Digging through closets for games and equipment for the church festival her first year as the festival coordinator, Sharon pulled out a cotton candy machine and a bag of mostly unused cotton candy sugar. She had no idea how to use it, and the people who might know how to use it were not there.
She indicated the machine to a couple guys and asked them to move it to the festival area. “I think someone who knows how to use it will be here after a while.”
“Aww, we can figure it out.” The guys confidently picked up the unit, carried it outside, assembled the parts as best they could and turned on the machine.
Wisps of cotton candy blew up and around their heads and scattered across the parking lot. “It looked like they had blown pink insulation around,” Sharon laughed.
“I don't think that's right,” she told them. “I think that wire mesh goes on the inside, not the outside.”
The guys did not agree. “It's a bit windy out here. We just need to get it under control. Maybe we need to bring the drum surround out to stop the cotton candy. We are not bringing that out here and messing it up. I think the mesh goes on the inside.”
The guys did not agree. Cotton candy continued to fly everywhere. They only had a couple sticks of cotton candy ready for the horde of kids expected within the hour. The guys continued to twist the sticks as cotton candy settled on their heads, faces and clothes.
Finally, Sharon said, “Stop a minute. Let's find a YouTube video.”
They turned off the machine, found a YouTube video and studied it. The mesh did go on the inside of the bowl of the cotton candy machine.
They switched the mesh. The machine worked much better. They began making cotton candy, and this time, it mostly stayed inside the big bowl. Some still floated to their arms and coats and up to the sky. The men began making bags of cotton candy for the kids as Sharon left to check on other preparations.
She returned to find a heap of bags of cotton candy.
“I don't think we need anymore. You guys can stop,” she said.
“Aww, but they might need more,” said a masculine voice beneath the wisps of cotton candy covering his hair, his eyebrows and the sleeves of his coat.
The guys did not want to stop. Nor did they seem to want to give cotton candy to any of the children from their stockpile of bags stuffed in coolers and tubs and heaped on the table.
Finally, an hour or so into the festival, she insisted, “I think we have enough.”
It took the guys a minute to realize they could turn off the machine and should start passing out cotton candy. They handed it all out. They would have happily made more but the festival ended.
“They had just enough cotton candy for the kids that night,” Sharon said.
One of the cotton candy-making men had arrived wearing a cowboy hat that had slowly changed into a pink fur-lined hat — perfect for Mardi Gras,
The two went inside to clean up. Even though they cleaned off mounds of cotton candy, they came out with cotton candy still clinging to their shoulders and elbows.
Jacob, Sharon's husband, motioned for one of the men to come to him. Jacob shook his hand, leaned over, licked his sleeve and said, “You are so sweet. Thank you.”
Joan Hershberger is a retired journalist who lives in Parkers Chapel just south of El Dorado.