November, 2010

A friend of mine and his young son set out on a long-planned, much anticipated trip to a big, local amusement park. It was the boy's birthday, and this was going to be his big, big treat. He and his father both told me the story of their adventure, and I present it here for your edification...

The morning was sunny and bright, and they were in fine spirits as they set out. The trip didn't go quite the way they hoped it would, however. About halfway from their home to the park, they had a flat tire, and Dad had to change it on the side of the very busy highway, muttering and swearing-- quietly enough, he hoped, that the boy wouldn't hear him. It took him much longer than he thought it would, due to the wheel's lug nuts being extremely hard to budge.

The sweaty, grimy task completed, his knuckles skinned and bleeding, they set out once again. A few miles down the road, a police car pulled them over. Dad had been speeding, as he tried to make up for lost time, so they could cram the maximum amount of excitement into their day at the amusement park.

"What did you do, Dad? Are we in trouble?" the boy asked, as the cop wrote out the ticket.
"Daddy was driving too fast", the cop replied. "He has to watch how fast he goes and drive at the right speed, isn't that right, Dad?"
"That's right, officer. You bet. Are we free to go, now?", asked Dad, gritting his teeth and signing the ticket.
"You certainly are. Drive carefully, Sir. Goodbye, son" said the cop.
"We're going to the amusement park!" said the boy.
"Well, you have a good time, then", said the cop.
"We're off to a great start", said Dad.

Arriving at the park, Dad was able to find parking several football field lengths from the entrance, and as they headed for the front gate, the sky began to darken. At the ticket window, Dad learned that the discount coupons he'd brought had expired, and he wound up having to pay full price for their tickets. Never mind; they were finally in the park! It began to rain like crazy, and they got soaked to the skin. They took shelter under a food vendor's awning. Dad bought his son a hot dog, some cotton candy and an ice cream cone, while he enjoyed a chili dog, some fried dough, peanuts and a large cola.

Thus fortified, they headed for The Groin Grumbler-- or whatever the name of the park's fiercest ride was. This was The Most Terrifying Ride Ever, and was Sure To Delight Young And Old Alike, Living In Your Memory Amongst The Most Thrilling Experiences of A Lifetime, and blah, blah, blah...  It was, of course, closed for repairs.

The hapless duo went on another ride, which was still operating, even in the rainstorm. Up and down and round and round and loop-the-loop and zippity-zoom-- they careened madly every which way. It was less terrifying than The Groin Grumbler, but hardly less stimulating to the vestibular system. As soon the the ride came to a stop and his vision leveled, the boy threw up. Projectile vomiting, like he was going for a distance record. Out came the hot dog, cotton candy and ice cream, all over Dad, who thought his own stomach was stronger than it apparently was. Dad vomited in response. Out came the chili dog, fried dough peanuts and cola, splattering them both.

Thoroughly and liberally plastered with their own, recycled junk food, the pair tiptoed down the stairs from the ride. At least the pouring rain would soon rinse them relatively clean. Oops! Nope-- the rain let up just about the moment they hit the bottom step.  Several minutes and a few fistfuls of paper towels later, they emerged from the Men's room, soggy, semi-clean and thoroughly disgusted. They were weary and quite fed up with the whole amusement park experience. Shoes squelching and clothes dripping, they wound their way back through the parking lot. They drove home, quietly. They boy snoozed in the seat next to Dad.

When I saw them shortly after this trip, I spoke with the boy about it. I knew he'd been excited about going-- he'd spoken of nothing else for a week or more before hand.
"So, did you have a good time?" I asked him. "Was it a good birthday?"

"Aw, Uncle Jef.! My birthday cake was nice, but that amusement park-- gee; it was... it was the worst fun I ever had!" he moaned. He pegged it, precisely, in eight words. I hope this boy grows up to be a writer.

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