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BEST PARADE Minneapolis 2000 - winter carnival

So this guy--thirtysomething, hint of a paunch, touch of a mustache--bounds up to us, stops dead in his tracks, and beams: "May I mark you?" And before we can so much as blurt out a "Huh?" the greasepaint is on our cheek, and the guy is gone, and we turn slack-jawed to our native-born companion. "They didn't used to ask," he says in the soothing tone he employs when we're about to lose our grip on reality. "And they used to kiss." We would stop and ponder this remarkable sign of the Zeitgeist, but we're too busy staring after the Vulcan as he plants grease marks on the faces of females all the way down St. Peter Street, and then we're distracted by the float with the giant blowtorch, and the singing Bavarians stomping to keep their lederhosened loins warm, and the Hopkins Raspberry Festival royalty, and the Shriners marching band, and the vintage fire engine, and then we find some mini-doughnuts and eat the whole bag while trying to figure out how (or why) a guy with a chainsaw would turn a block of ice into a peacock, and then we head for O'Gara's to warm up, and by the third Irish coffee we notice greasepaint dripping onto our parka, and it's about then that we begin to wish the Vulcans had stuck with smooching.

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