“It’s hard to frown when you make someone else smile.”
As a kid I remember nailing the dunk tank with a fast ball, but it didn’t go. The guy sitting there just looked around and avoided eye contact like he didn’t see anything — like he wouldn’t be paying attention. The lady said, “Oh, almost.”
“What do you mean? I pegged it.”
“You have two more tries.” She smiled until I looked away. I missed the next one bad, but I nailed my last attempt, however the guy still didn’t dunk. I threw my hands up. The lady couldn’t smile her way out of it this time. She let me walk up and press the stubborn red knob, kind of like a friendly execution. The man put on his goggles and braced himself with a dry swallow. I looked straight at him, the serendipity of success washed from my face by the bureaucracy of the carnival dunk tank, and watched him fall.