You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
The annual trek to Santa Claus, Indiana is complete and once again, I have come away with memories that are burned into my frontal lobe, like the time you saw your grandma coming out of the shower.
The day starts grey and cold. It is spitting rain and the wind is enough to bring goose bumps to even the hardened Nordic Viking.
It’s July 27th. It should be 90 plus degrees, instead it’s polar bear cool.
We saunter in with a pack of primal beasts. They are from Indiana trailer parks, Kentucky coal mines, Tennessee swamps and Illinois bogs.
Bellies hang over spandex. Tattoos are mandatory. Straight teeth are optional.
We waddle in with a pack of gluttonous swamp creatures.
There is a collective fog around them. Is it stink? Is it stupid? It’s something that seems to have its own gravitational force.
We enter the water park and grab a locker. The sun is lurking behind a layer of icy darkness.
It feels like a fall day, where someone should hand me a rake and point me to a leaf pile.
I pull off my shirt. “We’re gonna have to man up,” I say to myself.
My buddy and the three 14 year old boys with me are not so sure.
The good news: cold rainy day means lines are almost non existent.
The bad news: Maximum shrinkage.
We climb the first tower, racing up 800 steps. I am winded, my heart pounding. No need to work out today my buddy muses.
“This is pretty good,” I say. “cold, but no lines.”
The boys jump in a four man yellow tube and disappear into the mouth of the tunnel.
So much for togetherness.
Their insouciance essentially says “later old men.”
They scream and they are gone, never looking back.
My buddy and I are next.
We slowly sit our old aching backsides into the yellow indentation that serves as a seat. It’s filled with water.
It’s like lowering your ass into a stew pot of crushed ice. The water saturates my dry swim suit with a painful bite.
My groin becomes angry, revolting like a Patriot dumping tea into the Boston Harbor.
“No taxation without representation” I hear the boys shout from their submerged position.
“I’m going to scream like a little girl,” my friend says.
And he does.
As the attendant pushes us into the tube, water from the ceiling and wall sprays us. The tube envelopes us with Antarctica like cold and we yell like school girls in the darkness.
We turn backward and ride high on the walls of the icy tunnel of water.
We explode into a pond at the other end laughing uncontrollably. We are frozen and saturated.
“Did you have fun?” the attendant says.
“Hell yes,” my buddy screams.
We get out and both of us immediately feel the wind rush against our skin. It’s like shaving your chest with brillo pads.
“Where are the boys?” I mutter.
And like that, in an almost empty water park, we are separated.
The boys are looking for short lines and cute girls in bikinis. Isn’t this what America is all about?
“We’ll find them,” I say.
We walk to a ride called the Mammoth. It’s a water coaster where up to 5 people sit in a gigantic tube and fly through a course.
We are shivering.
As we pass a smattering of fat people we hear one word over and over and over.
We enter the line, passing a sign that says WAIT 2 hours.
We pass a line that says WAIT 1 hour.
We walk through the serpentine series of bars that wind you toward the ride.
Suddenly we are under the awning standing in line with a few brave souls who have all decided to ride early and often before the onslaught of disgusting humanity spills into this deep fryer of fat.
The line is 1000 people. It’s easily 30 minutes. We trudge slowly forward listening to conversations full of bad grammar and crazy thoughts of trailer hyjinx.
The line is filled with people who can only be described as genetically altered from a zombie movie made in the 50’s.
“I saw a story recently on Live with Jimmy Kimmel,” I tell my friend. “A scientist theorized that mankind began when a Male Pig mated with a female monkey.”
My friend smiles.
“That would explain this,” He says. “It’s like mongoloid nation.”
It certainly explains the high foreheads, the gorilla like walking, the hairy, stinky, tattoo covered mystery before me.
We both laugh and move inch by inch closer to a ride that neither of us is even sure we want to ride.
Suddenly, I spot the head of my son. He is dashing at full gait past row after row of waiting sloth humans.
My son and his three friends have all ready hard wired the park. They have determined the fastest route to the front of any line is the singles pathway.
They run uncontrolled, fluidly, like the bowels of cruise ship with Montezuma’s revenge.
They are suddenly at the head of the line, standing to the side, waiting on the rider platform. It’s as if they have received a pardon from the president, a free pass, and they are waiting to go.
“Oh my God. Did you see that?,” I say.
I am happy for them, and upset at myself. Are we so old and stupid that waiting in a line of saggy skinned heathens is acceptable strategy?
I watch over the top of a hundred heads as a yellow tube arrives and a group of people load. If there is a need for a single rider the attendants pull from the single’s line.
One after another, our boys get in a tube with complete strangers and go up the conveyor belt.
5 minutes pass and we see the boys race into the single’s line again. They are all smiles. Within 10 minutes all three have ridden a 2nd time. My buddy and I have moved about a 100 feet.
“You watch. They will end up in the tube with us,” he says jokingly.
He’s almost right. As we finally get in a tube with 3 people from fat knuckle Arkansas, I see the boys getting to the loading dock for a 3rd time.
I can only smile as the massive load of white people around me squishes into my tube. The durable rubber screams under tension that only a tractor tire in an Iowa corn field can know.
The day turns into a running joke about two old guys wondering where three 14 year old boys are.
I don’t know, my friend jokes. All these white kids look the same.
“Look for cute 14 year old girls,” i quip.
If my white son was a black girl, I’d have all ready found him I retort. He’s be right there in that bright pink bikini.
We laugh out loud. We sit at the wave pool and stare at the unbelievable array of disgust.
Watching people at the airport is one thing. This is like that if the airport was also a zoo, a jail, and a water treatment facility.
So much skin, jiggling. So many stomachs flopping. So many people who don’t own a mirror and wouldn’t know any better if they did.
“Are we the fattest nation on Earth?” I ask my friend.
“It’s all the fried food,” he replies.
“This is more than fried food. This is stupidity coupled with lack of self control. If aliens from another world landed at this water park, they would leave and find another world to conquer. Even people from planet X who thrive on the skulls of humanity would push this away from the intergallactic table.
Closed by the Health Department it should say.
I would argue, based on visual evidence at this water park, we are a nation of saggy flesh mastodons. We stand in lines to eat ice cream and pizza.
We have more tattoos than teeth. The language we speak publicly is so foreign, half of these people should be required to have a work visa to be here.
The boys will ultimately turn the day into a quest to hug young girls from other states.
My friend and I come to the conclusion this is a good thing.
“There are only 5 good looking people in this water park,” I will tell the boys on the ride home. “And you hugged 40% of them.”
The boys will laugh.
Why not. It’s not their fault that America doesn’t care.