On the lighter side of the Nonahood, this is a column about the humorous realities of life in Central Florida. We must choose to laugh and sweat rather than cry and sweat.
Theme parks. What can I add to this teaming fountain of comedic anecdotes that hasn’t been written already? Probably nothing. But I’m a writer, and sometimes we must forge ahead in order to bring home the big bucks. Apparently Charles Dickens was paid by the letter, so I’m in good company. And I’ve researched theme parks by doing my best not to read Dave Barry, who I’m sure has covered them (and is a terrible writer, anyway). Ignorance is a writer’s fodder.
Let’s address lines. Not beautiful lines that weave themselves into letters, or the intricate etchings of Rembrandt, nor even the Edenic lines of my chiseled abdomen. We’re talking lines of despairing humans, or “queues,” according to the prim, dentally-challenged Brits, who redden rapidly under our merciless Florida sun.
Why do we get in lines? One reason is we just dropped ridonculous coin to get into this stupid park, so there is no chance we’re spending the day going, “Nope, that line’s too long.” Doing that only worsens our self-inflicted larceny and, very likely, grand theft. Plus, we’ll have to walk more, sweat more, get hungry more, have to eat more, and go broke more.
So we read the 45-minute wait time indicator and think, Yeah, it’s worth an hour or so of our lives waiting in order to dangle above a fake London on a fake boat. Then we shuffle and make awkward eye-contact with that toddler that wipes his booger on his mom’s pants. We do our best not to mindlessly stare at the butt in front of us, knowing that as soon as we do, someone coming the other way will draw the wrong conclusion.
It’s so easy to get caught butt-staring. My kids and I christened “bottoms” with the more descriptive title “leg-topping flesh-bulbs.” What other body part serves so many purposes? Custom seat cushion, waste management system, personal space coordinator, authentic plumber identifier.
When I get caught butt-staring, I pretend to be blind. Desperate times call for insensitive measures. Don’t know what I want to order after being in line for an hour? Blind. See my son steal candy from his sister for the dozenth time? Blind. Every time I look at the calendar and see all the stuff I have to do? I go blind. “Every time I look at you…”
Maybe theme parks aren’t for us locals. We know better. They’re really for the Germans who are so efficient that they need something to do with all the time they’ve saved. Building a land of caricature of all their old folk-tales is better than just giving them a swamp to go to. Besides, they’d probably proficiently drain the swamp, level it, and build neat little solar-powered houses and drive electric Volkswagens at ridiculous speeds. Barbarians.
“Ah, yah, zis is better, yah?”
“Vat did you do vith all de pigs we found?”
“Fine svine, my goodness, ve are living it, yah?”
I pray that you, my reader, are doing your best to avoid our parks and reserve them for the Germans. And Super Bowl winners. Or maybe the parks are actually sociological experiments set up to see how much pain the human species is willing to take. Think about it. Money, gone. Health, gone. Hope, gone. Getting out, just try to find your car. And then our little snot-nosed brat says he wants to ride the Goofy-Loopy-Roller-Ball-of-Perpetual-Vertigo again. Yup, this is definitely some sort of experiment.
I’ll admit that I understand those among us who are oblivious to their inclusion in psychological studies and actually like the parks. Occasionally, I’ll get sentimental about the time my mom said, “Come on, Philip, Space Mountain isn’t supposed to be that scary.” I remember us hurtling through the dark at a gajillion miles per hour, our tears of abject terror pinging off the faces of those behind us. Or the time my son, before leaving the park, decided that he didn’t just want ice cream, but he wanted waffles, too. This devolved into a rigorous wrestling match where I learned why benches are bolted down and why there seems to be no moratorium for yelling profanities at your child in the parks. I didn’t actually yell profanities, I just thought them. I very much thought them, while I tossed my son over my shoulder, while he screamed like a rabid chimpanzee and while he furiously beat my leg-topping flesh-bulbs.
I think I would have been humiliated if half the parents weren’t red-faced and trying to gag, bind and suppress their own progeny.
Even typing about all this right now makes me wish I could funnel some German willpower to resist the parks next time. But they’re so sparkly, so much candy, and I’m so rich from writing so many words and, hey, what doesn’t kill us makes us barf.
Philip writes for Cru, a nonprofit organization located on Moss Park Road, close enough to the 7-Eleven off of Narcoossee to justify ditching work for a Slurpee. While he thinks he’s funny, he wisely never verbalizes his musings to his two ever-increasingly hostile pre-teens. His brain doesn’t seem to do the heavy lifting in the writing process – his sweaty fingers do. So, if you laugh, snort, chortle or guffaw, they deserve the credit … both of them.