"For those of you who missed it, the Demolition Derby at the Douglas County Fair was Friday night. And by "those of you," I mean "all of this blog's readership," because there is no patina of irony about the Doug Co. Fair Demo Derby behind which the hipster may hide his or her displeasure at being at the Doug Co. Fair Demo Derby. First, you must know that the derby sells out. Every year. People with unironic mullets and Tweety Bird t-shirts sit ass-to-ass on three high-school-stadium-sized bleachers or on the grass between the bleachers and the fence that forms a perimeter around the derby mud pit. Exactly 35 minutes after the derby was scheduled to begin, the bleachers will be called to their feet to listen to a recording of the national anthem. You. will. cross. your. heart. Then you will sit down and wait another 20 minutes for the first "heat" to begin... Do not ask the people who brought the Tweety Bird blanket to toss across the bleacher rows to save seats for their family members who haven't yet arrived if they're saving those seats. They are. And fuck you for asking. Now they gotta call to see where the absent family members are (they're just passing Checkers).
At this point, you'll wish you'd brought a flask or put some cans of Bud in a backpack like everyone else on the bleachers. But the $1 bottles of water will be okay, if you can step over the Tweety Bird blanket guy, who's also wearing the male version of the Fair Uniform (men: t-shirt with sleeves cut off, jeans, cowboy boots, baseball cap or no hat; women: tank top and jeans or a dress, flip flops, hair up as if you meant it to be "up" but it's actually just haphazardly up perhaps in a comb).
If you sit on the south bleachers, you'll hear the pigs in the barn behind you squealing. You'll smell them first. It's ok. They're just hungry.
The derby itself can be quite exciting. No, really. Mud flies, sometimes at the bleachers. Cars occasionally get pushed onto the concrete wall that encases the mud pit, and if too many people are sitting close to the fence that's about 8 feet away from the concrete wall, the officials will stop the derbying until no one is within arm's reach of the fence. The officials will also stop the derbying whenever a driver violates certain rules such as removing his or her helmet or when wheels come off or when cars catch fire. In many ways, it's like lifeguards blowing a whistle at the pool, except that you're in the bleachers just watching as everyone scrambles, usually to get away from a fire.
This year, the derby featured The Enforcer, an old steel police car that came out to the mud pit to make sure that everyone is scrambling enough (no driving aimlessly and not trying to hit or be hit, pussy). The Enforcer comes out with red cop lights, and it has its own soundtrack, which of course is the car-horn cover of "Dixie." During one of the 5 or so "heats," The Enforcer came out to help end a two-car battle that seemed to be going on a bit too long. The Enforcer struck the car that had the obvious advantage, which gave the other car a chance to get away and come back at a better angle. The driver of the car that The Enforcer struck turned around and made a sweeping C-curve around some incapacitated cars to t-bone The Enforcer. This breaks two rules: as in life, it's against the rules to hit cops, even if you were hit first, and it's against the rules to hit the driver's side door since that implies malicious intent to harm (etc., etc.). An official hopped into the mud pit and disqualified the driver, who then got out of his car and starting walking toward The Enforcer, whose driver had also emerged and seemed ready for a fight. Then some folks came down from the announcer's booth and also offered to start a brawl. Meanwhile, the crowd had witnessed the injustice of unwarranted police brutality and were calling for The Enforcer's head and throwing bottles and other detritus into the mud pit. Eventually, the two cars were allowed to fight it out sans Enforcer, which pleased the crowd, though the fight went on so long (roughly 45 minutes, including near-fisticuffs) that most of them left when it was done.
So, your reporter suggests that you go to next year's derby. Wear a t-shirt. Drink the $1 bottle of Hy-Vee water. Sing the national anthem. Get some mud in your face. It will be worth it to see if you can pull off the Fair Uniform, and to see if The Enforcer is back and whether the crowd will demand that it be given a Thumbs Down and an honorable death."