Sunday, September 9, 2012

God & Gays at the Fair

OK, this is it, my last State Fair post I promise.

Several days ago I released the results of the Golden Whisk award.

How wonderful it was to see over 100 people pop onto Facebook and send well wished to Kelly.

But now I am going to tell you guys about 2 conversations that I had during my 12 day marathon.

In many ways my demo kitchen is like a fish bowl.

Klecko pretty much rotates in a small cooking space that is placed smack-dab in the middle of a warehouse.

There are barriers at my kitchens perimeter. They are not so strong that they are going to prevent somebody from entering if their mind is set on that, but for anybody with a social filter, they get it.

You stay out there, and Klecko swims within the fish bowl baking Bundt cakes.

The first year I worked this area I spent a lot of time along the perimeter, talking with people who were bored or needed directions to the bathroom, but it didn't take me more than a couple of hours before I realized I would certainly lose my voice if I spent an entire 12 hour shift amidst conversation.

So that's when Klecko decided to look busy towards the back of the kitchen.

Even when implementing this strategy, some friend, colleague or whoever will pull me up to the surface every 4 or 5 minutes.

Over the course of a Fair...the Last American Baker will engage in thousands, and thousands of conversations.

Most are typical, some are tedious, but then there are always a couple that inspire me to new heights.


Several years ago, like 3 or maybe 5....

I had a young woman working at the bakery. She had finished (or was in the process of) getting her culinary degree at one of those cooking schools that charge kids $40 000 a year.

The young woman's name was Abbey, and she was polite, prompt and courteous.

When a person comes to work and possesses these qualities, I almost always automatically like them.

"So Abbey" I asked "What are you going to do when you get that degree of yours?"

And you gotta realize that when I asked her this, we were alone in a remote part of the bakery.....

One 276 pound, tattooed thug, and a young woman......

Abbey smiled and with every bit of confidence she replied...........

"I want to move to Indiana, and join a ministry where I can serve God. I have been torn over this for a couple of years....but that is what I really want to do."

Usually, or many times at least...when a young person makes such a proclamation, often times they are simply trying to avoid what is in their immediate scope.

Often times words uttered like these fall off the tongue of youth that have been disenfranchised from their family.

Well I took the kid into my office and gave her a speech that pretty much applauded her hearts desires, but then the dad in me took over and I had to reveal that the creepiest part of the Jesus experience can be his employees.

I bet I spent 1/2 hour discussing how a beautiful young woman is OK to put 100% trust into their faith....but only put 25% into the men that are leading these causes.

I can't tell you how many people I know that have been trampled on by people who were in position the be a church figure head.

Well....the kid must have discussed our discussion with her family because a couple days later her Mother, Father and siblings showed up at the plant.

The Dad had such a grateful look in his eyes, when his clan ran over to look at some equipment, he whispered........

"Thanks for encouraging my daughter, but doing so with caution......she didn't believe me, or pay any attention at least, but she believed every word you said."

Funny how kids always seem to listen to anybody but their parents huh?

Well about 1/2 through the Fair Abbey and her Fam stopped by the fish bowl.

It's been a couple years since I've seen her, and I can't tell you what a sight she was. Kinda like how they paint women on religious postcards, all radiant and stuff.

The new-news in her life is she is about to take a vow that will prohibit her from marrying.

She is going to devote her ENTIRE life to God.

When she told me this....I got scared, because I wanted her to know the joy of having a family that will love her.

Sometimes I think God put my Fam in my life to make me better, more patient...ya know?

But Abbey is brilliant, and if you met would realize she was 40 X's smarter than me.

Before she left, I informed her that I was getting old, but yet I felt as if I had 3 or 4 more years to crush the skulls of any ministry members that tried to mess with her.

That's when her dad smiled, and then she hugged me like they do in the movies, and then she faded back into the crowd.

For just the splittest of split seconds, Danny Klecko was feeling this strong reverent vibe, but within moments a middle age couple got into an escalated argument concerning which building the Butterhead sculptures were in.


One of the things that people will remember the 2012 Fair by is the strong push concerning Gay Marriage. 
During Minnesota's next election, there will be an amendment to legalize same sex marriges.

No matter where you stood during the Fair....whether it was the Midway, Machinery Hill or the Beer Garden's you couldn't help but see a dozen people wearing T-Shirts telling the rest of the world how to vote.

I have friends on both sides of the fence.

And if I am going to be honest, I can see points why each camp thinks the way they do.

Whenever an issue entwines commonsense with morality....the outcome boils down to perception.

Dude.....I've stood at a table with ladies trying to decide whether our bar recipe should or should not add pecans.....and that almost started a Holy War.

But when you take things like biblical scriptures, social mores and toss them into a Yahtzee cup with love, DNA and the personal testimony of a large fraction of our population....?

Now most of you who know me know that I never tell others how to vote.

That is up to you, and to be honest....I don't want anybody to agree with me, because 9 out of 10 times I'm lost.

But when I stood in the fish bowl for 12 days and witnessed my Right Wing friends wearing shirts declaring.....

Adam and Eve
Not Adam and Steve

I can't tell you how ashamed I was.

This vote coming up is a serious matter.

And to treat the Gay Community as if they are the weak / unpopular kids in second period study hall in unforgivable.

With all of my heart I believe that ridiculing or shaming others is the quickest way to find yourself in need of a fire proof wardrobe.

Maybe it's too much to expect, but wouldn't it be nice, or aren't we as Minnesotan's capable of discussing such an important matter without taunting or shaming each other.

Shifting Gears..........................................

If you recall earlier in the Fair a local TV station sent a camera crew into my building to film me acting like a Bundt Cake big shot.

The piece aired at 8 a.m., but I had to be in my kitchen at 6:30.

So basically things are hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.

My warehouse was in complete darkness except the the interior lights in my kitchen.

It kinda gave the space an eerie feel, as if you were in a UFO or something.

In the midst of this lull, there was a 10-15 minute slot where only I and a 55-58ish year old woman who did the lighting were in the building.

Maybe because the building was scary......

Maybe because the baker was creepy.......

The lighting woman chose to break the awkward silence......

"Do you ever bake gluten-free items Danny?"

I explained that I didn't.

"The person I live with is somebody that just can't eat wheat." she continued, and then paused....

Silence -

Silence -

Silence -

And we are still in a tractor beam of light amidst a ocean of darkness.....

The setting was surreal......

"Are you referring to your girlfriend?" I asked.

Now the woman looked puzzled and sick to her stomach...but to her credit, in this strange setting, with a thug she had never met before....she went against her natural instincts and decided to trust me.

"Ahhhh, is my girlfriend. How did you...or do you know that?"

Typically I am not all the touchy feely, but I put my right arm around this woman and gave her a "Big Brother" hug and  informed her......

"Whenever people our age discuss who they live with, they always use husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, they say it w/o thinking. But when you are past 40 and you describe your partner as "The person I live with" it's kinda like code for saying I am gay but not sure I can tell you this, because I don't know how you will react."

Silence -

Silence -

Silence -

"Your safe in this kitchen kid." I told her "And just for the record, you are living in 2012....there is no reason to live in fear."

Then I saw a weight lifted from this woman that I won't even try to describe.

This woman wasn't trying to be political.

She just needed acceptance and reassurance. 

So as I sign off from another Fair that took place in an election year, I guess I will go against my own personal template and tell all of you........

You don't have to agree with everybody -

You don't have to understand everybody -

But if you just shut your mouth and actually loved people different than yourselves w/o shoving your own intentions down their throat....

Your world will change for the better.

OK...I am off the soap box, and next time we talk.....we will be back to chapter next.



  1. As far as I'm concerned, you can climb onto your soapbox and preach Love every day of the week. The world would be a better place if more of us did that.

  2. "Faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love." ~ JC

    1. Run Sandy Run...................................