We drove past our local amusement park — Kennywood — yesterday while out and about. Usually, seeing the hill of the Phantom’s Revenge jutting out from the park, appearing to touch the clouds, barely fazes me, but yesterday it kind of shocked me with a thrill. Maybe because it’s about to open in two months and I’m about over this whole snowy weather prison sentence. Soon, they’ll de-winterize the park: tarps will come off and gates will open, affording a new wave of teenage girls the opportunity to give blow jobs under the pavilions. (Hopefully, some bolt-tightening action will take place somewhere along the line too.)
In anticipation for a new season of giving Henry gray hairs at amusement parks, here’s my all-time favorite Kennywood entry.
June 17, 2007
What better way to honor my favorite motion-sensitive father than by orchestrating an afternoon at Pittsburgh’s little amusement park, Kennywood? I even paid for him. I know, try and wrap your head around that one. I know!
I allowed Janna to join us, so that I could have a riding partner while Henry played stroller chauffeur. Clearly I was having a lapse in judgment at the time I extended my invitation to her, because she’s a big crybaby when it comes to 75% of the park’s rides and she’s near-deaf so I have to activate my echo. I think that sometimes she just pretends to hear me, because she’ll smile and laugh, but her eyes are screaming, “Help us, help! We’re so confused! Did she make a joke or is she postulating seriously about Darfur? I don’t know! Just laugh anyway! OK!” My favorite is when she laughs and then moments later asks, “Wait—what?”
This strange phenomenon plagues my conversations with Henry, too, although I have strong evidence backing the fact that he’s just ignoring me.
When we came last year, Riley was too young to ride anything other than the boring, waste-of-fifteen minutes train ride, but this time he boasted the ability to advance on foot at a moderate pace, albeit changing direction more times than a pinball. I had the pleasure of escorting him on his inaugural ride, a watered down roller coaster that took all of five seconds to whir around a wavy track before the miserable employee pulled back the brake and asked us in his best Ben Stein impression if we wanted to ride again. I really didn’t because it was a lot jerkier than I imagined it would be and I bruise easy, but I didn’t want to infer any wrath of the inner city children behind me.
I kept a protective arm around Riley and watched his face the entire time: his expression never faltered. He was stoic, with his lips set in a straight, firm line; it was as if he only came on the ride based on a threat and he’d be damned if he was going to let any tears run loose.
After the second lap — which was shaky at best — Riley and I were the first to exit, putting me in charge of the daunting task of unlatching the exit gate. When it became clear that my attempts were going to continue to be feeble, the mom behind me reached over my shoulder and flipped the latch, saving us all. Thank god for moms like that; you know, the ones who can open things.
We let Riley conquer a ride that featured helicopters and flying saucers which circled around while rising and lowering for about thirteen thousand boring rotations. Every time his saucer would pass our stakeout at the fence, he’d purposely ignore us. He’d wave and acknowledge all the other parents, though. I’m so glad my fourteen-month-old son is already mastering the art of snubbing.
Some more here
He didn’t crack a smile on that one, either. Obviously, Kennywood is serious business for my son. He might as well have been riding the bus to work, that’s how much disdain was clouding his face.
We took him on some other rides too, but he was mainly just interested in trying to get himself kidnapped. Stranger danger, what now?
The air that day was heavy with humidity, the kind of weather that leaves a sebaceous film over your face. The kind of salty film that’s best served with some Italian bread. The kind of film that springs forth when you’re knocking back a few in the corner pub and a traveling banjo player comes in and sits at the bar next to you and he isn’t really that good-looking and kind of has a noxious, perma-stench of cabbage emanating from his pits and his tongue is coated with slime, but after your third whiskey he looks mildly inoffensive so you lure him out the back with a theoretical bone of “Hey, play that banjo for me out in the alley, you hot piece of asshole-love” and then you lock the back door after him and bludgeon him with your prosthetic leg and then fuck his dead body in a dumpster. You know, that kind of film?
What better way to hose down the oil slick and neutralize Janna’s body odor than by hopping in line for a water ride? The Log Jammer’s line looked nonthreatening in length, but we were deceived. We had the awesome luck of standing behind a guy who had his name tattooed on the back of his neck in a very effeminate script. Janna thought it said “Jocko,” I thought it said, “Fucko,” but it really said…Oh my God, I completely don’t give a fuck.
At one point, I had that sensation that I was about to be assassinated. You know? My eyes darted all though the surrounding trees and I hoarsely alerted Janna to the situation. Of course she didn’t hear me, making me repeat the sensitive information even louder. I don’t think she heard me correctly, because she cheerfully shouted, “Oh my god, you should totally be an assassin!”
Sure, that would be the perfect profession for me! I mean, if there was suddenly a high demand for obvious assassins. Can you imagine, me and all that grace I lack? “Heeheehee, there’s my target!” while my flip-flops would be slapping all over the place, alerting my target to my presence, even if they were semi-deaf like Janna. “Heeheehee, oh my God lining up my target inside these crosshairs makes me have to pee so bad! Ha ha ha!”
Yeah, Janna. Good one.
Oh boy, did Janna and I have quite the romantic journey in our log jammer. We hadn’t even gone down any hills yet and she was already asking me if I was wet. I have to admit, I was a little uncomfortable at the sexual connotations she was slinging.
“Are you wet yet? Did you get wet? Have you been caressed with the wetness?”
Jesus Christ, Janna! Yes, my skin is slightly lubricated after that last bend. Would you like to borrow some?
What the fuck?!
I had low expectations from the moment Kennywood’s turnstiles molested our pelvises, because Janna and Henry are both adamantly anti-spin. No thrill rides for them, it might aggravate their arthritis and make them paint backs of heads with their lunch.
But after the Log Jammer we came upon my favorite ride in Kennywood, the Aero360. All the other death traps can suck a fucking dick as far as I’m concerned. Especially the ones that think they’re hot shit, like that asshole that calls itself SwingShot. I took a few moments to pause and salivate, nearly genuflecting to really bring it home. Then I gave Janna some killer puppy dog eyes.
“No, Erin. Oh no, I already told you I won’t ride that!”
There were only six people in line. I could have spit on her. Then I looked up at the occupants currently enjoying being flung in the air like bean bags and took note that most of them were children. Children.
I used this as leverage.
“Janna, you douche, how the fuck are you going to be a teacher when you won’t even ride the same rides as your could-be students?” I dug my nails into the back part of her arm so she would see just how serious I really was.
This is not true. I’m not really that mean to Janna. Not right off the bat, anyhow. I lured her into line by ensuring her that mothers had been known to take their infants for a trip on the good ol’ Aero360 so really, what did she have to be afraid of?
She took careful notes as we stood in line, even counting how many rotations the ride engaged in. I answered all her whiny, fear-scented questions with emphatic nos, even when I knew in my heart that I should be hyena-ing maniacal yess all up in her grill while spraying her with laughter-launched torrents of spit.
I saved all of my sinister and cruel needling for when we were already strapped securely into our seats and there was nowhere for her to take refuge. I really lucked out when a group of four older people sat in our section and showed interest in sharing my feast of Janna’s fear.
We screamed your standard caveats of Your harness is coming undone! and Did you hear those bolts shooting out?! along with things tailored more specifically to Janna, like Die, die, die you fucking ho-bag penguin dick-sucker, you fucking dumb ass ugly hooker fucker! and You smell like the used up, soggy, saliva-drenched reed from a clarinet played by a homeless Albanian with AIDs, you fucking whore-tits!
I’m not sure if she could hear any of that over top of her own funeral dirge, though.
My favorite part was when the ride was over and I bolted, while Janna took her good old time reacquainting her feet with terra firma and searching for her sunglasses in the loose items box. I found Henry and together we watched as Janna emerged from the gate. Her face started out lax, then tensed up a little in an expression of fear, then hardened as she figured out she had been purposely ditched and thought, “Hey, fuck this, where are they?”
Cue Henry with the lecturing. “Go and get her, don’t be so mean,” he said as he nudged my shoulder. Can I ever have fun? I mean, really.
After I fetched Janna, I insisted on reliving the experience as we were suspended limply and helplessly, upside down and like, a lot of feet from the ground.
“Wasn’t it invigorating? Like showering in a natural spring?” Janna vehemently disagreed, but maybe I should have mentioned the coconut-bikini. Sometimes, fruity-tits make all the difference in the world.
Then we rode some other things, stood around looking lost, I removed a tampon. You know, really Fun Stuff.
Finally, Janna had tired of having her intestines jostled and suggested that Henry and I take a gander together. I immediately tugged on his arm and ooh’d like an ape, while he simultaneously asked, “Is there a ride where I get to stab her with a knife?”
We opted on a roller coaster, the Thunder Bolt. It’s a good thing that the line was only about two minutes long, because I was floundering on the conversation tip. Henry was in one of those moods where he’d rather be refueling an air plane and killing pet ducks in Panama, and those are things that I sadly just can’t give him. So instead he had to listen to me prattle on about the employees’ water bottles that were propped up across the tracks and did he think they washed them out every night?
I guess the fact that I perpetually whined about how I wished I was there with Christina and not him didn’t really inspire him to contribute to the conversation.
Then it was our turn to ride and I was super concerned about the safety of his glasses, which he stuffed down his shirt like a bra-padder, and I don’t think he appreciated it at all. He was in such a big hurry to get off the ride that he ran right in to some innocent little girl and never even paused to ensure she didn’t skin a knee.
He got his pay back toward the end of the night when we were standing in line for this really stupid and boring car ride that I thought my son would enjoy but silly me, I keep forgetting that my kid only takes pleasure in things like socking me in the mouth and the opening theme of “Days of Our Lives.”
So there was this dumb bitch in front of us; she was, oh I don’t know, seven maybe? This ride demands that you must have a partner in order to make people like Janna remember how loserish they really are, and this particular girl was in a tizzy because her mom hadn’t joined her in line yet. Finally, she approached us (and after finally seeing her, I realized the delay was surely because she was underneath a pavilion, smoking the crack pipe) and the little girl asked Henry if it was OK for her mom to cut ahead of us. She even batted her eyes, which annoyed me. I hate girls that remind me of myself!
Initially, Henry said it was OK, but then he jokingly sneered, “What if I said no?” because he really knows how to charm the pants off the pre-teen set. The girl discarded her apple pie demeanor in favor of a haughty stance and wicked glare.
“I don’t think that would be a problem,” she hissed. I waited for her to launch Henry back against a tree with the sheer power of the hate radiating from her Village of the Damned eyes.
And then I wanted ice cream and Henry foiled my plan, which made the walk back to the car a very long, embittered one. Now I know how Jesus felt. I’ll never forget how my beloved Aero360 looked on the cusp on our departure, all lit up against the mauve sky, like Kennywood’s own little whore house on the Sunset Strip.
Later that night, Henry recounted all the gay ass homemade t-shirts he saw various men wearing. You know, the sort that boasts — in an array of cracked puffy paint — how many apples they have on the tree, or flowers in the garden, and hooray for fathers, let the world never run dry of them. Sorry Henry, I didn’t have enough time, what with working full time, nurturing our son, and you know, updating all five billion of my blogs. Maybe next year I’ll darn you some socks.