Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Life Changing Decision

A Life Changing Decision

I made a life changing decision recently. And, since such decisions do not usually come lightly nor are they without big consequences, I felt the need to let those closest to me know about this huge change in my life.

No more theme parks for me. Kaput. Finito. Nada Mas. I am through. I did my last one.

As I was standing in line (waiting to get a $4.00 coke and a $10.00 hamburger that would sport a small piece of brownish wilted lettuce with a mealy tomato atop a cardboard piece of meat between two stale pieces of bread) and felt the sweat trickling down my back and pooling around the waistband of my pants and underneath my bra, it came to me. This thought. The one that changed my life.

“I am miserable and I don’t have to be here. I can just say ‘No” to my children next time they ask to go.” Seems strange doesn’t’ it? One thought can alter your whole life. But once I uttered those words to myself I suddenly felt free.

Most life altering decisions come after some sort of epiphany or religious experience and this one was no different; only instead of seeing God, I think I caught a glimpse of Hell and determined that it was not a place I wanted to be.

The temperature gauge read 102 degrees, but I am sure it was broken because it felt more like 190 degrees. The germ factor was probably off the charts what with the teaming mass of humanity that surrounded me on all sides. Not to mention the assault that was being performed on all five of my senses.

“My eyes! Oh my eyes!” Everywhere I turned I saw yet another “DON’T” straight from the pages of Glamour Magazine. I sometimes wonder if these people even own a mirror. Or if they do, if it is like that mirror in the Harry Potter book that shows what you wish to be instead of what actually is… Because as far as the eye could see there were people sporting the latest trendy styles that really don’t even look good on Runway Models, much less, your average American Body. Bathing suits that barely covered sagging and quivering places that desperately needed to remain covered. T-shirts announcing all kinds of sexual innuendos that are frightening enough on their own, but when combined with some of the people wearing them become downright nightmarish. I mean who wants to let their child go on a play date with a family whose father is wearing a T shirt that says “Hey little girl, I got some candy. Want to come and play with me?” and a mother whose tank top sports the words “S L _ T” on the top line and the words “All I Need is U” on the bottom line while showcasing her skull tattoo above her left breast? A tattoo, I might add, that once was a nicely shaped skull and cross bones but now time and gravity have slightly altered its shape so that it looks like an elongated oval shape with eyes with two sticks of wood crossing underneath.

And I certainly was not faring any better! Knowing better than to don my bathing suit while walking through the park - no matter how hot it was - I was stuck in my once crisply ironed walking shorts and white cotton shirt. Shirt and shorts now showing sweat soaked stains across my back and under my arms along with a brown stain of coke splashed down the front of my shirt with a large piece of pinkish chewing gum stuck to the left rear of my shorts. Not to mention the fact that my vanity (and my non-Harry Potter mirror) which kept me from wearing my bathing suit also kept me from being able to cool off and enjoy the rides. I got to sit at the table in the sweltering heat watching all of our belongings while my three children and my husband cooled off in the pools.

Of course none of this is made any easier by the fact that my, still unfairly handsome, husband and beautiful children all look fabulous despite the heat. At 50, Kent looks better than ever and still turns heads as he dashingly walks through the park and our kids all look like gorgeous sun kissed surfers strutting their stuff though the park.

The next assault on my senses was from the smells and the sounds. Being outside for an extended time on any hot day in Texas is a challenge, but add in the elements of an August day topping the charts at over 100 degrees crammed together with thousands of families at Sea World and you have your own special kind of day. The mass of sweating bodies, combined with babies and children in desperate need of a diaper change mixed in with the smell of chlorinated water full of “God Only Knows What”, as my mother would say, and you have a smell that is, well -- indescribable.

On top of that, the constant whistles of the life guards, various announcements made over the loudspeakers, mind numbing rock music and snatches of conversation you are forced to listen to as you stand in line or stumble through the crush of bodies all racing to the same destination only to stand in line again.
“Red! Red! @#$!. I done told you I was sick of that.”Shut up boy. I am going to give you something to cry about.” “Attention Guests. All babies of diaper age MUST wear a swim diaper while in the water. Sir, please remove your child from the water and put them in a swim diaper.”

“Momma, Whhhhyyyy can’t I git anuther ice cream. It’s not Faiirrrrrr . I hate you. Please carry me. I am sooooo hot.” - Oh wait, that was my children!

Because I know that some of you have very weak stomachs I won’t go into detail about the one relief I had regarding my reluctance to put on my bathing suit. Yes, it was mostly due to vanity, but then there is also the fear factor. Let’s say that at any given time there are five thousand people of all kinds swimming in oh, let’s say five thousand gallons of water, doing whatever it is that those five thousand people might do in the water, well – you do the math. I still don’t think they make enough chlorine to kill what might be expelled into that water! All I can say is that I am thankful that the only part of my body that touched the water that day was my feet when I reluctantly had to sludge through the mess of water streaming out of the bathroom showers.

Then of course there is the small matter of the money. Yes, money. As my husband, Kent, says. “It’s always about the money!” The cost of four adult tickets – yes FOUR adult tickets was more than my weekly grocery bill. Because you see, these theme parks have it down. Anyone over the age of TEN is considered to be an adult. I love that.

Since my twelve year old and my fourteen year old are both considered adults by the theme parks, I would love to ask the management if they would like to allow my children to sit on their governing board as voting members or better yet, perhaps hire one of them to run personnel where they could hire and fire employees using their very adult minds and decision making capabilities. “Hire him – he’s a HOTTIE!” Or “Who cares if it would cost the company money? We should let everyone in for free. That would be Cool!”

Then of course once you get inside there is the small matter of the cost of all the extras. Remember the $4.00 coke I mentioned earlier? How about the fact that the ONLY way to exit the theme park is through the Gift Shop! So, after spending the princely sum of approximately $350.00 for 6 hours in Hell. No, wait, I meant 6 hours in {you can just insert the name of any theme park you choose here} we get to experience that wonderful thing I call the Exit March… or the ubiquitous ride home.

After seven or eight hours of standing on our feet, walking through the heat, waiting in long lines that end up taking twice as long as you expected only to find that when you get to the front there are three cash registers but only one attendant. Or finding that the shops are completely out of cold water or that just as you get to the front of the line for the ride you waited 30 minutes for, an announcer comes on saying that it is broken and they don’t know when it will be fixed (all true examples!). Well, after all of that, you then have the longest walk of all - the Exit March.

That walk back through the park and through the sweltering black top of the parking lot to your car which registers a whopping 108 degrees on the inside. I’ve seen photos of refugees walking through the deserts that have the same haunted look in their eyes and that same desperate shuffle of putting one foot in front of the other as they try to trudge their way to a better place, all the while blocking out the pain and misery of their journey.

The whining and crying usually begins about one minute into our Exit March and builds in strength until the crescendo that usually hits just about the time we are getting ready to enter an enclosed car. The pain of their feet, the blisters, the headaches, the unquenching thirst that has just hit, the need to go to the bathroom, the fighting over who has to sit in the middle. And that is just Kent and me.

The kids are usually too comatose to have even started their whining yet. This is the part where everyone ends up fighting over important things such as who should have to walk to the car rather than be carried or whose fault is it that we left our ice chest at the picnic table and whether or not it is really worth it to walk all the way back inside to retrieve it. (ANSWER: not just no, but HELL no!).

Or most importantly, who is the most miserable and therefore deserving of demanding their way no matter what anyone else in the car wants! "I can't listen to the radio it makes my head hurt." "If you don't turn the radio on, I am going to vomit." Or my personal favorite, "Mom, you have to sit in the back seat, I caaannn't sit in the back, I hate it."

So yes, regardless of the pain and depravation it may cause my children. Regardless of the shame they must endure from having a mother who is so freakish that she has now banned theme parks from her repertoire of motherly duties. I have made my decision and I am sticking to it. I will not turn my back on my conviction. I will stand by my newfound belief. One must be strong. I will never, never, never set foot in another theme park, ever again.

As I announced this everyone in the car as we were driving home, there was dead silence. Then I heard a small voice from the back saying, “But Mom, we had sooo much fun. This was the best day ever!” Then another chimed in saying “What about Disney, you know how much we all love Disney and it’s our family tradition. We always like to go.” With a last and even sadder voice saying “You’re kidding right? You wouldn’t do that to us, would you? We wouldn’t’ have fun if you didn’t come with us.”

Nope. I am not falling for it. No more theme parks…Other than maybe Walt Disney World… but only in the off-season...and only if I am staying on the property…

1 comment:

  1. omg, Reenie! I KNOW of what you's the heaving, unwashed masses. GROSS. Now you know why i dislike (no...hate is a better description) OPC...other people's children. That, my friend, is the sole reason why I no longer own a toy store. Keep me LAUGHIN'!!!!!!!! Love ya!