I suppose I should have known what I was getting into agreeing to go to the Kern County Fair with Amberlee and her kids last night. It is, after all, the Kern County Fair. If you ever want a bead on what's wrong with Bakersfield, it's all right there: gangs, hicks, and creeps, all ingesting huge plates of fried food with a gusto reserved for a death row inmate eating his final meal.
The fun came from all sides. Just about everyone assumed I was Amberlee's husband and her kids were my kids, despite a noticeable lack of rings and hand-holding and general interest between the two of us. We were in one of the exhibition halls and Amberlee was buying toys for her kids. The man quickly started making cracks about "your kids keeping you up at night" with the noisy toys. I didn't have the heart to tell him otherwise.
Then again, there were a few folks who caught on in their own particular ways. Amberlee ran into an old co-worker of hers, whom it turns out, is a lesbian. She was there with her girlfriend, who noted that she wanted to steal my rainbow bracelets, because she has a friend "like me" who'd like them. I was not offended, of course, but I was a bit amused.
Having finished entertaining the kids and avoiding the awkward stares of about half the fair crowd, we headed out of the rear gates. A girl, probably in her early 20's, stopped me. She wanted the multicolored flashing heart I was wearing around my neck. She flirted with me a bit. I told her I was planning on getting high later and staring at it (Not really true, but more believable than, "Who the hell are you and why are you talking with me?"). She abandoned her tactics and took to being aggressive with me.
Amberlee had been lagging behind with her kids and finally saw that I was in some sort of odd confrontation with a Bakersfield crazy. She sidled alongside me and grabbed my arm to take me away. Just another night in our bizarre little town.