Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hold on tight, and have fun

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not an amusement park kind of person. I don't know what it is. They just all seem so sticky. And germy. The rides are not that fun, and usually are preceded by waiting in lines filled with people who think standing way too close together will somehow get them on the "Scream Mouse" or whatever faster. The food is disgusting. I mean, really. If anyone can write in and describe a truly delicious amusement park meal I will eat my hat, and it will probably taste better than the meal described. However, it really isn't the food and rides that get me though. It's the people. There is a certain kind of person that is only found at amusement parks and maybe the state fair. I don't know where they live the rest of the time, because I really only see them those two places. These are the people who think tank tops look good on men and spitting on the ground is an acceptable act at any time. People who dress their sons in camouflage and their daughters in middy shirts. They populate amusement parks and stand there smoking near the kiddie rides with their enormous stuffed animals they won after spending 30 bucks playing Whac-A-Mole. It's like being in a zombie movie, but instead of brains the zombies all seek fountain drinks in souvenir cups as big as their heads.

Despite my very well thought out and rational reasons I recently found myself on an outing to Lagoon, Utah's version of an amusement park. I am especially not fond of this park because of it's slogan: "It's where fun is." It also is the place for bad grammar apparently. However, Ryan's family is willing to overlook such crimes against the English language and each year holds a "Lagoon day." They rent a pavilion, get discount tickets and actually enjoy themselves. I have gone only once before, and the whole time I was praying for a big vat o
f hand sanitizer to bathe in. I was going to let Ryan go alone this year, but then he played a dirty trick on me -- he played the nieces and nephews card. How could I in good conscience pass up a chance to spend time with my favorite kids -- in particular, Luke.

Luke at an amusement park almost makes me forget all the reasons I hate it. Just watching the look of unabashed joy on his face while riding some ridiculous contraption almost melts my bitter, jaded heart. Don't get too excited, I said almost.

When we told Luke about Lagoon it was as if we had told him we were going to the moon, and th
ere were puppies living there. He talked about it non-stop. He had never been there before, but that didn't stop him from declaring it his favorite place on earth. He didn't even mind being stuck in traffic for an hour as we crawled our way towards the park. Luke kept up a steady monologue about how cool Lagoon was and all the things he wanted to do when we got there. I kept looking at the clock figuring out how long I would have to stay until I could reasonably beg Ryan to take us home.

When we got to the park we met up with Ryan's siblings and my Mom and sister. After all, this was Luke's first time at Lagoon, so according to Mitchell family bylaws at least three adults had to be there documenting it. We were now a group of six adults and five children. Like an amoeba we moved towards the kiddie section of the park.

Little has changed at the kiddie yard since I was a child being dragged to Lagoon. Yes, they have added some rides that could be considered "safe" or "fun," but the main attractions are still the rides that are "boring" or "could maim you." Take for example the boats. Six small boats going in a oval about the size of a large rug, floating on water that most likely came from a Superfund site. Yet, kids (Luke included) were willing to stand in line for an eternity just to sit in one and ring the stupid bell. And when it was all over he wanted to d
o it again. And again. And again. In fact, each of our nieces and nephews had a ride they just couldn't get enough of. Amaya loved the planes. We couldn't get Ashlyn off the swings. Clint went on the log flume so many times I don't think he will ever dry out. And Shaylee would have stayed on the Merry-go-round until puberty if it had been allowed.

Round and round she goes...

The Merry-go-round is the one ride I can really get behind. There is something just so classic about climbing on a brightly painted horse (or, in my case a zebra), holding on tight, and having the wind w
hip past you as you run an imaginary race. If you get to ride on a horse that goes up and down it's even more awesome. Really, the only problem I have with the Merry-go-round is most are found in amusement parks. If I had one in my backyard, I might never get off.

Ryan is more of a thrill seeker than I am though, and insisted we go on at least one ride not populated with six year olds. Unfortunately, by the time we could pull ourselves from the kids all of the park people had arrived for their Friday night dates, so the lines were all so long they snaked together into a giant rats nest. We had to pick a ride that was a little less popular, but no less exciting: the Terror Ride.

The burned out E makes it even scarier.

The Terror Ride used to freak the hell out of me when I was a little kid. The front features two windows that open and shut with scary monsters peeking out. I used to walk on the other side of the fairway so that if the monsters some how came alive and jumped out at me I would at least have a head start. Of course, when I got older and went on the ride I learned the scariest thing in there were the employees who occasionally jumped out at unsuspecting riders.

Nothing has changed on the Terror Ride, except for the fact they have put clothes on the torture victims in the dungeon scene. I'm sure that is a big disappointment for 13-year old boys who have few chances to see nipples, be they real or plastic. I know Ryan was a little upset.

I actually stayed at Lagoon three hours and seventeen minutes longer than I planned. It wasn't even that painful. Of course, this doesn't mean I will be going back soon, or that I didn't shower with Clorox when I got home. I think it means I'm getting more tolerant and accepting of people, no matter what they think of as a good time. Yeah, I didn't believe that either.