(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)
The husband and I recently took our children on a trip to an amusement park, or as I like to call it, World's Best Place to Die a Violent Death.
The kids were really stoked to go. I too was excited at the prospect of blowing the better part of our savings account to stand and sweat profusely with hundreds of alarming-looking people in two-hour lines. For 40 second rides.
I sound a little bitter, don't I? I'm not sure what happened to me. When I was young, my stomach used to leap at the thought of roller coasters. The very sight of them meant joy! Laughter! Adventure!
My stomach still leaps at the sight of coasters. But these days it's from fear! Nausea! Possible bloodshed!
I guess that's because back in the day, I, like most kids, thought I was invincible. I had no fear of death. Didn't even think about it.
Not so now. As an adult, I devote great swaths of time to thinking about death, worrying about death, and avoiding things that can cause death, such as 67-mph, 170-foot roller coasters.
Nonetheless, my husband and I recently found ourselves staring down exactly that, a giant steel contraption designed to nearly kill us. It was one of the park's newest rides, and our children, the Princess and the Hobo, had rushed to join the throngs already waiting with instructions to text when they'd finished. I felt a little worried about the kids riding all the insane-looking attractions, but there was no changing their minds. They'd been talking about this trip for the last year. Or two.
The husband turned to me. "What do you want to go on first?"
"How about that one?" I said, indicating a fast-moving circular ride.
He shook his head. "It spins. You know I can't spin -- it makes me throw up. What about this?" he said, pointing.
My eyes followed his finger up, up, way the hell up, to a vertical attraction with a top so high in the sky I couldn't see it.
"No way am I riding something that's covered by clouds," I told him. "What about the Ferris wheel? It's tall, but I can see the top."
He shrugged, said, "OK," and we, the oldsters, joined our fellow oldsters already in line.
Considering the fact that I've ridden Ferris wheels since approximately age four, it seemed like a safe bet to me.
But alas, no.
The view from the ground had tricked me. Once on the ride, I realized this was one deceiving-looking, pulse-racing, heart-stoppingly tall Ferris wheel. At the top, it stopped and swayed in the wind for what seemed like forever as I looked out across Lake Erie, located Canada, and mightily regretted leaving my anxiety meds in the car.
After 18 light-headed and tragically prescription-free minutes, we'd survived our spin on the oldster wheel and found ourselves back on terra firma. The kids met us at the bottom on the way to another coaster from a list they'd made and told us we were free to go on another ride.
You can imagine my excitement.
"Great," I said. "What now?"
We looked to the left -- spinning rides. We looked to the right -- sky-high rides. We looked straight ahead: Model T cars creeping along a winding path at a cool 5 mph. Oldster central.
"Want to ride the Model Ts?" he asked.
"I guess," I said, "but I get to drive,"
We ambled over and stood in another long line with dozens more alarming-looking people. It was worth it though, because once in the car, we had a thrilling trip full of many exciting moments, such as driving past fake rocks, and going under a fake bridge.
We climbed out of our fake car, and I realized that this adventure-filled, action-packed morning had made me hungry. And thirsty.
I turned to the husband. "Where's the old-timey saloon? I mean, it's noon. Almost. Sort of."
Stumbling around in a geezerly fashion, we finally located that staple of every amusement park, that beloved mecca for parents -- the old-West saloon. Texting ensued, and the kids joined us for lunch.
"You guys having fun?" I asked, sipping my ten-dollar, 8-ounce cup of beer.
They nodded. "Only four more roller coasters," said the Princess, "and we'll get to every one on our list!"
I groaned inwardly because, well, math. Four more coasters = four more hours. It could also equal four more beers, but I didn't feel like taking out a second mortgage on the house.
The kids wolfed down burgers as the husband and I consumed our overpriced crappy nachos and Bud Lights.
"See you guys later," said the Hobo. "We'll text when we're done."
"Sounds good," I replied, mentally adding Great spending time with ya!, even though I knew spending time with them at amusement parks = getting dragged onto roller coasters.
Now, I could tell you that the husband and I then had some kind of inspirational epiphany wherein we decided to run after the kids in a mad-cap, Brady Bunch fashion and go on every death-defying ride with them. I could tell you that, but it would be a lie.
Epiphanies: you've come to the wrong blog.
The truth of the matter is we, the senior citizens, finished lunch, then trundled around the park avoiding coasters, eating overpriced food, and getting into whatever geezer-based activities we could find. Eventually -- and somewhat blessedly -- a major thunderstorm hit, at which time we re-grouped as a family and rushed to the car. At the same time as about 8,000 other people.
I admit it: I was glad to leave. What can I say? As a child, there was no place I'd rather go than an amusement park.
Now, I'd rather go anyplace other than an amusement park.
But you raise your kids, and you do these things.You go to places like amusement parks because you love them and it's a way to spend time together as a family. They grow so fast and you blink and before you know it, they're teenagers who really don't want to be around you anymore.
So you come up with ways to force them to be around you.
As we sat in traffic, I looked out at the coasters lining the stormy skyline. Part of me felt guilty that we didn't ride all those crazy things with the kids. But hey -- we are not the Brady Bunch. We're the Webers. He vomits and I hyperventilate and that is who we are.
We showed up anyway.
And that's pretty much the definition of family, isn't it? Doing things half of you don't want to do.
Just to make the other half happy.