Back in my twenties, I went to the University of South Carolina with a fellow by the name of Lenwood Reeves. We also wound up working together.
He was a good guy, Lenwood. We became friends.
Lenwood grew up in a small South Carolina farm community way, way out in the middle of nowhere. He was a bit on the naïve side not having seen much of the world outside his community.
We played jokes on Lenwood, such as the time we took him to a party that we promised would have plenty of girls. It did, but it was a lesbian party.
Lenwood was not stupid. He caught on pretty quick. At the end of the night, when someone asked him what he thought he said, “I tell you, boys, there’s no worse a feeling than being the only guy in a room full of girls and everybody’s looking for the same thing.”
In October the State Fair comes to Columbia, where we lived. I had no plans to go, but Lenwood wouldn’t here of it. He told me he’d never been to a fair.
“They didn’t have fairs or anything where you grew up, Lenwood?” I asked him.
“A fair did come to Lancaster once,” he told me, absolutely serious, “But someone got drunk and shot the elephant and they never came back.”
As Lenwood told it, a bunch of teenagers lost all their money on one of those rigged fair games. To get revenge, they left the fair, got drunk, got a deer rifle, parked across the road from the fair and shot one of the elephants the fair was using for elephant rides.
The good news, if you can call it that, is they only wounded it. The elephant turned out to be just fine. I know, because I looked it up and actually found an article on the incident from “The Circus Report,” which bills itself as “Americas Favorite Circus Weekly”
Lenwood and I did wind up going to the fair. He rode a fair ride for the first time that night. It was called “The Bullet.” The Bullet is shaped like a rocket ship. It is attached to a big wheel or sorts. The rocket ship spins sideways while the wheel spins it forward.
It’s quite a ride.
When the ride was over the attendent opened the door, but Lenwood didn’t move.
“Time to get out,” I told him.
“Ain’t sure I can,” he said.
“The cheeks of my butt still have a death-grip on this seat,” he said.
That was his first and last fair ride.