Physically speaking, I won't be in Saranac Lake for the Winter Carnival coronation this year. I won't be there spiritually speaking, either, because being there spiritually speaking but not physically speaking would involve my spirit vacating my body - and my spirit vacating my body would involve me ingesting huge quantities of electric Kool-Aid and listening to Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon."
Some people might call me a "square" for saying this, but I have far too much respect for my brain to subject it to the vile poison that is Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon." (I've read that if you listen to that unholy album even once, you'll suffer from terrifying flashbacks for the rest of your life.)
Anyway, the main reason I'm missing coronation is that I'm stranded in an ice-coated yet inexplicably Ice-Palace-free Midwestern metropolis. Sure, I'm flying home next weekend - for the parade and Double Axel - but what am I supposed to do until then? Construct a lovingly detailed, scale-model replica of Saranac Lake in a barren field, recruit hundreds of local actors to play Saranac Lakers, and stage an alternative Winter Carnival (adhering violently to the real Carnival's schedule)? Nope - tried it last year and it was a logistical nightmare. Also, three people lost thumbs and I spent eight weeks in county jail.
Besides, you can't seriously recreate Winter Carnival with a bunch of flatlanders. It's hard to believe, I know, but most Midwesterners have never even heard of NBT Bank, let alone the NBT Bank Ladies Frying Pan Toss.
What's worse, the goons at the Midwestern Division of Time Warner Conglomerated Cable Industries Incorporated refuse to carry Saranac Lake public access, no matter how often I shatter their office windows with rocks in the dead of night (it occurs to me now that I might consider attaching a note listing my demands to the rock next time). In other words, I can't even see the king and queen get crowned on TV.
But from whence does this ludicrous devotion of mine to Winter Carnival spring? Well, to answer that question, we need to hop into our metaphorical DeLorean, fire up our metaphorical flux capacitor, and travel all the way back to 1992.
I was in third grade that year and, as punishment for being an insufferable goody two-shoes, a panel of judges sentenced me to serve as a page on the Carnival court.
Now, in those days, we pages were spared the indignity of doing a song-and-dance number for the amusement of our cruel, sadistic elders. All we had to do was wear red capes and berets - a great enough indignity - sit around looking cute, and peg hard candies at people's faces from the lofty heights of the royal float during the Gala Parade.
All kidding aside, serving as a page was actually what Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver might call a "swell deal." For instance, we got front-row seats at the Rotary Club Variety Show - and if I remember correctly, I even got pulled onstage against my will to participate in a mean-spirited magic trick that earned big laughs at my expense.
But the best part of being a page was getting to sit on stage during the coronation. Seeing all the hoopla up close instilled in me a lifelong love of seeing hoopla, both up close and from a distance. Indeed, watching the king and queen crowned mere feet in front of me was so exciting that - according to my mom, at least - I spent most of the coronation talking to myself, my lips flapping silently, as if I were an old man who'd forgotten to put in his dentures.
I don't have a clue what I was saying to myself, but that's not the interesting part. The interesting part (at least to me) is that I either didn't realize I was talking to myself while sitting on a stage in front of hundreds of people, or I didn't care - I was utterly engaged in the events unfolding before me. And perhaps that explains why I'm still drawn to the coronation every year: because I want to recreate that giddy sense of unselfconscious excitement.
Or maybe - and, now that I think of it, this seems more likely - I just hope to catch some other little kid babbling to himself onstage. Why? In order to assure myself that I wasn't a total weirdo, perhaps - but mostly, methinks, for my own cruel, sadistic amusement.
Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.