Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Melissa Visits The Water Park

My family has a long storied tradition of road trips gone awry. It doesn't seem to matter how ambitious a road trip we have in mind, chances are, it's just not going to work out the way we planned it. The unexpected detours generally come courtesy of whatever vehicle we happen to be driving at the time. Once, on an ill fated trip to Mystic, Connecticut, our station wagon died. And I mean really died. The mechanic working on it said, "I've never seen a car so dead as this one." I think that was after he asked what was exactly the limit on my parents' credit card.

Never a good sign.

Anyway, Monday turned out to be another of those trips. Our destination wasn't anything far. We were only going to the water park because it happened to be actually warm and sunny and admission was only $12. So I piled into my mother's car along with my mother, my sister, Wendy, and her daughter (My niece, Jupiter...you might remember her from my "scenes from an afternoon" blog.). My other sister, B, and the boys she sometimes nannies for in the summer would meet us there later.

We left the house at 10am. Jupiter and I sat in the backseat and spent our time howling like wolves, chatting like monkeys and baa-ing like sheep. I'm sure my mother and sister were delighted. When we got tired of playing wild animal kingdom, I started to read a book to her.

We were well ensconced in Brother Bear's struggle with peer pressure when the "low coolant level" warning light flickered on the car's dashboard. Normally, in my mother's car, this would not be cause for alarm. The low coolant warning light had been going on and off for a good six years. This time, however, it was accompanied by an ominous sounding series of bongs (and not the kind with which one smokes illegal substances...that would've been just plain weird.). My mother and sister were watching the temperature gauge creep higher and higher. It wasn't quite at the half way mark but it was higher than it had ever been before so they decided it was time for a detour.

We pulled into the Wal Mart parking lot and my mother and sister both got out of the car and went inside the automotive entrance without a word to either Jupiter and I in the backseat. We looked at the door through which they had disappeared and then each other.

"Where are we?" Jupiter asked because plainly we were not at the water park.

So I briefly explained what was going on. We finished reading the book and then resorted to staring at the ceiling while we waited. I opened the door because my mother and sister had not cracked any windows before they left, nor had they left the keys in the ignition.

We chatted about Jupiter's recent trip to the Bronx Zoo. We chatted about riding the train to New York City. We chatted about Les Miserables and how stupid Cosette's voice is. The stupid remark was Jupiter's. I asked her if she knew what stupid meant and she said she didn't. We chatted about what she and her mother were going to do with the rest of their vacation. We then chatted about whether she was someone who enjoyed the journey more than the destination. Once I explained what that meant, we determined she enjoys the destination more than the journey.

My mother and sister returned with an automotive guy. They popped the hood and disappeared behind it. They reemerged with a gameplan, gave Jupiter some peanut butter crackers on which to snack and then went back in the store. Jupiter took the gum out of her mouth, stuck it on her leg and dug into her crackers with relish. I took off my sandals and stuck my feet outside the door. This prompted Jupiter to call me weird.

"I'm weird?" I asked. "You have gum stuck on your leg."

My mother and sister returned with a jug of coolant and another automotive employee. Together, they stood over the engine, debating their options. The automotive employee told them the water pump needed to be replaced, which was not something they could fix there.

"But V.I.P is real close and it's early in the morning," the guy said.

It was 11am. Even I don't consider 11am to be early in the morning.

"They can probably get you right in," he finished.

So we took our jug of coolant and drove over to V.I.P. My mother and sister went inside.

"Aren't you glad you came?" My sister asked me.

"Yeah," I said. "Thanks for inviting me along."

Jupiter and I stayed in the car. She looked confused as we had left Wal Mart and yet, still hadn't arrived at the water park.

"Is this the best trip to the water park ever or what?" I asked.

The sarcasm was lost upon Jupiter.

So we sat in the car while my mother and sister conferred with the mechanic and ran back and forth to find out things like the type of engine because apparently "big, metal and malfunctioning" wasn't description enough.

"Maybe you can call B and find out where she is," my mother suggested at one point.

So I did. B, as it turned out, was just leaving Wal Mart. The Wal Mart where we had just been. And better yet, she hadn't yet picked up the boys.

"Could you please come and pick us up and bring us to the water park and then go and get the boys?" I asked after I explained the situation.

So B did. We crammed into her car. I sat in one of the car seats she had for the boys. I am proud to report that I am in my thirties and yet, I can still fit my ass into a child's car seat. Go me.

So, after leaving the mechanic with a plethora of cell number at which to reach us once the water pump had been replaced, we were off. We reached the water park just before noon. The line was insane. Apparently, the entire state had decided to go to the water park to celebrate the reappearance of the summer weather. We got out of the car and got in line while B went to pick up the rest of our party.

We made camp near the children's area on a patch of grass in the sun because all the lounge chairs and shade had been snapped up by the people who had arrived when the park opened. Jupiter went swimming in the one normal pool the park has which was crowded with boys from a rec group.

The boys were playing with blue playground balls and were not overly cautious about where and how hard they were throwing the blue playground balls. One almost hit Jupiter and the three adults where we were perched on the pool's edge. My mother, who was probably a little miffed about the water pump detour, didn't take this very well.

She warned them to be careful where they were throwing the ball. When the same problem occurred a second time, she warned them that should the ball come her way a third time, she was going to keep it.

"And don't you think she won't," I said.

The ball did not come our way a third time.

B and the three boys, Bill, Harry and Ian arrived. We ate lunch, boggled at the bathing suit choices some women had made, and then got in the long line for the tubing slide. We amused ourselves by guessing whether people would tip over in their tubes when they hit the pool at the bottom. The heavier you are, the greater the chance you'll flip, in case you wondered.

After the tubing slide, we went to the cess pool- I mean wave pool. This was when the sun disappeared behind the clouds and it started to get cold standing there in the water holding a tube while Jupiter and Ian played in, on and around it. We tried mini golf next but the line was deemed to be too long so we went back to the kiddie area and the kids splashed around in the pools there.

This was about when VIP called back. They left a message saying the water pump wasn't the problem after all. It looked like it was the intake valve seal or something like that, which was a much longer and more expensive job. Which is exactly what my mother had been hoping they would say.

She got a ride back to VIP to pick up the car. Jupiter and Wendy wandered off and the boys, Bill and Harry decided to play Water Wars. Water Wars is a water balloon thing. There are two booths with slingshots into which you load a water balloon and fling it at either the person in the other booth or the rabid kids standing between the booths, hoping to catch a water balloon, or, quite possibly an innocent passer-by. It's really a big waste of resources but I dutifully helped tied fourteen water balloons and then helped Harry pull the sling shot down so he could load and fire his ammo.

After that, it was back to the tubing slide. Bill and I were standing in line, Bill ahead of me. Behind me were three kids in one of those tubes made to accommodate three people. They quickly developed a habit of running into the back of my legs. Every time they did so, I would turn and and give them a pointed look. A minute or two would pass and then they would run into the back of my legs again.

"C'mon!" they would say. "Let's go!"

I managed to resist offering to punt them off the hill into the little wading pool below.

After the tubing slide, Bill, Harry and I tried out the other slides. There are three slides that require the passenger to sit on a mat, not a tube. You also have to go by yourself. No doubles allowed. It was a new experience for Harry but he thought he might give it a go. So we each got a mat and started up the hill.

The mat was a little big for Harry and he was having some trouble carrying it so the going was slow. This was a problem for the people behind us who actually started pushing, and I do mean pushing, past us to get ahead.

Now, I had no problem with them going ahead of us. I mean, come on, we were moving at a snail's pace, but the pushing and the shoving was really uncalled for. Especially when the adults started doing it.

"Hey!" I said to one particularly irritating group. "Do you mind?"

"Oh," one of them said, looking at us. "We're going to be in a different line."

"I don't care about the line," I said, resisting the urge to call the person an uncomplimentary name. "I do, however, care about you pushing some little kid out of the way in order to get to said line."

They looked slightly abashed but the moment passed and they continued on their way.

I carried Harry's mat the rest of the way and we got in line. Bill went first. Harry was second. He was too light to move the mat himself so I had to try to help him. It was hard to do while holding my own mat and, with a great sigh, so I would know just how put out he was, the lifeguard came to help.

This reminded me greatly of the How I Met Your Mother episode where James Van Der Beek guest starred at a water park employee. It's hysterical if you've seen the episode. If you haven't, it really can't be explained properly. It's something you just have to experience.

Anyway, we all made it down the mat slide in one piece. Bill and Harry decided it was the best thing ever and immediately got back in line. B stayed at the bottom and waited on them and I went back to the kiddie area where our base camp had been set up. I ogled some hot lifeguards and reapplied my sunscreen.

At some point, B and I switched places and I stood at the bottom of the slides and watched for the boys to come out. Harry, at one point, lost his mat. At another point, he was run over by the adult slider who had come down after him. The third time, he came down backward, lost his mat and then was run over. After each of these times, I asked if he was all right. He recounted exactly what had happened but never once answered if he was, indeed, all right.

We played until the park closed at 6pm. Then we made the slow pilgrimage back out to the car with the other people who had also decided to stay until 6pm. There were a lot of people which meant there was a very long line to get out of the park. My mother's car had been deemed driveable but she didn't want to make it idle so we sat and waited. Jupiter ate everything in the cooler and then started to work on mine. My mother and Wendy decided to put some coolant in, just in case. While they did, Jupiter decided it was a good time to have a little talk with me.

"Your top is too low," she said.

"What?" I said, looking down at myself. Looked all right to me.

"It's not covering the parts it should be covering," she said.

I looked down again. Nope. Everything that needed to be covered was covered. I told Jupiter so.

"It's not covering that part," she said and poked the area to which she was referring.

"Oh, no," I said. "That part's okay, hon. Really."

Especially considering some of the other suits worn by other women. All I can say is that people's confidence is higher than one might think it would be. Or maybe should be. Some women really should not wear bikinis. That is all.

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