The word “concession” can be defined as “something agreed to, usually grudgingly, as an acknowledgement of defeat.” How appropriate, then, that I was tapped to help operate a concession stand at my daughter’s recent hunt-seat equestrian show. (Apparently, horse show audiences don’t mind their nachos seasoned with a hint of manure.) Concession stand work is a common fate of parents whose children seem devoted to hijacking every possible weekend on the calendar with expensive sporting activities, and I think the show organizers figured the concession stand was where I could inflict the least amount of damage. Besides, it would give me something to do in the hours before and after my daughter’s rides, other than timing myself to see how long I could avoid using the portable toilet.
Now, my idea of a concession stand consists of some Skittles, Slim Jims, and (if you want to be really elaborate) some generic corn chips dribbled with melted cheese product. However, my fellow “voluntolds” had more grandiose ideas. We would be offering barbeque sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, pickles, pretzels, nachos, candy, chips, muffins, breakfast-biscuit sandwiches, hot chocolate, coffee, and soft drinks. After seeing the menu plans, I wondered why we didn’t just go ahead and whip up some beluga caviar and foie gras (French for “I can’t believe you’re really going to eat that part of a duck.”)
To supply the concession stand, we met a few days before the show at Sam’s Club (which is like a Walmart suffering from a hording disorder). I’ve never joined Sam’s, Costco, or any other wholesale club, because I rarely feel the urge to buy a 50-gallon drum of peanut butter. I soon found out why Sam’s is so popular, though. For $45 a year, you can wander around bulk pallets of Q-tips and Vienna Sausages, and take enough food samples from the friendly ladies stationed at the end of every aisle to go on a Pepperidge Farm feeding frenzy.
When the day of the show arrived, we were instructed to be at the venue by the revolting hour of 5:45 AM. (I’m pretty sure selling processed foods at that time of day violates at least one international treaty.) Even though I explained to my fellow workers that nobody eats breakfast before noon on the weekend, we quickly unloaded our provisions, set up our menu and began heating breakfast sandwiches.
In an attempt to make myself useful, I decided to investigate the barbeque pit so that I could put my manly grilling skills to work when it was time for lunch. I was surprised to see that the homemade cooker was not at all like mine at home. In fact, it was composed of two rusty steel bathtubs hinged together (I think there were still rings around the insides), and after I spent about five minutes looking for the automatic starter button, my wife gently led me away from the grill and back to my station at the pickle jar.
My greatest success of the day came when we ran out of hamburger buns and I used one of my mother’s old culinary tricks by placing a hamburger patty on two modified hot dog buns. I called it the “Hot Mommer”–in her honor. For some reason, it never really took off like I’d hoped, and after I was caught scratching my back with the pickle tongs, I was demoted to parking lot attendant.
To compound my discomfort, I was also forced to witness my two older daughters interacting with members of the hairy-legged teenager species. At some point in the last few months, boys ceased to be “icky” and “stinky,” except their dad, who is not only icky and stinky, but also a complete embarrassment to all living organisms, especially when what qualifies as a cute adolescent male is within a 50-mile radius. Luckily, my youngest daughter is still able to tolerate me, and she even occasionally sits on my lap as I assure her that she, too, can have a boyfriend someday–specifically, the day after my funeral.
Once the show was over, we were all exhausted and, ironically, starving. My hunger pangs were only somewhat eased by the sense of satisfaction I felt from taking a slightly incompetent part in one of my daughter’s activities. Luckily, Sam’s was a few short minutes away, and I had an appointment with some sample servers and the Pepperidge Farm Corporation.
Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&M Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate and his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.