Our tent goes up--click, click, click, click. Our banner is raised, rigged with PVC, eye bolts, and rope. Next come the chairs, tables, and tablecloth, and then we spread out our message. Booklets, DVDs, and an assortment of bumper stickers proclaim to the masses that we intend to do everything in our power to end abortion. We do not offer the happiness that new make-up or unique jewelry provides. We do not offer satiation for the belly with cups of freshly squeezed lemonade or hot-off-the-griddle funnel cakes. What we have to say is more important than outward apparel or nourishment.
Five o’clock finally comes, and with it eager crowds. They begin their journey down the road, passing each booth with an open mind and open wallet. They load their arms with bags of flyers from a law firm, radio station, and cell phone company. They spin to win toothpaste and jot down their name for a chance to win a gift card. And then they approach our booth.
A slide show slowly rotates pictures of babies born alive and well from ectopic pregnancies, the last pro-abortion hold-out of most pro-lifers. Bright bumper stickers capture their attention, encouraging them to peruse further. Most people just take a business card and move along. Several stop to listen for a minute, expanding the base of support to end abortion. A select few who show particular interest are chosen to receive a booklet and DVD, with the promise that they speak to their legislator and pass along the information to someone else.
I wander away from my booth. Being at one end of the road, I have two tenths of a mile to fill my mental appetite. Darkness fell fast, so I use the streetlights and occasional strand of Christmas lights to guide me around the patches of people aimlessly milling around the middle of the road. My quest is specific—I need one of those hot-off-the-griddle funnel cakes and a tall glass of strawberry lemonade. In the process of finding the best mobile restaurant, three little kids hand me their parents’ business cards—how can I say no?—but as I pass the palm reading booth, I find that important two letter word rolls easily off my tongue. I avoid eye contact with the political candidates running for re-election. I deny the offering of my hands for a new scent of lotion. I refuse to sign up for any newsletters. I finally place my order and wait. And wait. And wait.Amazingly, here at the world-renowned Butterbean Festival, the line for funnel cakes winds around four booths long, and there is one lone table that I could just walk up to and buy a bag of cold, hard butterbeans. But instead I waited. Just call me a Northerner. :-)
Later that night, as the cool breeze blows through our tent and the rock band drums a headache through my temples, fireworks begin. If you know my history with firework-watching, you know that I have unhappily watched fireworks three times in the past three years. So here we are, in October, watching fireworks. It is cold, I am tired, I have a gigantic headache from the "music", and there is this huge tree half obstructing my view. Standing outside is the last place I want to be right now. But then one particular firework explodes and illuminates the sky with a blue-eyed, pink-lipped smiley face. I remember that on July 5th I had realized that I am the one who decides my mood. I look down at my little boy, who is laughing and pointing as each new display lights up the sky. I look back at the fireworks with a smile on my own face just in time for the finale. A lame finale that got about ten people to half-heartedly cheer for it.
"It's over," I say. My son gives a deep sigh.
"Okay, now it's over." He smiles at me.
"Now it must be over." He doubles over in laughter.
Now we are all chuckling. Seriously? Did they miss this many?
POP! POP! BANG!
I am confused, but we settle back to watch some more fireworks. And then so many explosions, well, EXPLODE! By the end of it, I am giddy with happiness, my son is jumping up and down, and you can hear the cheers all the way from the other end of the festival. What an ending! But just think--we get to do it all over again in the hot sun tomorrow, with no loud colorful ending. That's okay, though, because I have decided that no matter what tomorrow brings, I will face it joyfully. I just can't forget my book. :-)