Monthly Archives: September 2012

The People’s Forum

Stick a fork in it, my people!

Because I encourage it, I get a fair amount of feedback, grievances, and downright weird commentary about this humble column.  I devote today’s piece to my people and their rantings.  And away we go.

Mt. Kisco, NY: “How about someone gets a snake tattoo when young and then adds a few dozen pounds.  By the time they’re done, the snake looks like it swallowed a goat.” (Or the tramp stamp, located on a particularly spreadable area, the Saddlebag.)

Westport, CT:  “I am ruffled by the way corporate and utility bills that come in the mail keep urging us to Go Green—not because they give a flying burrito about the planet, but so they can save on payroll and postage, which is to say naked greed. Automate the heck out of everything.  And bury your customer service number deep within your website. Have just two employees with minimal benefits and no customer service beyond recorded loop nonsense. All in the name of Going Green. Yeah, okay.”

Randolph, VT:  From a friend in her 80s, “At my age, Honey,  a nose job means melanoma removal.”

New York, NY: “This from my 11-year old niece: ‘Boys are nothing but problems.’ Wise beyond her years.”

Washington, DC:  “As film studios  and advertising agencies throw bizarre apocalyptic movies and disturbing television commercials at us, we urge: ‘We’re banged-up creatures in a post-9.11 world suffering from global disaster burnout, not  heartless rocks impervious to your scenes of contagion, explosions, and angels crashing on city pavement.’  What the heck are they thinking? Were the people who cooked this violence up born after 9.11? Possible. Employers like to hire people who’ll work for nothing because they’re still living with their parents—even after college.”

 Hanover, NH:  A friend e-mailed and I saved, “My new mantra so I don’t crack: No one escapes.” I wrote her back to ask what word I had mistakenly cut off at the end. No one escapes what?  Her reply: “Nothing. That was it. ‘No one escapes.’”

 Somewhere in the Heartland:  “I, too, eschew the news.  It’s what drove me out of my parents’ house when they generously let us, our birds, and our rescue cat stay there.  The TV was always on, tuned in to bad news followed by court TV followed by more news!  Waaaaait a minnnnute….”

Los Angeles, CA:  “It’s weird is how, almost instantly, you can tell how old basketball footage is from the shorts. Long shorts have been in so long it’s time for them to go out. Which is bad for those of us entering the Long Shorts—and Big Jewelry—years.”  (Also the Big Glasses years. They were in a season ago and you can still find monster ones that cover half your face. As for the short shorts, well, giant hair from the 80s never came back. So there’s hope.)

New Chappaqua, New York:  “My harp teacher sent me the Top Ten Tips To Remember About Playing In Public” (thematically abridged by UVG):

1. It’s a harp. They’re gonna love it.

3. Even if you do make a mistake and do telegraph it, they won’t care. It’s a harp. They’re gonna love it.

6. Noodling in the middle is perfectly acceptable until you can find your way back to the tune. It’s called improvising. They’ll think you did it on purpose, and since it’s a harp, they’re gonna love it.

8. People aren’t as tired of the old standards as you are. Go on, play Greensleeves. On a harp, they’ll love it.

10. You are sharing yourself in a way few people do, and you have a right to be proud of that. And since you are doing it with a HARP…They’re gonna love it.

Westchester, PA:  “On an Islamic holy day, my teenage son’s friends were all hanging out in town and one kid’s mother called him to reprimand him about praying, so he went into the Dunkin’ Donuts bathroom and said his prayers.  I couldn’t help myself; I asked my son, ‘How did he know to face east in a room with no windows?’  The answer, ‘Duh, his cell phone, Mom.’”  (Try the Compass app, you’ll lerv it!)

My doctor’s favorite bumper sticker:  Reality Is Not What You Think.

My suggested bumper sticker:  Just a minute, Officer. I’m texting.

Vanity Plate Spotted on Route 4:  PUZZLES

My next Vanity Plate:  PUZZLED

Feel free to send your deepest thoughts. For inspiration, play Deepest Purple, Deep Purple’s best of album (think: Space Truckin’).  Good day.

Ann Aikens can be reached via Facebook (ann.aikens.7), e-mail at, and Twitter at @uvgvt (

It’s Just Better ~ Tunbridge World’s Fare Part Deux

This year’s TWF poster, by Wendy Judge of Royalton

When I’m not huffing Vicks VapoRub®, canoodling, or making embarrassing typos like “right up your ally,” I’m culling the herd of Deep Thoughts in my noggin to fill again this humble space for your amusement. This week’s deepest thoughts were memories of when, years ago, a friend and I were seeking a place to live and kept driving across the border between Vermont and New Hampshire looking at towns that came recommended.  Every time we crossed into Vermont, we breathed easier.  “It’s just better,” she said.  Which I propose now, 15 years later, as our new state motto.  No disrespect to the Granite State.

One reason Vermont rocks is its annual Tunbridge World’s Fair, or as one fan put it, “Sugar, lights, grease, noisy crowds…wow, an American dream.”  We go for the music, the animals, native Vermonters, rides, maple cotton candy, games of “skill”, and that blend of meats you can’t get at home—and wouldn’t want to but somehow crave once a year. It’s a draw, not a drawback.

Happily, this year’s Dairy Costume Class was the best ever. That’s where kids dress up their young cows and selves in sartorial representations of, say, Surgeon and Nurse. The three winners were Cop and Criminal, Burger and Fries, and Milk and Cookies, all brilliantly realized.

Burger and Fries

Cookies and Milk

Cop and Criminal

When the real-life cop manning the Applause-O-Meter pointed to the girl of Cop and Criminal, I yelled, “Lady cop!” and the guy next to me cried, “Conflict of Interest!” It’s that kind of gig and is my favorite, along with the Livestock Cavalcade (Supreme Dairy Cow, crazy goats, crazier humans in goat carts), which is second only in audience participation to the Coin Drop Cavalcade motorists enjoy on the way in.

The Livestock Cavalcade

I also like to vote on the Art and view the dioramas comprising the Children’s Decorated Vegetables. This year’s eyecatchers were the quilts, and a child’s ridged, skinny squash painted like a blue whale. Remarkable! Outside, my dad ran into an acquaintance in the know. This man said there used to be a Dance Hall where the maple hut now is, and the point was “to go in with your wife, and leave with somebody else’s,” (hey, it was the 60s) and that one year there was “mud wrestling.”  Here’s the convo:

Upper Valley Girl: Mud wrestling?! In the Beer Hall?

Knowledgeable Man:  No, in the field behind the barns.

UVG:  Oh, some kind of impromptu free-for-all after a rainstorm?

KM: Let’s just say this was not a fair-sanctioned event.

UVG:  It was ad hoc?

KM: It was more than that.

Sorry I missed it! Thank you, Knowledgeable Man. We didn’t get into the Girlie Tent years. Way my mom tells it, my great-grandfather was kicked out of the house in Barnard for having come home with lipstick on his collar from that particular “attraction.”  As my Dad tells it, it was something to do with a Girlie woman named “Sally.” What I wouldn’t give to have seen any of it, them in a lather in their old-tymey garb and pre-deodorant BO.

Children’s Decorated Vegetables

This, the 139th year, was the Year of the Chicken and Rabbit. I personally didn’t see much of either except in the overpriced box of greasy popcorn chicken I hauled around for 2 hours before chucking. You can only eat so many of those babies—unless you’re one of the Harringtons of Pomfret, in which case you can eat a whole bucket while watching the Larkin Contra Dancersfor hours on end.

Swine Show

Ah, the TWF. Well, another reason Vermont is so cool is the community vibe. I’ve been lonely in big cities but, upon achieving the Green Mountain State, never so. The laffs are early and often even at choir rehearsal, where everyone reverts to high school chorus behavior and a mosquito laden with EEE, West Nile Virus, and malaria can put the fear of God where it belongs—into the tenors.

So if you’re looking to relocate and you want nutty events and community—and hairy people in pilly sweaters with animal fur on them who don’t dye their hair or shave properly (Green Mountain casual) —it could be for you. It’s also a good place to get zuked. That’s when you leave your car unlocked and someone puts a giant, unwanted zucchini in your back seat. Lock your doors. Good day.

Giantest Squash competition.

Guess Which Ones of These

And no, it wasn’t “animals” ~ unless you count the rednecks.

…we did not comply with during 50Palooza?

Ann Aikens

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