with:

Simple and recognizable, but impressive to elementary age kids, I figured. I thought he was kind of cute.

Oh the trouble my little Stewie would bring.

I dragged the three younger kids to EJ's school at lunchtime to drop him off. In typical crappy mom fashion, we squealed in just minutes before the 1pm deadline, and I didn't have the entry form. Hell, I didn't know there was supposed to be an entry form, but at this school, there is no benefit of the doubt.

I filled out the form and put Stewie on the table, and then I looked around at the other pumpkins. Firstly, ours was the only one that was carved - the rest were all painted, and all had props of some sort. One was on its side, and the stem was a nose, and it was painted like a witch, wearing a witch hat. One was painted green, and had little green gourds attached for head and feet, and it was a turtle. It was on a rock, in a pond, with water around it. What a little overacheiver.

That is the type of school we are dealing with.

So I wasn't at all surprised when a woman came out of the teacher's lounge to tell me where to put the pumpkin. (Apparently I had even screwed that up, and put the pumpkin on the wrong table. Horror of horrors!) She looked at Stewie for a moment, and then tapped her chin and asked who carved it.

"Me," I said. "But EJ helped." She didn't, but she's the one who wanted a damn pumpkin to begin with.

"Hm," she answered. She looked over the entry form I had filled out, and then looked back at Stewie. "That's from that one cartoon, right?" she asked.
"Well, yeah," I said. "Family Guy."

"That show isn't really aimed at little kids," she pointed out.

"Well, yeah, but my kids watch clips of it on YouTube and they think its really funny."

"Hm. Hmmmmm." She frowned. "I don't think we can allow that."

I looked at her hard. "The rules state 'no rules,' and my daughter is going to be very upset if you don't let us enter. We're entering the contest. With Stewie."

I gathered up the kids and walked away. I would have liked to spin on my heel and storm out, or at least leave with a little dignity, but instead I picked up The Babe in his car seat, sat Beastie on my hip (from where she immediately wiped her snotty nose on my shoulder), and nudged Four out the door.


Later that night, we attended the stupid really fun Oktoberfest carnival thing. The numerous newsletters that had been sent home for six weeks prior to Oktoberfest forgot to mention one very important fact - unlike the other fundraisers, which are strictly donation only, everything at Oktoberfest cost money.

So we're standing in line to get the various handouts and coloring pages when I realize the lady is selling tickets. "Tickets?" She smiled and tapped the sign on the table. "For the games. And food."

My heart sank. I had no cash with me at all, not even change. "How many tickets do the games cost?" I asked. She tapped the sign again. "Just one, and food is anywhere from one to four tickets."

"Oh. Okay."

I felt about three inches tall as I wheeled the gigantic double stroller out of the ticket line and started towards the door. "No chance you take credit cards?" I asked over my shoulder, jokingly. No one answered me.

We made our way through the crowd of people toward the front door, and I could see that the light rain that had been falling all day had become a downpour. "Great. Just great."
The stroller's wheels kept getting hung up on the table legs, and the brightly painted pumpkins displayed there wobbled ominously as I wrenched them out. "Mom, where are we going?" EJ asked. I swallowed. "Well, we're going home, sweetheart. Mommy doesn't have any money. Mommy thought it was free, like the other festivals." (Clarification - my children call anything fun, from a party to a parade, a festival. Or, more accurately, a festi-ble.)

Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the woman who ran the ticket line, holding five dollars worth of tickets. "Here you go," she said. "I don't have any kids here tonight, so I'll just put five dollars in for you."
"Oh, no, you don't have to do that," I said.
"Five dollars should be enough for the kids to play a few games and get a hot dog," she said. "You should have enough for the baby to have a hot dog too." She pressed the tickets into my hand.

"Thank you," I replied. "Thank you so much."

She walked back to the booth. "I have money," I called after her. "I just forgot it." She turned and smiled at me. I could tell she knew I was lying through my teeth.

The kids played all the little games, and sure enough, they had enough for a hot dog apiece, and a Coke to split.

As far as the contraband Stewie - well, he didn't win any awards, but I overheard lots of parents (Dads, mostly) talking about him. One guy was talking to his kid in Stewie's voice, and the kid was looking at him like he was from space. I have a feeling that kid got to watch some Family Guy clips on YouTube that night.

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