When my wife and eldest daughter took a trip to Los Angeles last September for a wedding, I decided to take my younger daughters, Jessika and Monika, to an unspecified waterpark. Fortunately they had a good time there, but I must concede that I didn’t have the greatest experience.
First, we parked what seemed like 170 miles away in the vast parking lot. Once I got into the lobby I paid an arm and a leg to get a room and they slapped some red wristband on me as if I were in a concentration camp or something. Then my kids whisked me away into the pit of hell: the indoor water park. Everyone and their dog must have come to Kalahari that weekend (though dogs weren’t allowed in the whirlpools). I was looking forward to a comfortable rest in a whirlpool when, to my horror, I see this beer-bellied guy with two children under the age of two having too much fun. “Sir, can you make sure your kids fill the Jacuzzi with another third of urine before I enter.” Well, I came close to saying that, but that’s what I was thinking.
I came across another cesspool of humanity when I climbed with my kids to the top of the raft ride: a bunch of tattooed, potbellied white dudes with beer and bikini-clad bimbos. I thought: “Give me the whiff of burnt rubber and that’s all part of my NASCAR fantasy”—though I didn’t know I had such a fantasy until then. My kids and I made the long trek up the waterslide tower outside. Only after waiting in line for an eternity did we discover that they wouldn’t take the double raft we carried up onto the “yellow” ride. By now I was pissed. I felt like ending it right there and jumping 100 feet to my death, but that wouldn’t make a good impression on my kids. I swore right then that I’d stick around in this vale of tears at least until they get through college, which probably won’t happen now because I had just spent their college fund at Kalahari....er, I mean, at an unspecified waterpark.
Later in the evening Jessika and Monika wanted to watch girlie stuff on TV. I grabbed a book from my knapsack and took the elevator down to the lobby. I plopped down on a sofa chair in the “elephant lounge” of the main lobby where I was about to get into a good book on antisemitism, as I’m sure you would do on a vacation, when I heard some guy ostensibly singing and playing guitar in the restaurant near the lobby. Hearing his guitar strumming ability, I assumed he must have had a few fingers amputated. I thought to myself: “Maybe he lost them in some industrial accident and now was cursed to make a living by playing songs with all the life sucked out of them.” The cover of Johnny Cash was obligatory, I suppose, but when he cut into an acoustic rendition of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” my thoughts, as Hamlet said, “be bloody, or be nothing worth!” So I went back up to our room on the fourth floor and found that Ella Enchanted had ended but the kids were now engaged in a Disney teenybopper sitcom “That’s So Raven.” I consoled myself by putting some of those little shampoo and lotion bottles into my suitcase. I’ll get something out of this, you sons of Bs!
The next day, Labor Day, it rained. The African deities didn’t smile on me. Now, after mortgaging my kids’ future with the cost of the hotel, they wanted to go out to eat. The snacks I brought didn’t go the distance: beef jerky and peanuts. So we drove across the other end of the Dells from Kalahari in search of a particular fast-food joint that we wanted. So I guess that means we reached Timbuktu, but it in fact ended up being the blue hills of Kentucky because the hillbilly cast from Deliverance was evidently serving the meals. It was lunchtime and the traffic was awful. I felt myself wanting to pull a gun out of the glove compartment, but I reminded myself that I wasn’t in L.A. anymore. Life is hell, but at least my kids had a great time.