Oh CNE, through barfing, scarfing and THE DROP ZONE!! Thanks to you!!

When George asked me last night, “Remember that time, when you stayed with me in Edmonton…when I was working at Stage West…and we booked a night at the West Edmonton Mall in the themed hotel…in the Roman Room…and we went to the Roller Coaster…and you had to go on yourself…because I am afraid of heights…and there was another guy standing with my while you went on the ride…and he asked me why I was standing alone…and I told him my new girlfriend was on the roller coaster alone because of my fear of heights…and that guy said…WELL, THAT’S IT! YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS OVER!”…Baby, do you remember that guy?”


No, I don’t.

My husband has a mind like a steel trap…NOTHING and I mean NOTHING, gets out.

But me, I have always lived things, then…mostly…developed a sketchy memory of it.

But August into September? The labour day weekend…is a time of my life I never forget.

It is STILL summer in Canada…mostly.

You ARE mad to fit the rest of the summer fun in before fall comes…early or late…that bitch ALWAYS shows up…and then gets all angry and turns into winter…you guys know how I feel about Mother Nature and her tricks and moods…and, just generally, her SHIT.

Now, and excuse the earlier potty mouth, but because you are mad to fit in the most summer fun you can…amazing things happen…

I remember almost every single time my mother took me to the EX. Sometimes just me and her. Sometimes me and my gramma and my sister. And then again, me and her.

We would drive to the hotel that is now either condos, or knocked down to turn into condos, right where Lakeshore turns into the QEW…it was where “His Majesty’s Feast” was…well, we stayed there WELL before that happened. My mom would somehow find the money to get a hotel room for all of us, and then we would take the street car into the EX. And then, when time moved forward with transit, we would take the GO train from Hamilton. Mom would let us stay till all hours. We would play the Birthday Game…and some years we were luckier than others, just like in real life…but my Mom would keep would always keep digging in her purse. One year, when it was just her and I, her wallet got stolen on the midway. I cannot remember how we got home…but we got back on the Go Train somehow…and since that experience I have always, ALWAYS, held my purse very tightly when I went to the CNE…and made sure I packed everything in my purse in such a way that it left the money in a different compartment from my wallet. Funny, huh? This girl always tries to learn from adverse experiences.

And our trip to the EX was always built around seeing a concert at the Grand Stand…remember THAT place? Rickety, dodgy and old school, the CNE Grand Stand. Mom took me to see concerts by the Osmond Brothers, Donny and Marie, Shaun Cassidy, then Micheal Jackson and his brothers on the Victory Tour. I remember sitting in our seats and then losing our shit as the white limo, with tinted windows, drove across the field, filled with whatever act was performing to get them to the stage. I would scream all the way through the show…my mom would put cotton in her ears…and then I would weep all the way home about how much I loved them. Those concerts were my first brush with stars…and, god what is the word? Fame… fortune…and BIG WIDE dreams…I loved those concerts…they were so bittersweet…fleeting.

I appreciate so much that my mom took us to the CNE. Took me.

Oh, I specifically loved the Primo Spagetti for 99 cents.

When I got older I barely went to the CNE…every few years George and I would go if we were in town…one year we went with my pal, Vicki, and at the end of the night we went on the Tilt-A-Whirl (a ride that my other pal, Karen, calls the Tilt-A-Hurl) and after that ride, I walked off, puked in the nearest garbage bin and then again a couple of times on the way home. I never went on a round and round, spin and spin ride since.

It just seemed prudent when it came to the joy and longevity of a midway visit.

BUT then about 10 years ago, my friend Thom planned a visit for a bunch of friends to go the the CNE. Thom is a wonderful planner of things like this…this…secret santa…you name it. And what ensued was one of the best days EVER. WE stayed for hours…we rode rides…we played games…we laughed…we won prizes…we ate…we played Skee Ball..we ate…and a wonderful time was had by all.

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CNE 2009

This was a collage of shots from that first group visit about six years ago! Food building with Thom, Bill and George…group shot at the end of the night with Scott, myself, Thom, George and Justin…me ride the Drop Zone!…and a picture I COULD not resist taking. LORD, I respected the way this woman got herself dressed up for the EX! Right!?!?!

After that year, and for the next three years, we were in Scotland and then London during the EX, so we MISSED it! But then we went again in 2013…and MAGIC. Always magic. Don’t you love tradition.

I remember when I was little and went with my mom, I would dream of the day I would go with a big group of friends…but with theatre…it is so strange…I never really was a part of a really big group of pals like that. I have attended events with casts…as ensembles…been a part of wonderful groups outings on tour…I have gone with dear friends in smaller groups..but never with a really big group of friends. Specific I know…but hey…I got dreams…

This year, Thom sent out the annual email, proposing some dates for the CNE visit…and though we have been wrapping a lot of projects up so we can go to Montreal…I really wanted to make it. And make it we did.

It was the best CNE visit ever. Our group had at least 13 people in it…13 PEOPLE!!

We walked the midway…we ate chicken sticks…we people watched…and one of my have parts was when we took over a whole game together. I know it sounds so silly…but it was just…well, just the best.

I ride that friggen Drop Zone…just like I did before…and NO ONE went with me…a guy in the line asked me if I was alone…I said, “see those 11 people over there? they are with me and they are too afraid to go on this….” Then I had this moment where I was at the top of the Drop Zone…the very top when I was looking over the park…SO AWESOME…and I thought, “I had an EKG a couple of weeks ago…so I should be fine, right? Fuck it…” and then I dropped one million feet. It was magic…I laughed and laughed till I peed a bit…let us be frank.



As twilight came on…I was drinking a purple slushy when I took this….
Just to be a part of that day was such a great joy…I kept saying all the way home to myself, “Wasn’t that the best EX ever? Wasn’t it?” Like a 6 year old.


The next day I woke up and my knee hurt…my back hurt…and I laughed as I made my way downstairs, and George asked me what was so funny…I said, “well, summer is almost over again…and you know how I hate THAT and I am going to be fucking 47 in a couple weeks…and I will never be Beyoncé…BUT I had the best day at the EX ever yesterday…so that has to count for something, RIGHT!?!?”

He says, “RIGHT.”


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The best prize I have EVER won at the EX.



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