Who’s Your Daddy

It’s Father’s Day. I didn’t do a great job this year with thoughtful gifts and perfectly planned activities. (That translates into – I didn’t even get him a gift and I have nothing planned for the day).  So my plan is to not yell at him about the laundry or cleaning the garage, at least until after lunch.  This he considers valuable.

My husband comes from a plain family – one mom, one dad, married for over 40 years, working-class. They are nice parents, with the normal annoying-parent qualities.  They might be described as unremarkable, because they are just so normal.  But they worked hard and successfully raised three kids that are now productive members of society.   After raising kids for only eight years so far, I know it isn’t easy to get your kids into adulthood and have them be happy, healthy, and productive citizens.

For 40 years, my husband operated under the impression that his parents were almost boring.  Everything changed this past Thanksgiving.  It would take an entire blog to explain how we got to this point (and maybe I will write about it later), but the short version is that it took approximately 20 hours to unravel life as he knew it.

It took 19 hours from the time we requested his birth documents to the time when he was told (by a government worker on the phone) that his dad wasn’t his dad.  He also learned that the other man had also been his mother’s first husband and he was born under this man’s name.

It took another hour to find the original dad on the internet and learn that he was not a person you would want to know or be associated with.  It was worse than we could have imagined.

It is difficult to explain what this did to our family.  Many were quick to say to him that it didn’t really matter, because he was raised by a dad that loved him.  But life as he knew it was gone – nothing had been as it seemed.  And to complicate it, the biological father was a real SOB and now he was genetically tied to this stranger.  My husband now had a new history.

It also felt like a huge betrayal.  His dad loved him, and raised him, and now my husband was dragging this dark secret into the family history.  My husband didn’t want to hurt them.  We had to decide how and when to break it to his parents what we knew, and then trudge through the immensely challenging questions that he needed answered, like was actually adopted or just a changed name.

We had to call the other siblings, that were now officially “halfs” and share not only his new history, but the personal story of his parents.  And the story his mom shared (and lived) was so sad and heart-breaking.  She was a new bride abandoned to deliver alone and bring a new baby home to an empty apartment.  She was poor, and alone with a new baby while she dealt with the betrayal and heart-break that comes from a cheating husband.

We had our own family, and kids that now had a different genetic piece in their life.  Part of the pain came from the secrets – how many knew, what hadn’t they told him, etc…  A secret can make the truth seem ugly.  We didn’t want to perpetuate the secret or create new secrets, and we had to navigate on how and when to share, including with our children.

But through this immense pain came the story of a man that wasn’t a father and became one through the least-normal circumstances.  He didn’t find someone, fall in love, get married and start a family.  My father in-law was a man that went bowling with friends and happened to help a little blonde toddler lift his bowling ball.  He happened to meet a divorced woman with a young toddler, and despite coming from a Catholic small-town upbringing, he fell in love and started a very unconventional family (for the early 70s).  He became a second husband and adopted his first child. He helped a woman heal her broken heart and create a new life.

If you knew the straight-laced, passive man that is my father in-law, you would shake your head and never imagine this story happened.  We under-valued this man.  We saw him as just normal – married, three kids, with a 9-5 government job.  And when I look at my husband, and the qualities he has as a father of affection, compassion, and dedication to his children, I know that it started with his parents.

They are remarkable parents, in such a seemingly normal way, and they ushered my husband into becoming the remarkable man I love.  My husband now has a history that I can’t wait to share with my children as they grow, and I hope my sons continue the trend that started with their grandfather.

I Can’t Love You To Pieces

I live in the south.  Not back-woods south, but an area in the Mid-Atlantic that is more southern than northern.  When it comes time to say something unpleasant about someone, they begin with, “Well, I just love her to pieces, but…”  The ‘but’ might be followed by a really nasty comment, which makes it clear they don’t love each other.  “I just love her to pieces, but she can be a controlling, know-it-all bitch.”

The insults must be followed with, “bless her heart.”  Apparently, the person must have their heart blessed after it has been verbally stabbed.  Sometimes they can be combined into, “Well, bless her heart, because you know I love her to pieces, but I just can’t stand her.”

I met up with a couple moms and kids at the playground last week.  The conversation turned to their moms and all the things that drive them crazy.  It included how the grandmothers don’t follow nap schedules, feed the kid butter sandwiches instead of the healthy packed lunch, and criticize their daughters for failing to maintain a perfect house.  All of these comments started or ended with, “I just love her to pieces.”  These woman do love their moms, and these comments are part of a normal annoying-mom relationship.

Naturally, the woman were looking for me to share.  I told them, “That is what is great about not loving my mom.  There is no pressure.”

Jaws fall open…

Both laughed nervously.  One said, “Come on.  You love your mother.”  I had to explain that I wasn’t kidding.  It wasn’t a cry out.  It wasn’t a confessional lead-in.  It just is exactly as I said it, I don’t love her.

This is challenging for many to understand; it is equally as challenging to completely explain all those years with my mother.  “You just had to be there” fits perfectly.

I don’t deny her existence.  When asked if my mother is alive, my answer is always yes.  I even speak with her on occasion.  Saying I don’t love her doesn’t mean I hate her.  I don’t hate my mother.  I don’t believe my feelings toward her need to be intense; that if I don’t intensely love her, then I must intensely hate her.  I feel empathy for her, because her life has been a continuous battle of both physical and mental illness.   I understand my mom and her illness, and I know she did the best she could given her illness.  But having an understanding, accepting her for who she is, and feeling empathy, doesn’t translate into love.

This hasn’t always been the case – it took years of therapy and self-discovery, and really hard emotional work on my part.  There were times where I let my anger and hate for her destroy all the happiness in my life.  I let it seep into everything in my path.  I used that anger to emotionally attack others, including myself.  I allowed the expectation for love and feeling love for her to translate into sadness and a sense of failure.

Now, I am okay with knowing that it just ‘is.’  I finally let go of the expectation and deep desire that I could have a loving relationship with my mother.  I also came to be okay with the concept that love between family isn’t always innate.  For animals, the relationship between parent and offspring is set.  For humans, the path can vary significantly.  Love is developed between humans, not bred.

Some people like to point out what I gained surviving my mother, which they hope will show me how I should be thankful.  I don’t think I need to be thankful that I survived.  I don’t need to negate every bad experience with a learning experience.  I don’t always need to balance the scale, because I am okay with the bad just as I am okay with the good.

I also don’t give anyone credit for my life other than myself.  My life presented a path, and I chose how to shape it, not my mother. I worked hard to have this life.

This year I won’t walk down the card aisle looking for Mother’s Day cards.  I used to send myself into a sad place as I read the heart-felt messages about moms.  I allowed these cards to serve as a reminder of all the things I was robbed by having a crazy mother.   I allowed it to set expectations for how she should have been.  I would shock strangers as I would openly laugh at the cards and say, “Where is the card about how you ruined my life being a crazy bitch?  Anyone see a card that says that?!?!”

On Mother’s Day, the card I would send is one to myself.  It would say, “Congratulations on being able to create peace and happiness for yourself in such a unique and challenging world.  You know that I love you to pieces.  Bless your heart!  Love, Me”

Let’s Just Keep This to Facebook

I love that everyone is ‘friends’ on Facebook.  This includes the long-lost ‘friend’ from high school that you weren’t even friends with and can’t remember their name (until it comes up on a friend request).  It includes your 70 year old neighbor that you don’t really like, but she did friend request you and you know she knows that you know.  So you ‘friend’ her and then realize she isn’t only annoying in person, but also in written form.  Unless, you really enjoy her Dancing with the Stars commentary immediately following the show.

There is a special category for family.  Everyone has some crazy in their family, but nothing makes it clearer than Facebook.  Distant family updates were always properly controlled through well-staged holiday cards.  You would see how the kids have grown and maybe get a couple sentences of niceties.  You might admire the card, or roll your eyes, and then deposit it nicely in the trash following the holiday.

On Facebook, you get to share their party-going teenager pages with cryptic status updates that you are fairly certain involve something they shouldn’t be doing; and the bizarre and sometimes inappropriate photos. Even worse, is following the parent’s daily updates of their young child’s life of eating and pooping habits.  Although, sometimes I prefer this to the parent that posts hundreds of unflattering pictures (yes, I said it!), which may include having to vote for them in an online photo contest.  Or updates of their child’s ‘achievements’ of building a block tower in attempts to show how smart the child is, which lets you know that the amazing child is the product of a really amazing parent.

It seems that a universal family category is the parent-stalker.  Our parents are in their 60’s.  It took them awhile to figure out Facebook, but now they wouldn’t miss even one update.  Literally, they don’t miss even one while they try to decipher your photos and updates.

My mother in-law – “I saw something on Facebook about you having a bad day at work.  You didn’t quit, did you!?!?  You know you can’t quit your job!”  My husband – “No, mom.  I said, I didn’t want to go to work, because it was the first Monday back from vacation.”  MIL  – “I was just about to mention those vacation pictures!  Do you have a drinking problem, because I saw you holding a beer in your hand?”  Husband – “No, but I might develop one after this call.  Check my status update tomorrow.”

Facebook allows us to have hundreds of ‘friends’ that aren’t even acquaintances in real life.  You don’t run in the same circles or even cross-paths.  Even if you crossed-paths, you might pretend you didn’t see them for fear you would have to share a moment of your life with them.

It is really personal interaction you don’t want to share, because we share all our personal moments with everyone on Facebook.  We share our personal family photo albums, personal thoughts and aspirations, vacations, holidays, celebrations, and political views. I didn’t even know my sister got married, until I got to view her wedding photo album on Facebook.  And now she is expecting!  I inferred from her most recent status updated.

There is no reason to call a person anymore, because they will let you know what they are doing.  This might even include them ‘checking-in,’ which will provide you with a map of their location.  Facebook reminds you of their birthday, so you won’t miss it.  There is no reason to call or send a card, just post on their page.  It would be absurd to call them, because you don’t even really know them and aren’t friends in real-life.  They might immediately ‘unfriend’ if you called them, because you have now entered the Facebook creepy category.

I am not asking for a change.  I already went on Facebook today and I will check it later today.  I will click on the picture of my ‘friend’s’ pregnant belly (due any day now – waiting for the status update!).  I will ‘like’ the updates about being thankful it is Friday, as I see who has amazing plans for a night-out.  I will even know where they are having dinner and the time of their dinner reservation.  Tomorrow, I will read about their weekend plans, as they battle laundry, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, and nagging kids.  This is what we do, we are “friends!”

Remembering Dad

It was my dad’s birthday last week. He is 66 years old now. I didn’t really notice his age until a couple years ago, when he seemed to accelerate to looking old, very tired, and hardened. It was heart-breaking. I saw how fragile he had become and I wondered if he would live into old age.  It is a strange feeling when, as an adult, you look at your parent and see them so vulnerable.

My dad was the eldest son of a Catholic, working-class family. He was a first year Baby Boomer. His father was a POW for over a year during the war. When he returned to my grandmother, they joined the family shoe-store business and started their family. The love affair didn’t last. My grandfather loved to drink. I get the feeling that he probably like to drink with other woman. My father never shared that part of his life.

In all my years with my dad, he only mentioned his childhood a couple times. He told me he wasn’t able to play sports (despite wanting to), because his parents thought the time should be for studying. This is why he enthusiastically supported us in every sport. He told me about rebelling at his strict, Catholic school by throwing spit-balls. He told me he spent every weekend at the library during his junior year in high school.

All that studying worked. My father got academic scholarships to a top university. He put himself through under-graduate and then law school.

During this time, he met my mother. My dad is one of the smartest individuals I have ever met, but deciding to get involved with my mother wasn’t such a smart move.

Due to my mother’s chronic illness, my dad was our only parent. He made all the meals, did all the house-keeping and maintenance, coached our teams, and worked multiple jobs to pay medical bills.  (There were three of us to raise.)  He supported me in everything and anything I did.  He allowed me to rebel and make mistakes.  He loved me when I made choices that I know disappointed him.  I loved talking to my dad and sharing my life with him. He is smart without being a know-it-all.  He is compassionate and in-touch with emotions.  He is logical, practical and creative.  He is ethical and loyal.  He has a wonderful sense of humor.  He is open to everyone – he loves talking to complete strangers and has never gossiped. He is always reading and learning, carrying a bag of books with him at all times (including in the check-out line for groceries).  He is a terrible dancer, but it never stopped him from dancing through the kitchen or getting out on a dance floor.  He can make useful things out of scraps and random items, reinventing them to be more effective and efficient (like his quick-folding car bike-rack made from cords, scrap metal, and duct tape).

When my eldest was born, my dad and son formed an instant bond. My dad got to be a kid again.  He played on the floor, invented games in the yard, took him on long hikes through the woods, and rode bikes for hours. When we visited, they were inseparable.  They had such an incredible bond, and I loved that my son would get to experience all the wonderful things about my dad.

I am skipping over the bad parts, with the ‘bad part’ being my mother.  The ‘bad part’ being a life-sucking, all-consuming force in our life that cast a dark shadow over our lives and experiences.  My deep love and appreciation for my dad kept pulling me back, and I sacrificed myself and family to keep my dad in our lives.

When the ‘bad part’ became too destructive, I had to say good-bye…which included saying good-bye to my dad.  He made it clear that they are a package deal and he didn’t show his best side when I wanted to change the role I played for all those years. This is a situation and choice that is difficult for others to understand.

Grief is a tricky emotion.  It is so intense when you lose someone in your life, but life keeps moving forward and it starts to recede into the background as you make your way through new habits.  Holidays are excruciating at first, but then your kids run down the stairs Christmas morning and you ride the wave through it.  But when that person’s birthday comes along, there is nothing left except to remember them.

I didn’t call my dad on his birthday.  The dad I am writing about isn’t the man I would get on the phone.  I lost him years ago.   So on his birthday, I remember the years we shared.  I celebrate the wonderful things I learned from him.  I dance with my sons in the kitchen, as my dad danced with me.  I read the newspaper front to back, and the kids’ section to my boys.  I talk to strangers. I tell jokes and try not to take myself too serious.  I try to encourage my kids to be open to different beliefs, experiences and people.

Remembering all these things bring appreciation mixed with sadness.  I am still grieving the loss.  I miss him – for the person he was in my life, but also for the person I had hoped he could be in our lives.  I am angry that it isn’t fair or perfect or the life I would want us to have.  I am angry that he was taken from us by her.

Life will keep me moving forward.  The sadness and anger will once again recede.  But today, I just grieve.

Hit Rewind and Erase

I want a do-over of today. I am tired and worn-out. Work has been challenging and exhausting, with a little extra slam-head-against-desk stuff. We have been over scheduled, so the kids haven’t gotten enough rest. We have been stressed at work, so our tempers have been short and the kids haven’t gotten the attention they deserve.

We traveled this weekend, jamming three visits into an eight hour period. Then we jammed ourselves in the car this morning to get home so we could jam a week’s worth of homework and business work into an afternoon. This was mission impossible from the beginning.

It ended with the eldest slamming his door in tears. I yelled at the husband in frustration. The dog hid in her crate. The little one built a fort out of pillows.

Irritation grew and tempers flared as the hours ticked off without getting everything done. Then came more tears as the youngest collapsed to the floor in tears after being ignored all afternoon.  I wanted to collapse in tears too, and I didn’t give him the sympathy he so desperately needed.

Our refrigerator is empty. When I say empty, I mean empty like it is brand-new. It is empty to the point where you could not assemble even a snack, unless you wanted ketchup and mustard straight from the jar. So we ate take-out in silence. The little one feel asleep on his bed, fully clothed, as we were preparing his bath.

Now I am taking a break from the endless list of work I have to complete. A song came on about looking back at the end of your life. I don’t want to look back at today. If I had my way, I would hit rewind, erase, and try it all again.

I know that my life isn’t defined by these tired, frustrated, exhausted moments, but it can be defeating.  Sometimes pushing through the week’s list of endless to-dos just seems to bring on the next week’s list.

I paused the other day as I went to date a check – it is almost the end of April.  I can’t believe the first quarter of this year is gone and I don’t remember enjoying it.  I am always just pushing to get through the week, with the belief that next week will be better.  I realized that I am not trying to rewind – I am on fast-forward.  It is the consistent belief that maybe this part of my movie sucks, so I just need to fast-forward to the next scene.

Even as I write this, I know next week will be better. I will be through our business deal, the homework projects will be turned in, and someone will go to the grocery store (preferably my husband).

I know I can’t live on rewind, because I don’t always like that part of my movie.  (Plus prior scenes have me with very questionable haircuts and bad outfits.) So I’ll just get through the bad parts and keep watching for the next scene.

Everyone be QUIET!!!

Family vacation time! Just 6 1/2 hours in a car together before we start a week of happiness together…

The morning started rocky. We worked late the night before and woke with an endless list of things to get done. My 8 year old told me that I shouldn’t have put off so much for that morning. It was a good point, but not appreciated. With a death stare on my face, I told him he could have packed us and he said, “You didn’t ask me and you didn’t give me a list.” These were also good points. Note to self – 8 year old packs for the next trip. 

For the next two hours, the kids drove us crazy as they walked around with their backpacks on, repeatedly asking if we were leaving soon. By the time we piled into the car, I was ready for a vacation from this vacation.

We set off with an arsenal of movies, the book bags filled with crayons and toys, and plenty of snacks. We would not be defeated! This is a family vacation. We WILL get along.

We made it a total of 25 minutes before the dreaded, “How much longer?” This is a very over-used parent joke. It is a joke I get sick of hearing. And then karma traps you in a car for the next six hours with a kid that is actually saying it. It is not a joke. It is extremely annoying.

At the 45-minute mark, the “I am hunnggrrryy” whining started. The ravenous animals chanted this for the next 10 minutes as they devoured our snack supply.

At the hour mark, they started with, “How many more miles?” This would always be followed by the 4 year old asking us, “How many minutes is that?” It is a challenging question when there are still 300 minutes ahead. They would then do a synchronized sigh. Repeat cycle….for hours. (I was also counting down the miles and evaluating future vacation destinations that I could travel to separately from this pack.)

Two hours into the ride, we pulled off the highway for lunch. This immediately prompted the eldest to demand to know why we were stopping. My 4-year old told my husband five times to, “Stop making wasting our time!” My husband told him we were dropping them off. I realize this may seem inappropriate, but you would have said the same if you were in the same torture chamber.

We survived a greasy, noisy lunch, and turned on another movie. Movies were the key to sanity, but they were failing on this trip. Everyone was complaining. I needed to pee, but my husband was holding me hostage. He drove past many acceptable bathroom locations. Once a person yells they are about to pee their pants, the bladders of all other passengers immediately want to empty. Now all of us were about to pee our pants.

We finally stopped at the store to use the bathrooms. After the stress of almost wetting my pants, I thought we needed some gum and gummy bears. We didn’t make it two minutes before the 4 year old swallowed the gum. I didn’t care. I was desperate. I let them eat gum, swallow it, have gummy bears, and then more gum. I had been worn down.

With my nerves fried, we reached the last 18 miles. Here are the events:

8 Yr Old – Are we almost there? How many miles? Is your GPS right? How do you know it is right? Maybe it is wrong.

Husband – It is right. We only have three more turns. 18 miles.

8 Yr Old – Sigh. When is the first turn?

Merging

8YO – Is this our second turn?

Dad: No

4YO – How many more turns? I can count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

8YO – Stop counting.

Mom: Everyone be quiet!

Dad: That was the second turn.

8YO: When is the next turn?

4YO: How many more miles?

Dad: 17 miles.

4YO: Is that a lot?

4YO: Look mommy, I can stretch my gum all the way to your seat.

Mom: NOOOOO!!!

4YO: Look, we got the last turn. Okay, Daddy?

Dad: No, we are not there yet.

4YO: WHEEEENNNNNN is our next turn?

Dad turns up music and starts signing.

4YO: Look mommy, I can fit this eraser up the dog’s nose!

Mom: NOOOOO!!!

Two minutes pass…

Mom: NOOOOO!!!! (Dog is wearing 4YO’s headphones and eating the video electrical cords.)

Dad: Singing, “I married a wife. She’s been trouble all my life.”

4YO: I am pretending I am watching a movie. Are you pretending you are watching a movie, Mommy?

Mom: Yes.

4YO : What is it called?

Mom: “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts.”

4YO: I am watching, “A Thousand Paper Cuts on Paper.”

8YO: That doesn’t make any sense. Why would a piece of paper have a paper cut?

Mom: Everyone be quiet!

Dad: singing…

4YO: What movie are you watching now, Mommy?

Mom: “Silence of the Children.”

4YO: I am watching, “Trying to Stop Growmn-ups.” You are the growmn-ups. Okay, mommy?

Mom: sigh

8YO: How many more miles?

Dad: 12 miles

4YO: Is that a high number?

Mom: note to self, spend more time on numbers with this kid….

4YO: I want to eat your brain, Mommy!

8YO: You are weird.

Mom: sigh…

4YO: I want to eat your BRAIN! Actually, I am just kidding.

4YO: If I touch the dog right now, will I get electrocuted?

Mom: NOOOOO!!! (Dog is eating electrical cords again.)

Dad: Music up two more levels…

Dad: One more mile! (yelling over the music)

All: YESSSS!!!!

30 seconds….

4YO: How many more miles?

Mom: Seriously need to work on numbers with this kid….

4YO: Daddy, I can’t hear you! What Daddy?

4YO: This dog is cute, but she is mischievous. That means she is up to something.

Mom: Do you know anyone else in this car that is mischievous?

4YO: Yes. It is you mom!

8YO: NO, it is you! (to the 4YO)

Mom: Everyone be quiet!

Destination ahead! Our friends greet us as we fall out of the car.

Friend: Hi! How was the trip?

Mom: eyes wide and shaking head….

Kids: GREEAATTT!

This trip is going to be just perfect.

I Think I See Your….

We live near an amusement park. My eldest is finally tall enough to ride every coaster in the park. So this weekend, in an effort to do “the family thing,” I went to the park. I don’t want to hate amusement parks. I love roller coasters. I love sitting next to my son as he experiences the thrill. The park is beautifully landscaped. Despite these things, I think it is time to admit I really hate these parks. Contributing factors to the negative experience, in no particular order:

  • Teenagers – I admit that I find it hard to tell the difference between 12, 16 and even 20 years old. So I maybe wrong when I think the girls watching towards me, with smoky lined eyes, plunging necklines, and short shorts, are only 8 years old. I think they are shorts because of the material used, but I have seen underwear in similar lengths. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration. They are probably 12 years old. (The underwear thing is not an exaggeration.) Nothing beats the public make-out. The experienced ones can be in a continual state of lock lips while walking. This saves them from missing out on any rides. Also, it can be hard to find a bench that isn’t taken by massive foam pellet filled creatures. The best moments are when I get a semi-private showing while standing behind them in a 45-minute line. Their endurance is amazing. (This is a real picture taken at the park – her hand is on his butt, but I could only fit so much butt into the shot.)

 

  • Turkey legs – There is just something wrong with gnawing on a massive piece of meat while walking in a crowd. I guess it is the perfect snack between stomach-flipping rides, because these turkey gnawers can eat while walking. The leg comes neatly wrapped in a paper, because you would never want to get your fingers dirty while eating such a sophisticated treat.
  • Obscenely Large Stuffed Animals – for only $5 $10 $15 $20, you can take home a massive knock-off cartoon character. This prize comes stuffed with millions of miniature foam pellets that provide hours of enjoyment when scattered through your house and in your carpet. Just think of all the fun this guy will have with his massive Jamaican banana (complete with dreadlocks and a hat)!
  • Repeat Winners of the Obscenely Large Stuffed Things – These distinguished champions win not only one over-stuffed knock-off cartoon character (or piece of fruit), but they win multiple times. The best odds must be in the first couple hours of the park opening, because I always spot these winners and their grand prizes parked on a bench about an hour after opening. I also don’t understand why they don’t take these obscenely large creatures to their vehicles (or trailers – how the hell do they get them home!?!). Imagine five of these in your car:

  • Parents – There is not one time I have been to a park where I don’t see a parent dragging an over-heated, tired, hungry, grumpy child through the park. This past weekend I saw a crying child at the entrance to a ride with a parent yelling, “Do you think we came all this way and paid all this money for you to sit here and cry!?!” I feel bad for these kids. I feel bad for the parents that feel like they have to get the most out of the next 12 hours at the park or that this has to be a memorable family experience together. Go home, find a cool swimming pool, and enjoy…your kids will thank you for it.
  • Water Rides – I find them disgusting. I also don’t care for the water-logged strangers sitting next to me on ‘dry’ rides. The park is smart to create water rides that simulate being on a river in a rustic log-boat, because the water smells like a river…a river that has a decaying, death-like smell. I have gone on these rides (at my own will) and I still don’t understand why I would make that decision. It seems that others are tricked into this, because the wet riders always seem to be dressed in jeans, tennis shoes (with socks), and long-sleeves. This magical water also has the amazing ability to prohibit all clothing from drying in under four hours, especially jeans and socks. But the grand prize goes to children water rides and play areas. You know there is at least one child that is too excited to tell his parents he just pooped his pants.
  • Videographers – In some ways, I love them. They are so excited to be at the hot, crowded, over-priced amusement park that they don’t want to forget even one thing. They diligently film the outside of each ride, the people standing in the lines, flowers, sidewalks, merchandise, and even lovingly accept the countless strangers that grace their screen (even though these strangers often have faces saying – ‘what the hell are you filming!?!?’). But in many ways, I cannot stand these people. They stand right in the middle of the sidewalk, seemingly unaffected by the rush of people pushing past to get into their next line. Can you imagine sitting in their living room, watching hours of strangers on benches with big stuffed bananas, gnawed turkey legs, under-dressed teenagers, melting down children, make-outs, and mildewed strangers? Pure torture.
  • People – It isn’t that I hate each individual and it isn’t personal. I just hate the group of individuals that form the group of ‘people’ at an amusement park. There is something about these parks that prohibits normal human interaction. There is a consistent, frenzied rush to the next ride line, food line, or steal-your-money game. It is survival of the ‘amusement park fittest’ and all others must be conquered. There is no time to say hello, smile, or talk to other people. The fences, ropes and endless lines force us become territorial and hyper-focused on those trying to circumvent the system – you not cutting in front of ME! It is a slow torture to stand in the heat while only taking one step every two minutes (you must move forward even if it is only one step, because it is critical to claiming your territory). It is nearly impossible to endure the endless lines for entrance, food, and rides, plus the screaming kids and adults, while still being a wonderful person…even if you don’t smell like a decaying river.


(I can’t explain this – a giant Pokemon Pikachu character. It was not Halloween.)