The North American Hypernormal and Pararegular Fair is put on every total-eclipse-of-the-sun for the five days leading up to the eclipse and the day of the eclipse. It is a time when the enthusiasts of the hypernormal and pararegular communities come together to celebrate the blotting out of the bright spot in the sky called the “Sun” by the Frisbee-of-cheese-like spot in the sky called the “Moon.”
This is a tradition that dates back to the European total solar eclipse in 1961, when the two communities decided to set aside their differences and come together to form a stronger coalition against the paranormal community.
At that time it had become clear that the so-called paranormal community would completely shadow both the hypernormal and pararegular communities. It was causing the few who do hear of the communities to instantly form misconceptions, which was perhaps the worst part of all.
“We just want everyone to know how normal we are,” said two young women named Jessica, amongst attenders on the first day of the fair. They wore identical “hypernormal” tea-shirts, tight pony tails, pink laced sneakers, and gray sweat-pant-legging-things.
“You could almost be identical twins!” I told them.
“Identical twins would be more pararegular actually, we just look a lot alike because we’re both so normal.”
“Okay. So, this is something we’re all a bit confused about that we’d like to get straightened out here today. Do you believe in ghosts, Jessicas?”
“Well,” they started, taking turns with each sentence in voices so identical I could not tell which sentence came from which person. “That is often a tricky question, but by most polls it is actually true that it is normal to believe in the existence of some kind of afterlife spirits, but to be honest we don’t believe in anything more specific than that.”
“Okay, so have you seen a ghost?” I asked curiously.
“Oh, heavens no!” Jessicas said. “That would be unbearably unusual.”
I finally noticed a difference in their appearance and said, “honestly, the only way I can tell you apart is that she has a freckle on her temple,” gesturing to the young lady on my left.
As she began to blush Jessica hugged her, covering her face, and turned her head to me to say “you don’t have to point out her abnormal quality! Do you want me to start telling you everything that is abnormal about you!?”
In another section of the fair, on the evening of the first night, I enjoyed a meal with Rond, the proprietor of the pararegular half of the fair.
“[The worst part] of all this is that since paranormal basically means totally not normal, everyone assumes that pararegular means totally not normal, but we’re not using the para prefix in that way. We’re more like what a paramedic is to a medic or a paratrooper is to a trooper.”
“So you just try to be regular before everyone else gets there?”
“Yeah that’s a really good way to think about it. For instance, my parents were also believers in the pararegular. They believed the name Ron and Ronda would merge into the unisex name Rond, and so that is where my name came from.”
“So you’re basically trend setters?”
“God dammit!” To make a long story short here, Rond was hoping for a “soy sauce burger” and the McDonald’s we were at had not complied, saying they “wouldn’t do such a thing.” “My apologies. What were you asking?”
You know how it feels super awkward to say the same sentence twice with the exact same phrasing even though the other person doesn’t remember or didn’t hear you the first time? Well that was one of those situations for me, and so I apologize, but I did change the phrasing of this question in a way that perhaps turned out more offensive than the carefully chosen original question.
“Would you say you’re trend setters then?”
“God dammit!” Rond looked at me furiously. “How could you even suggest that I would say such a thing! I will say no such thing just so you can get a little sound byte!”
“No, no, you misunderstand me…” but Rond had already left the table and headed across the street to a Chinese restaurant, presumably for soy sauce.
I finally got my question answered on the second day when I met Rond again by chance.
“Rond!” I shouted across the crowd, waving. “If you’re not a trend setter what are you!?”
Rond looked puzzled at first, but then came over and said, “Oh, are you honestly trying to figure out what we are about? Sorry, since it seems like inevitably human society will degenerate into perpetual gotcha journalism, I sometimes forget that is not already the case. Errr…what was your question again?”
Carefully choosing my wording this time, I said “if you are not a trend setter, what are you?”
“Oh! The difference is that we don’t try to ‘set’ anything, we are just following the trends of the future! We try to predict what is coming and we live as the first ones in that new regular.”
“Aren’t you worried that you might mispredict the future and accidentally set a trend that shouldn’t have happened otherwise?”
“Not at all, we are nowhere near popular enough for that to ever happen.”
Not a trend setter
So that just left me with one question, which I had answered on the day before the eclipse started. At a panel titled “Dealing With Paranormal Enthusiasts Directly,” I cut to the front of a line to ask my question.
“Hi everyone, I am Allen, as in the Allen from the Wilderness of Mirrors Blog,” at which point everyone in attendance got up and cheered with thunderous applause for what seemed like a minute and twelve seconds. One panelist said “may I just say, that even though I don’t like much of your content, because everything you say on your blog is very abnormal, your blog is still so popular that liking your blog is one of the most normal things a person can do. It is so fantastic…besides for all the content.” Another replied, “well this is where we of course differ. I don’t care for the blog, but the content, especially the content brought back from the future, is so valuable that I absolutely love your content, despite the current popularity of your blog. Anyways, Allen, please continue.”
“I am just trying to figure out what any of this has to do with a solar eclipse. I have to fit it into a single blog post you know, and so far I’ve wrapped up all the other threads but I don’t see a way to wrap up that one yet.” A silence fell over the crowd as they looked at one another in puzzlement. An elderly man came to the front of the line and took the mic. “We had hoped no one would ever notice this when we started the fair…but the magical black cat is out of the bag now.” He drew a long breath, sighed so deeply there was feedback in the mic, then took another long breath and continued. “The eclipse is actually very popular among the paranormal crowd, and we were doing this fair for centuries before you guys. This was all a practical joke that got entirely out of hand.” At that time a bunch of witches descended onto the scene and flashed everyone with some kind of spell that knocked them out. The elderly man and I were the only ones left standing. “Well I guess this will be the last fair then,” said the elderly man, drowsily.
The next day I celebrated the solar eclipse with the paranormal crowd, who, unlike Jessicas and Rond, agreed with me that the moon must be some kind of hoax, making the eclipse that much more mysterious.
Wait a minute… is the moon actually a gigantic eye!?
A witch kindly offered to send me back in time when it was over so that I could get this scoop in before any of it happened. I explained my trepidations about time travel, given our previous adventures. But she assured me it would be safe in small doses, so I accepted, and thus you are reading this before any of it transpired.
Unfortunately the witch was not entirely right. After I came back several fresh new particles of light came with me, and are now sitting in a jar in my laboratory under lock and key. Heaven help us if they are used again.