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A Fruitful Day in Carpinteria

"Shouldn't I be leading?" I asked my wife, as the band belted out an ambitious rendition of the Fats Domino classic: "I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill."
           
"Fuhgeddaboutit," she said, spinning me around several times, and then dancing us through a gap to the far side of the temporary parquet floor.
           
We were in front of the Guac ‘n' Roll stage at the Eighteenth Annual Avocado Festival in Carpinteria. My wife had decided maybe a little exercise was called for after I consumed six helpings from the world's largest vat of guacamole. Each year the Carpinteria High School cheerleaders try to see how many avocados they can mash into a huge dip that they sell to raise money for cheerleading events. This year they mashed something like five thousand of the things.
           
Five thousand! That's a lot of mashing!

giant avocado photo


I figure they probably use the same technique that early Santa Ynez Valley grape squashers used, but I couldn't prove it because they were inside a giant tent and I couldn't see if they all had green feet or not.
           
"They don't use their feet," my wife said, as she spun me around several times and danced us to the left.
           
"How do you know?" I asked. "And, how come I can't lead, anyway?"
           
"Because you don't understand leading," she said, as she skillfully dipped me and brought me back up, this time moving us to the right through another gap in the crowd. "It's not supposed to be a contest to see if you can constantly fool everyone, including me, into guessing which way you are going to go next."
           
"It's more fun that way. Besides, that other couple wasn't really hurt. I'll bet anything they were both limping before they even got here."
           
"Right."
           
The song ended. My wife dipped me one last time and the crowd applauded our performance, so I took a bow, then we sat down in a couple of floorside chairs.
           
"Well, that sure made me hungry," I said. "How about you?"
           
"You've had three tacos, two ears of corn, half a dozen churros and a Greek gyro. What's left?"
           
"Good question." I took out my official welcome guide and turned to the "It's All About the Food" page.
           
"Aha!" I jumped up. "Guacamole ice cream and fried Twinkies. Coming?"
           
"No. I think I'll just wait here."
           
To say it was crowded on Linden Avenue would be an understatement. The Avocado Festival gets bigger each year and this year the attendance was supposed to top one hundred thousand. The Festival offers three different entertainment stages, an everything-you-could-possibly-want-to-know-about-avocados-and-then-some tent, plus dozens of food and activity booths. They even had avocado miniature golfing, but I always look foolish enough trying to get something round to roll straight so I didn't try it.
           
Add to that the fact that many avid guacamole lovers -- like me -- tend to be somewhat overweight to the point of actually looking like an avocado in some cases. Plus, most people are busy reading all the food signs instead of watching where they are going, which creates a potentially dangerous situation.
           
"Ahhh, Umphf."
           
I righted myself, then grabbed the white gloved hand and pulled.
           
"Sorry," I said.
           
Mr. Avocado stood, straightened his huge sunglasses and yellow cap, brushed off his smooth green skin, and held up three fingers.
           
"Third time someone's knocked you down today?" I asked.
           
He nodded.
           
Then he pinched me and held up eight fingers, slapped me in the butt and held up ten fingers.
           
He looked around, then he whispered: "You don't even want to know how many times some kid has tried to shove their hand down my throat."
           
"Wow. Do you even get to eat?"
           
He shook his head sadly.
           
I wanted to run right over and buy him an avocado shrimp cocktail or a sticky funnel cake or something, but before I could offer, several kids came up to him and started poking and prodding, so I headed back to Guac ‘n' Roll stage.
           
"What's up next?" I asked my wife.
           
"A blues band," she said.
           
"Blues! Cool, I love the blues." I started dancing a bit to show her my moves.

She took out her wallet and gave me ten bucks. "Try the taquitos," she said.