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I don’t know why I keep thinking craft fairs are a good idea.  They never end well for me.  I go into them, all high-hopes and anticipating the mad moniez I’m going to make, and pretty much every time, I emerge a sadder, but apparently not wiser girl.  I think this latest craft fair, though, should win some sort of prize for sheer sadistic cruelty.  And I didn’t even get the worst of it.  Listen, my friends, and learn from my sad example.

To start with, we were all tired.  Ani and I had just finished pulling off our first ever Mystery Dinner (a resounding success, if I do say so myself), and between the party and cleaning up from the party, hadn’t slept much the night before.  We were lucky that at least we got some sleep – Indy stayed up all night working on things to sell.  So none of us were moving very quickly, or were very organized as we got ready, and we ended up getting out the door about an hour late.  Still, we were on our way.

We got to the street fair about an hour late, checked in with the organizer, and looked around at the open booth spaces left.  There was one kinda hidden between two larger booths, and another that looked like it was in a prime spot – on a corner, right next to the DJ, right where crowds were sure to gather to watch the performances.  We couldn’t believe our luck, and hurried to grab the spot right away.  As soon as we had everything set up, however, and had a moment to pay attention to our surroundings, we noticed a certain… odor, shall we say.  It seems that there was a reason why no one had claimed that spot: it was right by the sewer drain.  Still, the day was nice, there were lots of people meandering around.  We were thinking positive.

It was early in the afternoon, and the sun was beating down pretty hard, so as soon as Indy and I got a moment, we applied sunblock, using the brand new bottle of aerosol sunscreen I bought for just this occasion.  I knew that I was already sunburned a little on my driving arm from the drive down (I’ve got a gorgeous driver’s tan going this summer – everyone I know is totally envious), and maybe on my face as well, but I hoped that it wasn’t that bad.  The sunblock, at least, would stop any burning in its tracks.   However, soon after I applied the sunscreen to my face, my cheeks, already stinging a little with incipient sunburn, started seriously burning.  It felt like there was acid on my skin.  I wanted to go wash my face off, but I was afraid of my skin getting burnt further.  I set myself to ignore it, telling myself that it would go away.

Meanwhile, the pretty display I had figured out for my garlands was backfiring.  I had planned on using branches, anchored in plain vases filled with rock salt, to drape my pretty garlands on, showing off all their delicate beauty.  Unfortunately, the vases with the branches were fantastically top-heavy.  Every time the slightest breeze came along, they started toppling over, dumping branches on top of the careful displays of pretty things Indy had arranged on the table, scattering rock salt everywhere.  Time and again we righted the vases, cleaned up the rock salt, and rearranged the merchandise.  Finally one of the vases managed to not only fall, but roll off the table to smash on the pavement.  That was the end of that display, though I managed to wedge the other set of branches a little more securely, and they didn’t give us any more trouble.

So there we were, sitting in a line out in the blazing sun: Ani with her easel promoting her portrait painting service, Indy next stitching away on the incredibly beautiful appliqued quilt she’s been laboring over for months to give to Hello Nurse’s firstborn daughter-to-be, and me, trying to sew a felt bird while making occasional frantic grabs for the vases to stop them toppling over, my face stinging like crazy, hoping that it doesn’t look as bad as it feels, and no one’s getting scared off by the red-faced, vase-grabbing woman.  And not one of us was selling a single thing.  Nothing.  People would come by, sometimes even stop and look at stuff, and then just go away again.  Of course, looking at the other vendors, it seemed like the only guy doing any business was the frozen lemonade man down the street, but still.  It’s not like we’re doing these events for our health.  If only someone would buy something…

Right about the three hour mark, I finally made a sale: 4 garlands to a sweet woman who told me all about who she was giving each one to.  By that point I was so used to people looking and then going away that I almost didn’t realize what was happening when she went to hand me money.  Or that might have been my state of slight brain-addled-ness from spending three hours on a sea of blacktop being slowly roasted by the sun.  I ended up making one more sale, bringing my total up to just enough to cover my costs plus a profit of exactly $2.50.  The other girls didn’t sell anything at all.

By four o’clock, we had pretty much had it.  Our brains had melted, our skin was fried, and we were tired.  As  we got up to get ready to leave, Ani noticed something.  It seems that when Indy and I applied sunblock at the beginning of the afternoon, the aerosol didn’t cover quite as much skin as we thought.  Indy now has angry, blistering red sunburn in very sharp geometric shapes on her arms.  I applied a bit more, which means that it  puddled and dripped, resulting in an effect rather like my skin is dripping off.  (Very attractive, I assure you.)

The total topper to all this, the cherry on top, the plum in the pudding is this: remember that quilt Indy was working on?  The one she’s been slaving over for months?  The one to which she’s been painstakingly appliqueing hundreds (ok, maybe just lots) of lovingly individually cut out fabric roses?  The one that’s destined for the much-anticipated first child of her very dear friend?  That quilt?  As we were packing up our things to go, Indy spilled coffee all over it.

You know what kills me?  I’m probably going to do it again.  I’ll tell myself that next time I’ll anchor my display better, get a spot on the shady side of the street, apply sunscreen more thoroughly, have a bigger display, arrive early enough to get a good spot and stay the entire time, and then surely, without a doubt, I’ll be a success.  I’ll sell so much stuff I won’t only cover my expenses, but make enough to justify those days and days beforehand spent getting ready.  It will be wonderful, and it’s all going to happen… next time.

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