The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) opened today. This assembly of rapidly put together thrill rides, tacky carnival games and overpriced foods is a Toronto tradition that signals the end of the carefree days of summer.

The DH and I went last year, after which I told him to remind me that I never want to go again if I suggest a visit in 2006.

So guess what happened last night when I saw an ad on TV?

It's just that I have such great memories of the CNE. And I guess my need to meet up with them again grows stronger as each year passes. But it's really not the same. I mean, who needs a life-sized stuffed walrus? Or a mirror with a KISS logo on it? Or a vat of fudge, pizza slices and meat on a stick?

Ugh. There were days that I would willingly carry all that stuff around with me from ride to ride, begging my weak-kneed friends to hold the stuff for me while I went on rattling rides that spun me around upside down over and over again.

Then I started dating, and my beau would lug all the crap around for me. Since that unwritten rule about not eating in front of a date was in full effect, I didn't have to worry about getting pasta sauce or mustard on my cool 80's outfit. I even wore eyeliner on a regular basis back then.

Then I met DH. The one. The CNE became a background to the awesome concerts we'd attend at the stadium on site. Sometimes we'd take in a ride on the ferris wheel. Other times we'd grab a quick snack before heading home. Sometimes I'd win a tacky prize.

Then we got...older. The stadium was torn down. The food became greasier and the rides, not so much fun as before. Last year we wandered around aimlessly, trying to avoid oversized families and poorly-driven strollers. The aromas, which used to be exciting and new, became rancid. It was an uncomfortable, overwhelming experience.

I guess it's time to just live with the memories instead of trying to resuscitate the past.