A long, long time ago I was a young boy growing up on the West Coast. My family wasn’t rich, it wasn’t even stable, but once in a while we’d go out and do fun things. There was a park nearby that I loved. I had a crush on my tall and voluptuous babysitter, who proved tolerant to having her toes and feet played with while she zoned out to whatever was on TV. Once in a while we’d even go out, as a family, to a seasonal rodeo or itinerant traveling carnival.
These carnivals weren’t very much. There would be a small Ferris wheel built out of steel tubes like glorified playground monkey-bars, its apex maybe twice the height of an adult. There would be a tame little roller coaster, likely called the Mad Mouse, that jerked children around at right angles but never went very fast or very high off the ground. Always there was the selection of midway games, staffed by adults who looked like they’d been dealt the worst hand in life. They were angry and tired, and they glared at you with expectation, resentful that you were shirking your duties by not playing their rigged games. Who did you think you were, after all?
The entire assemblage looked shoddy and cheap in the daylight. Even I, as a small and unworldly child, could sense that these booths, games, and rides were designed to be taken down quickly and travel in small compartments over long distances. I got that. But when evening descended and gave way to night, if we were lucky to stay out late, everything became much more magical. Everywhere, there were glowing bulbs of all colors, large egg-shaped bulbs with bold, thick filaments burning within them. The colors were pure and alluring, and the light they cast hid the rust and dents and grease, and the environment took on a supernatural sheen. Even the workers seemed to liven up around evening, their calls a little more playful, their plaintive demands giving way to jokes and compliments. The scent of caramel popcorn covered up the straw and manure. Couples grinned at each other and held hands, linked arms, hugged more often. Parents became a little more childish and kids felt more possibilities blossom around them.
Freak shows were a staple of traveling circuses and carnivals but they were on their way out back then, if not due to morality then by economics. Maybe you wouldn’t find someone with a congenital deformity here, but there was nothing amiss with a contortionist, a balancing/juggling act, even some sword-swallowing and fire-breathing, if you were lucky. My parents didn’t feel any need to front a buck to see their performances, but you could catch a little of them hawking for the next show as you walked by. The grounds were a huge circuit: wade through the children’s rides, squeeze through the food vendors, avert your gaze through the midway games, and stare at anything that could be seen around the performances and curiosities, before looping back and doing it all in reverse order.
During one such trip, I remember, there was a trailer without a stage in front. It bore a mural and a door, and the mural suggested what you could find if you went through the door. Pretty straightforward marketing. Other pictures on other trailers showed adults in states of terror or ecstasy, for various roller coasters and rides, and some trailers were painted up to emphasize the performances. This trailer only had a large mural that spoke for itself, no one standing outside to call attention or escort anyone in.
It featured a not-unskilled painting of men and women in an audience, the backs and sides of their heads turned toward the viewer. They were staring in amazement at a stage with little brass footlights, which shone up to illuminate the performer before thick, red velvet curtains. The performer in question was a woman lying on her side, scantily clad in an uninformed American’s idea of exotic Egyptian lingerie. She had sharp black bangs, racy ’60s makeup, gold jewelry and a gauzy bikini inspired by I Dream of Jeannie.
Most importantly, the woman was portrayed as taking up the entire stage. Lying down, she was still several times larger and longer than anyone in the audience.
At this point I had already watched Attack of the 50′ Woman and Village of the Giants, and these spoke directly to my soul. I was already responsive to exceptionally tall women. I’d dreamed of my neighbor’s older sister as a giantess, and I’d dreamed of scaling the frilly dress of a titanic Marie Osmond in her “Perils of Marie” outfit, rewarded by ruby-red smooches when I crested her shoulder. Not even in third grade, I already walked with one foot in a world of sexual giantesses seeking tiny men to play with.
And now I was at a transformed carnival, everything made lovely and pleasant, standing before a trailer in which was housed the only giantess in the world. My eyes went huge as I stared, struggling to accept that such a thing was possible, while simultaneously craving it with every fiber of my juvenile being. There was a giantess! Giantesses were real! One was here, in my town, in a trailer a few yards away from me, if I interpreted this mural correctly!
If I walked through that door, I would be in the presence of a giantess. I would feel the heat from her body as she lounged around, needing to do nothing but exist for her adoring audience. Or maybe she would notice me, and maybe she would smile and reach out to scoop me up in her soft and padded palms, and maybe she would chase everyone else out of the trailer, announce all shows over for the night, and lock the door…
But first I needed to get in there. Wonder and lust immediately gave way to stark awareness of my age and stature. I had no money, and I was held fast by my mother’s hand. My parents didn’t look twice at the trailer, gawking around at everything else in the world: as dreamily as they wandered toward the travel home of the giantess, so too did they stumble away from it.
My tiny heart pounded against my ribs. My dream was there, it was real, and we were walking away from it. How could I possibly explain this to my parents, two adults who at odd turns took up a strangely protective stance that kept me barred from other fun events and objects? Surely they would sense the intensity of my desire, and beyond all reason, that alone would compel them to arbitrarily forbid me from whatever it was that might give me joy. What excuse could I come up with? Because there was no way in the world I could explain to them, quickly or at length and in detail, what a giantess meant to me and why I needed to be with one. Or I could explain it and, again, that would only reinforce their conviction that I should be kept apart from one at all costs.
Feebly I tugged at the hand that held me. I stammered that there was something interesting over there and we should see it. The response to this was a distracted “uh-huh”—my parents were young, in their mid-20s, with little patience for annoying little kids—as I was tugged away from the sideshow and back to the midway. Back to my stupid, mundane, empty existence.
My tiny body was overwhelmed with too many conflicting emotions and swirling thoughts, so I probably went numb like a wildebeest in a death trance, trudging wherever I was led. I did look back and stare at the trailer, trying to memorize the mural, perhaps trying to stare through the corrugated steel walls or maybe catch an errant, over-sized hand brushing past the open doorway. No such luck.
I’m sure I cried myself to sleep that night. I was so close to a real dream, a living dream. There was a giantess in my little town and I nearly met her. But who knows what was really in that trailer? Was it an unusually tall woman? Was it just a sexy belly dancer, was the mural nothing more than hyperbole, creative license? Perhaps I had misunderstood the entire thing and it was just an illustration to fill a gap between booths, representing nothing at all. I was a precocious little boy prone to wild imagination, after all.