Levi was a core member of our pre-Apocalypse gang, the group of friends we called the “County Fair.” The name was coined when Levi groused about how impossible it was ever to invite someone new to dinner, because first one had to invite all of us and that left no empty seats at that table. He had the same problem with our weekend excursions to flea markets—once our crew piled in the car, no one else could fit. His rant on the subject ended with the declaration, “I can’t go anywhere without inviting an entire county fair.”
The name “County Fair” stuck. There were four mainstays: Levi, Eve, Dingo, and me. We were in our twenties and early thirties, so accompanying us were boyfriends and girlfriends and the occasional visiting parent, which quickly swelled the numbers of participants at any given social event. We lived in Wicker Park apartments and drove small cars, which meant none of our dining tables seated more than eight, and none of our vehicles had room for seven. Levi had a valid point—the County Fair’s existence made incorporating anyone new a genuine challenge.
(I, for one, didn’t try very hard. In my opinion, eight is an optimal population for a close tribe. The County Fair suited me.)
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.