I spent this weekend at the NYS Fair in Syracuse, NY. Specifically I spent most of my time in the goat barn. As crazy as this sounds it is the site of some of my best memories as a teenager. From the age of 13 up I went to the NYS Fair every summer to show my goats and participate in the 4-H Youth activities there.
1988 was my most memorable year - I had made some very good friends and we all hung out together in a gang of sorts. We spent hours playing Pictionary in an empty stall or out in the aisles. We spent hours preparing for all the competitions, showmanship, confirmation classes. judging contest, and more. If you weren't a farm kid none of this will make sense to you but it was fun.
My closest friend there was Dan, he was also my biggest competition for the coveted showmanship trophy. He and I worked hard together to get ready but once we were in the ring for showmanship all bets were off. In 1988 I was 18 years old and had just graduated from high school. Dan was 19 and had just finished his first year at Cornell, it was his last year to compete in 4-H (because they use age as of Jan 1 to calculate eligibility). He wanted to win so bad he couldn't stand it. He had tried his hardest for several years and had several 2nd place finishes to show for it. He was sure this was his year to get his name engraved on that trophy.
The class began and friendships became secondary as we all went out there with one goal in mind - WIN THAT TROPHY!!!! It was a long class, with 20+ kids entered it took several hours to sort us all out and for the judge to make their decision. At the end of this long and grueling process when the judge is starting to make his placings he points to me for 1st place and my heart leaps for joy. And for 2nd place - AGAIN - for the 3rd year in a row, my best friend Dan. He was a gracious loser, he congratulated me heartily and he meant it. He kept his disappointment at bay and let me enjoy my win. He was the best kind of friend.
Since that day - for the past 20 years Dan has worked at the NYS Fair with the youth program. For many of those years he's been in charge of the program. I became a licensed judge and first in 2006 and again this year in 2009 Dan has hired me to be the judge for the youth show at the NYS Fair Goat Show.
On Saturday we were reminiscing about the good old days. Admiring the showmanship trophy which is still in circulation and has an engraved plate that lists my name and the year 1988 on it. Dan says to me "you know what I regret about those days?" and he had planned to go on and say something nice it was obvious but I threw out a one liner that had everyone around saying "good one" - I said "that you never got your name on that trophy?" and he was speechless. I feel a tiny bit bad but not too bad because that is the kind of relationship we've always had Dan & I. His wife loved what I said and high fived me.
What he had been planning to say was that he regretted not getting to know me sooner...
Awwww - I feel like a shit. :( but maybe not for long.
It felt like old times again, me and Dan trading one liners. All was right in my world for a few minutes and we were 18 and 19 again.