Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Oddities Museum (A Personal Experience)

Folks, although this is a horror movie review blog, I need to share a personal experience that I had during my 4th of July holiday vacation.

I drove back to my family home in South Dakota from Seattle with my husband Michael and one of my brothers, fellow blog contributor, Matthew. Despite the two day drive (one way) and 16 family members being crowded together in one house for four days, we all had a great time and I loved being there with everyone. On July 3rd we decided to visit the carnival in town. It's been several years since I went to a carnival and I really wanted to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl with my nieces so I jumped right on that band wagon.

This traveling show comes to our hometown every year for the 4th of July, so I expected to see the same rides and not be blown away by anything new. This year the carnival surprised me with a massive "Oddities Museum" tent, complete with painted banners advertising sword swallowers and freaks of nature.

Right On! I thought to myself - I've always wanted to see one of these shows. What could possibly go wrong?

I surveyed the crowd to see who would join me in this excursion and only my two eldest nieces and my brother, Matthew were willing to join me. My youngest niece, seven years old, informed me that the tent was "inappropriate", my husband said I would regret it, and the other family members conveniently didn't hear me and complained of sunburns and heat stroke.

It was agreed upon that we should ride the Tilt-A-Whirl first and then see the show. I didn't see a problem with this until we got on the ride, started twirling around (laughing, screaming) and then something broke. We came to a sudden stop and the machine operator ordered us off right away, claiming a belt snapped but that we could come back in about 30 minutes and ride for free. This shook me up pretty good. It actually left me more worried about what we'd see in the Oddities tent and with a vow that I would not be returning for my free ride. Figured I just got a second chance at life and wouldn't risk another more dangerous break in the machine that could hurtle me into a crowd of cotton candy stuffed people like a bowling ball plowing through pins.

But on to the Oddities Tent we went! We gave our tickets to the carnival barker - who was not actually barking - just standing behind the podium and adjusting the volume of this barking boom box that proclaimed I'd see wonders that will blow my mind.

The four of us began our tour with seeing supposed mummies, mermaids, and monsters. No big deal, I've seen the same things in touristy curiosity shops but I quickly surmised that all these exhibits were found in a taxidermist's musty basement where they were created 50+ years ago with a little needle, thread, and imagination. But it was when we encountered the live exhibits that the sadness kicked in. A duck with a little webbed foot on it's head, two headed turtles, a dog with five legs, etc. these did not blew my mind - they just made me sad. Especially seeing the condition of their homes which was not okay with me, and  my sad quickly turned into mad.

By this time I want to advise my nieces not to touch anything and ask if they were up-to-date on their hepatitis shots, but then the leopard lady showed up...

She was on a stage, behind us and she bellowed into the microphone: "Hi, hi there! Come on up to the stage now." We turned around reluctantly and walked up to the stage. Think Dorothy and team approaching the great wizard for the first time. Now, the only audience in this tent were me, my two nieces, my brother, and some other preteen girl who was likely only there because an older brother double dog dared her to. She seemed rather afraid of the leopard lady and stood close to us. Although the audience scene was bad, I thought perhaps the leopard lady would show us a trick or two to make this $2.00 ticket experience worth it. I then noticed that her "leopard prints" were smugging around the knees and accepted the fact that I just spent $8.00 to be disappointed.

As the North Dakotan accented leopard lady showed us stabbing herself with sharp objects, and sword and fire swallowing with the enthusiasm of a banana slug, I had a vision of her taking shots of Wild Turkey between each show, crying a little more each time. I felt sorry for her in-between thoughts of: "Why is that typical North Dakota license plate just sitting there, propped up on the stage...?" and "Did you just seriously request that we not take up sword swallowing because there were too many people already doing it?" and "Please make this ride stop, depression is kicking in."

However, it was when she began asking for a participant from the audience that I wanted to grab the kids and run. Instead, my nieces ran and hid behind us. Smart girls. Unfortunately for the double dog dare taker, she then became the target for the leopard lady.

Here's how it went down:

Leopard Lady: "Come on up! I'll put you in this box and run these blades through."
Double Dog Dare Taker: Shakes head violently.
LL: "Oh come on. It won't hurt, I promise. It'll be quick."
DDDT: Shakes head violently.
LL: "Please, see you'll just go in this box and I'll show you where to hide."
DDDT: Shakes head violently.
LL: "Oh I get it. Your parents probably told you not to crawl into strangers boxes at the carnival."
DDDT: Just stands there, on the verge of tears.
LL: "Oh well, alright. On to plan B which is never as good as plan A. Does anyone have a dollar they want to make disappear?"
Me: Everyone is looking at me. "I don't have any cash..." which was not true...
LL: "Come on - a dollar, anyone?"
Me: Fishes into my change container, trying to hide my dollar bills, "...I got...let's see here...sixty five cents?"
LL: "That'll work."
Me: gives change to Matthew who then gives it to the leopard lady.
LL: "Okay, we don't normally accept change but this should work. See this normal piece of fabric? [displays a piece of blue velvet] I will now make this money disappear [continues to display a piece of blue velvet, turns it a couple times] Ta-Da! [displays the same piece of blue velvet, then tosses it over her shoulder. It flies to the stage and you can clearly hear the change when it hits. Matthew and I nearly loose it in laughter at this point]. Okay - here you go young lady, [eldest niece accepts .65 cent gift] a picture of me swallowing a sword!"

We all sad clapped, thanked her for her time and ran out of the tent. The rest of the family was waiting for us right outside and excitedly asked us about the experience. I went up to my Husband and asked him to hold me, Matthew was silent for a long while, and the nieces politely said, "It was interesting."

In all, this little excursion to the Oddities Museum was a bad idea, however if it's not a good time then it's a good story ... and I really needed to talk about this experience to the interwebs. You Are All Welcome! Also, this little adventure was a horror show on a whole different level so I think it will still fit nicely on this blog.

Good luck out there everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment