This Saturday we went to “Hurricane Harbor,” the water park at Six Flags. Our last visit to this so-called “amusement” park tested my mettle. I staggered through the fiery crucible and emerged with a new awareness of what I am capable of…a better understanding of who I truly am as a human being.
In a world full of thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies, I’m a chill-seeker and a “settle-in junkie.”
Some people have nerves of steel. I have nerves of overcooked spaghetti. There are lots of tough cookies in the world…I’m more like a meringue. Badass? More like Squishyass. Man or a mouse? Is there a third option? Because I’m terrified of mice. You get the picture.
If nothing else came of that first experience at Six Flags, at least I learned my lesson. I couldn’t dissuade my daughter from revisiting the park for her birthday celebration, but I could arm myself with knowledge. This time around, I studied the Six Flags website harder than I studied for my doctoral comprehensive exams. I memorized the “Family Rides” and “Kids Rides” lists. I even studied the “Thrill Rides” list in order to avoid any nasty surprises. I ordered a “Luxury Package” cabana, which promised food and beverage wait service, a TV, inner tubes, beach towels, cold beverages, and a pizza.
Are you envisioning me reclining languidly in my lounge chair by the wave pool as scantily-clad cabana boys waved pond fronds and proffered me grapes? I was too.
The luxury cabana was a ratty brown polyester tent that was stifling hot. After our first session in the wave pool, it was clear that there would be no relaxation or lazing about at all that day. Imagine a seething scrum of humanity interspersed with giant, view-blocking inner tubes. Imagine a phalanx of teenage lifeguards stationed every ten feet at the edge of the pool. The whistles never left their lips, because they would have to blow them at least every ten seconds or so. (I am now convinced that this must be The Worst Job In the World. The stress of it would put me in an early grave). Imagine me and my husband in the wave pool, constantly scanning the horizon and counting over and over again, trying to keep track of the six children for whom we were responsible – our own and the cherished offspring of our friends. At one point I saw my husband lifting a kid I didn’t recognize out of the water and walking him to the shallow end. Later I learned that he had been clinging to my daughter, shouting, “Help! I can’t float!” I had assumed she was in an inner tube at the time, but she informed me that she hadn’t been. “He was pulling me under! I thought he was going to drown me. I could barely support his weight!”
Clearly it was time to check out the other “attractions.” I gamely followed our group, acting as chaperone and Sherpa. My twelve-year old son, who shares my risk-aversive nature, trailed along beside me:
The other kids amazed me by their willingness to go on rides that were so hair-raising, I would have to avert my gaze as we walked past them. Every once in a while, my sidekick would venture to do something like the “Lazy River,”or he’d splash happily alongside the toddlers at Buccaneer Beach:
I was thoroughly exhausted, but elated when we returned to Charlottesville safe and sound on Saturday night. Everyone had a good time and best of all: no one died. I call that a good day.
We were a little sad that our 14-year old had to miss out on the fun. He is spending the week in Vermont with his friend:
The very next day 24 people got stranded at the top of The Joker’s Jinx, a very scary ride that my older son had forced my 12-year old to go on with him on our first trip to Six Flags:
Aftermath of Joker’s Jinx:
I called my 12-year old downstairs to look at the headline:
His eyes grew wide as he read the breaking story. He covered his mouth in shock, and he turned white as a sheet.
We decided we had to share the news with his older brother:
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that these two people are even related…
P.S. Eventually, everyone was safely rescued from the ride.
P.P.S. As we were driving home, my daughter said, “We should do this again when we’re all 16!” Her little friend replied, “Yeah, but we’ll go by ourselves. By then I’ll be able to drive, and I’ll take us there.”
Oh dear Lord, will the thrills never end?!