I grew up in a trailer park in Marietta, where the summer nights got so sticky, sweat turned to paste on your neck, practically acting like fly paper. Those evenings were soundtracked by one thing: the din of the North Georgia State Fair.
My grandparents' trailer was so close to the fairgrounds, the grinding of cowboy boots on the dirty gray gravel traveled crisply across the lazy night air. Families came in clanky vans to slurp down the crystallized sugary poison of a $2 cotton candy special, while tattooed boyfriends pleaded for sex with their too-tan dropout girlfriends over cheap vanilla soft serve and Ferris wheel rides. God, how I wanted to be there.
The yearly event, which seemed to span the entire summer, would usually invite big-name musical acts to perform. More often than not, they were hot country artists of a year or two prior. The summer of ’94, though, as I recall, theater-rock god Meat Loaf was the headliner. (While the state fair folks deny any involvement with Mr. Loaf that year, or any summer for that matter, I distinctly remember his wail reaching our trailer.)
The short, bowl-cut gradeschool porker that I was, I ran out onto our doublewide’s front porch, letting the screen door slam behind me like my name was Mary and I was in a Springsteen song. My bare feet slapped across the plywood and down the steps to race toward the sounds of the epic, transcendent (to my ears at that age, anyway) opening of Meat Loaf's then radio staple "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That...)." Even at 11 years old, my love for hyper-obnoxious, super-theatrical musician flair was strong, though I'd eventually swap out Meat Loaf for his potato equivalent, Bono.
I only made it as far as the steaming blacktop of our driveway before my grandmother screeched, "RUSSELL, GET INSIDE OR YOU'RE GOING TO GET TETANUS. YOU DON'T WANNA GET TETANUS. COME EAT YOUR PORK CHOP!"
I couldn't have Meat Loaf that night (or ever, actually. My trailer park dreams of seeing him never came true), but I did have my pork chop.