Last summer, when we saw the glorious billboard proclaiming the 100th anniversary of the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair, Santiago reminded me that he had, in fact, never been to a state fair. Ever.
Me: You’re lying. How can you never have been to a state fair? We took class field trips to the fair when I was a kid.
S: I just haven’t. How far is Des Moines?
Me: Who cares, we’re going to a state fair, right?
S: Darn tootin we are.
So when state fair time rolls around, we dressed in our best Fair Wear (What Would Fern Arable wear?) packed our sunscreen, bottled water and hand sanitizer and trekked to Des Moines.
It was a glorious, giddy day for us all. We crunched through musty-smelling animal barns and cheered on the sheep in a sheep shearing contest. admired a prize-winning bull and spent an hour waiting in line to walk through the reptile house. We ate all things fried: funnel cakes, fried butter, corn dogs, and then we topped that off with cotton candy and a few rides on the Crazy Mouse coaster.
It was the end of the day and we had promised Kantar he could choose a souvenir, so we walked into the arts & crafts building.
There were rows upon rows of vendors selling everything from homemade taffy to handmade felt puppets and carved wooden weaponry. I told the fellas I wanted to look at the soy candles, so we parted ways and agreed to meet back at the doors.
I think we took one too many turns on the Crazy Mouse, because I cannot otherwise rationalize what happened next.
At the end of the building sat a man surrounded by a giant stack of pre-packaged sheets, piled high and wide, in all the colors of the rainbow. A handwritten sign tacked to the back of the booth announced “600 thread count linens. All sizes: $30.” I walked carefully past the crowd of people gathered there, some with their hands crammed into plastic bags to caress the sample fabric and others, wild-eyed, picking through the stacks.
I turned the corner and ran smack into Santiago, and we said in unison:
“Did you see the sheets?”
His eyes met mine. I had my mission, y’all.
Without a word, I turned around and marched back to the booth. I found not one but two pairs of king sized sheet sets, in complimentary neutral colors, and thrust $60 at the tired-looking proprietor. He counted my cash and handed me $20 back.
“Today we’re selling these for $20 a set. Plus two extra pillowcases, did you get those?”
I shook my head, stunned at my great luck, and clutched the 20 while he handed me four extra pillowcases.
(ASIDE: Dang, this is a long post. Sorry.)
When we got to the car, I asked Santiago if he had fun at the fair. He giggled and said “We bought sheets. At the State Fair. We bought fair sheets.”
When we got home, we washed our prizes. A little while later, we made our bed with probably the only things that ever came from the state fair smelling like Downy. And then we noticed that when we held the sheets up to the light, they were kind of transparent.
S: Um, these are see through sheets.
Me: A little, yeah. It’s not that bad. (watching TV through the fitted sheet)
S: Didn’t you check out the samples?
Me: Well, yeah, but I didn’t actually take it out of the package, I just kinda pet it while it was all piled up together, now that I think about it.
S: (Laughing, I’m pretty sure with me not at me) Well, at least it was only $30.
Me: Um, well, actually they were $20 each, so I kinda bought two sets.
S: We have two sets of sheets that we bought from the state fair?
Me: I think we were high from the Crazy Mouse.
And then I climbed into bed and my toenail totally ripped a gigantic hole in the fitted sheet and that’s when we figured that the thread count was probably calculated not by number of threads per square inch, but more like number of threads in the whole sheet. And that’s ok, because it was truly a great day, and we learned a valuable lesson about buying linens from the state fair. It’s a lesson that I think most people probably already know, but I’m glad we are the kind of people who aren’t afraid to learn these things first hand.