Have you ever seen or heard of that website called something like the People of Wal-Mart? If you have email and you have friends, you probably have at least heard of it. Supposedly, the website features pictures of real, actual Wal-Mart customers - from all over the country, I presume - wearing some of the most outrageous and ridiculous outfits. These outrageous outfits are pitched as the person's "regular" attire. Frankly, I'm not certain if I believe the photos are what they claim to be, but I can tell you this: Every time the "People of Wal-Mart" email - sent from a well-intentioned friend or sometimes (gasp!) my own mother - lands in my inbox I can't help myself. I know it's going to be awful. I know I'm going to cringe. I know I am going to make derisive comments and be all judgmental and stuff. But I do it anyway. It's like a car accident; you know you don't really want to see the carnage but you slow traffic to rubberneck anyway. Thankfully, I haven't received an "updated" email in about a month or so because that last one? Nauseating. No, really.
The greater Sacramento area has several Wal-Marts; I can think of about 8 off the top of my head. Some are nicer than others. I live in a southern suburb of Sacramento, and our Wal-Mart is t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e. I don't even like to go in there, but alas, it is close so sometimes I do. A little north from me - literally, maybe 5 miles north - is a new one in an area that is being refurbished, and it's pretty decent (though it may not last because the neighborhood just really isn't recovering). In the next county to the west, the border city opened one of those Super Wal-Mart megastores about two years ago. There's another big one in the heart of the Sacramento area that is big enough to have its own elevator. I have been to every single one of these stores at one time or another, on different days of the week, and at different times of the day and night, and I can tell you one thing for sure: the "People of Wal-Mart" featured on the website and in the emails do NOT shop at Sacramento Wal-Marts. For example, I have never seen a size 24 woman stuffed into a size 6 hot pink romper. I have never seen butt crack (though I've seen plenty of boxer shorts peeking out of pants belted mid-thigh). I have never seen hair so long it drags on the floor. I have never seen children being dragged on the floor behind the cart. I guess that's why I'm skeptical about the authenticity of the website and the emails.
Sacramento hosts the California State Fair each year, which is humongous and full of all kinds of folks, some of whom travel the entire length of the state to get there. It is at the State Fair each summer where I see what I think of as the People of Wal-Mart, wearing ill-fitting clothes, showing too much (overweight and butt-white) skin, swearing a blue streak, and stuffing their faces with fried Twinkies and fried Snickers Bars. (Yep, they deep fry ANYTHING at the California State Fair.) In their defense, California hosts the State Fair in late August and through the Labor Day weekend, which, if you've ever spent a summer here, you know is MISERABLY HOT. I get why people try to get away with as little clothing as possible, but seriously, do they not look in the mirror before they leave the house? Even though these People of Wal-Mart populate the State Fair, I have never thought they populated Sacramento because I've never seen them.
Everything changed yesterday. I took my boys to the Sacramento County Fair. It's small and just like any other county fair: 4-H livestock and farm animals, photography and science project contests, displays, carnival rides, exhibitions and shows, and deep fried food. I always refer to it as a "shrinky-dink" version of the State Fair. The significant difference (other than shear magnitude) is that the county fair is really only populated by Sacramento-area people. We might get a few out of county people, but not many, because it's not really publicized and is just a "local" thing.
So imagine my surprise when I noticed the People of Wal-Mart walking around the fairgrounds! I saw some really interesting fashion configurations yesterday. One woman was wearing black zebra-striped stretch pants - at least two sizes too small - with a fringey black top and kitten heels. Really? I don't know what she was thinking. It might have made sense if she were there with a man on a hot date, but she was there with her little kids. It was so hot her heavily made-up face was melting. I saw a man with a beard so long that he literally tied it in a bow below his chin. Seriously. One woman and her "man" - dressed in black biker-type gear - were so drunk at NOON and so loud that their pre-teen children kept trying to get away from them. The mom kept slurring "guysh, wait for me. Wasyer hurry? I jes needa getta more beer." The children - boys about 12 or 13 - looked like they just wanted to die. The piece de resistance, though, was the very large man whose shorts and shirt were so small that he looked like Borat in his mankini. It was NOT pretty.
I guess the People of Wal-Mart do live in Sacramento. They just don't shop at Wal-Mart.
(I wonder if I should start a website called The People of Fairs and Festivals. That might be fun. Not.)