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Part I
Part II

Because I am not only stupid, but dumb too, I can’t back down from a fight.

I tried once, but it broke my arm.

So when I started getting the hairy eyeball for daring to sit on an unoccupied chair adorned with an unused beach towel, my fake-rock bruised ass was absofuckinglutly ready for the Thunderdome. Wearily, I hummed Eye of the Tiger and was all “I know EXACTLY what roadkill feels like” as the entire row of vultures, er, people in the chairs in front of me got up, one by one, and began to form a semi-circle around one man who appeared, from my vantage point, to be as tall as he was wide. By their goat-eyed stares, I assumed they were either talking about me, or the kid in the glasses in the corded-off area behind me devouring an ice cream sundae using absolutely no silverware at all.

Honestly, I couldn’t blame the group if the kid were the target – that’s pretty impressive.

street fighting woman

The staring contest persisted far past my comfort level, and when bordering on “abject annoyance,” my opponent made himself known. Hoisting up jean shorts purchased (assuming) deliberately in size “comically large,” he waddled over to me. Not because he was overweight; not a bit, but because his pants were so enormous they needed their own area code and walking as a normal human being would have been damn near impossible. Nevertheless, he deliberately made every attempt to appear as though he was swaggering all macho toward me, which made him seem about as hardcore as Grimace or Big Bird. It was clear he was posturing in front of his crew and all 63,027,182 children in the pool, so I let him have his moment. Clearly, waddling is hardcore work, so it took him a good few minutes to travel the twenty feet to me; the one I’d “stolen” after I’d finished my days work of mercilessly butchering baskets of fluffy kittens, insulting a wee baby piglet in rain boots, and knocking over teacups filled with incy-wincy hedgehogs.

By the time he actually reached me, he was sweating so profusely that it looked for a small moment that the tattoo across his neck said, “Booby,” instead of “Baby.” Maybe that “art” was intentional – I’m not a fucking tattoo artist. Because I am also physically incapable of making a good decision, I stood up tall and proud as he tried to squash me with his eyeballs … this time from a closer distance. What he had misjudged as he postured before his crew was something very simple: I was easily half a foot taller than him. While this may seem a moot point, I’m sad to report that I’m only 5’5″ which does not a hulking Amazonian princess make. His eyes widened as I stood – I was even taller in the heels I was wearing.

It was clear he’d not thought this through. But could he back down in front of his crew? Could he? Could he be beaten into submission by a female? I wasn’t sure and, I like to think, neither was he. He got into my face to see if the whole “personal bubble” thing would, I don’t know, knock down and cause me to whimper for sweet mercy at his flippity-flops. I’d have said, “Ha, I have kids, motherfucker. I can’t even take a poo without someone trying to clamor up onto my lap,” but it was too fucking loud to communicate.

As we sized each other up and down and back up again, his eyes began tearing, which I’d initially attributed to fear, but in hindsight, was probably due to the heavily chlorinated air, he made his decision: he could. He COULD back down. There was no place, it appeared, for a street fighting (wo)man in this waterpark. Which was just as well – I didn’t want to brawl in front of my kids.

With that sad, sad realization, shame mingled with the sweat now traveling down his pants, making him appear to have pissed himself, he did a Waddle of Shame back to his friends, but not before he grabbed the free beach towel off the back of the chair, his eyes daring me brawl over the free towel. I simply stared, undeterred.

Once he was safely back into his pack of still-glaring friends, I settled back into the tacky beach chair, eyes squarely on my kids – well, two of them – no one’s returned my call about cosmetic surgery to add a third eye. Eyes daring between the three kids, I waved at Mimi who was happily splashing in the wave pool that was, no doubt, full of the pee of a thousand diapered asses, and smiled, no idea that evil was about to hit so very close to home.

Dun-dun-dunnnnnnn.

 Part IV of this omfg-stop-talking-about-your-stupid-vacation-already-Becky will conclude this series. EVENTUALLY.

Part I

After wandering through the endless labyrinth of badly-carpeted halls while lugging the absolute most amount of crap I’ve ever packed for a trip, finally, we reached our room. The kids, by this time, were weeping from hunger, and I’d begun to shake although I couldn’t say for certain if it was low blood sugar, horror at the prices of a cup of entirely mediocre coffee, or as an aftereffect of the cacophony of the lobby. Eyes set forward on an unfixed mark way down at the end of the hallway, I set my mouth into a thin line and said to no one in particular, “We’d better get there fucking soon.”

The kids nodded tearfully.

Standing in front of our room, dutifully, I whipped out the packet the guy at the front desk had slithered to me as he mumbled this or that. For all I know, I’d just agreed to let him harvest my kidneys in exchange for my keys – it was too loud and I’d left all the fucks to give in my other pants. Into the tiny folder I went, fingers scouring for that telltale plastic edge to simultaneously give me a paper(plastic?)cut and let me know that I’d gotten the implement that’d allow me to laze about in my underwear for the next two days.

Nothing.

Nada.

Confused, I put down the 37 stuffed animals and “special” blankets my children insisted were too heavy to carry, and searched with my eyeballs this time. Again. Nothing. A couple’ve plastic wrist bands for the kids but nothing that would allow me access to my room.

Well, fuck.

Briefly, I considered sitting down on my luggage and having a good old fashioned cry, but realized that it’d have just given me a worse headache than the hibiscus carpet and fuck-you-in-the-eyeballs paint on each wall already had.

Then, I looked down at the gigantic, orange band that looked as though it’d been thoughtfully regifted by the local penitentiary. I remember the dude at the front desk mumbling something at me about those particular bands, but unless he’d looked at me directly in the face, two inches from touching eyeballs and screamed, there was no way I was hearing dick. Hell, I already had ringing in my ears from merely hanging out in the lobby.
Stupidly, I did something that was probably going to cost me a good mocking for the rest of the vacation: I held my wrist up to the door like some wanna-be psychic. I whispered, “enter sesame,” although I didn’t even begin to understand why.

Click-whirr-click

Green light.

The door opened.

I’d like to say that balloons and streamers, possibly a hot guy in a cake popping out from somewhere, as calliope music filled the hall, but that’d be a lying lie. With absolutely zero pomp OR circumstance, we entered our room. My first thought was “wow, Panama Jack ejaculated everywhere,” followed quickly by, “there’s no door to the bathroom.” I shrugged at the last bit and vowed NEVER to carry a blacklight with me – if Panama Jack boofed anywhere, I’d rather be none the wiser then huddled in a plastic hefty bag.

The third thought that tumbled out was, “it smells like poo in here,” which I immediately wrote off as being par for the course – this was a kid’s resort, kids poo, kids often poo in the wrong places, and like second-hand smoke, it was probably just one of the delightful treats of staying at a kid-friendly hotel.

My father came into our room, gruffly told us to put on pants (which, had he looked, he’d have noticed were squarely on our bodies) so that we could go out to dinner. At that moment, I nearly hugged him. Dinner was everything you’d expect in a cheesy faux-tropical hell – bland, expensive, but with kicky (read: corny) names. Not one of us complained – we were so hungry that the Aye-Aye-Matey Burger tasted cardboard; delicious cardboard.

By that time, my mother and my eldest had arrived and quickly we switched to our swimsuits and headed downstairs for a late-night swim. And, it turns out, we were about to be schooled in the Ways of a Tacky Waterpark. The instructions, posted absolutely nowhere, included:

  • Letting your kid unattended in the pool is a great idea, especially so you can enjoy your alcoholic beverage
  • Unattended children will attack your attended children with the ferocity of a thousand angry suns and you can’t do much about it unless you want to brawl
  • Pooing is okay in the pool so long as no one claims it
  • You should take every item you own and drape them over all of the chairs surrounding the pool, in the event that your fifty-sixth cousin from Brazil comes in to the States unannounced, somehow locates you at the water park, and would like to sit down

Feverishly, I wished that I drank alcohol for the 37th time in an hour and a half as I sat in the pool area, bombarded by inhuman noises that seemed to rattle the inside of my skull. I tried tuning them out. No luck. I tried listening over the din to Jimmy Buffet, wishing I could shove that cheeseburger down his smug motherfucking throat. Didn’t help. People-watching only reminded me that I needed to shave.

One by one, I pulled Alex and Amelia out of the pool, thanking the powers that be for dominant jeans and together, we shivered back into the room.

“It smells like poo in here,” I remarked to absolutely no one – which is precisely who responded to my statement – as we readied ourselves for bed. One by one, we began to drift off into sleep, the delicate scent of an oddly-fresh pile dook playfully tantalizing our nostrils. I dreamed that night about a poo-flavored air freshener and woke early to cheerful pounding at the door. Blearily, I answered the door, knowing full well my nipples were on display through my sleep shirt – I was, once again, fresh out of fucks to give.

My dad, looking as though he’d just smoked a gallon of meth and was examining the wall to see the individual paint molecules moving about, greeted me: “GOOD MORNING, REBECCA,” he boomed. “READY TO GO SWIMMING AGAIN?”

No. The answer was no. I wanted coffee, a nap, and possibly a chocolate-chip muffin. I did not want to go swimming. Not even for a second.

But the kids were clamoring around my feet, all doe-eyed and sweetly inquiring if I’d please, oh very please, ma’am take them to the pool. I wondered for half a second how my kids had learned the phrase “ma’am” and then decided I didn’t much give a shit. Drinking hotel coffee swill, I grasped the hand of each of The Littles and off we trotted to the pool.

Nearly bowled over by the stench of chlorine, the kids made a beeline for pool and I looked around for a place to plop my ass. No way in fuck I was going to showcase my dimply white ass in the pool to a bunch of strangers which; now that I think on it, would be better than showing it off to my friends.

ANYWAY.

Chairs mysteriously taken by “beach” towels that appeared to have no owner, we took turns hovering over a rock, my parents and I, until my mother finally said “Fuck THIS” and plopped her ass onto a towel-covered chair. Hobbled, my bruised ass followed suit. Which is when the glares began. The front row of chairs circled the pool, making it an ideal place to watch your kids, if, in fact, that was your goal. It did not appear to be the goal of anyone in the front row, as they stumbled around, clearly intoxicated. As someone who refers lovingly to her children as “crotch parasites,” I am by no means a helicopter parent, but I do want to know where the shit my kids are if they’re in a gigantic pool (Read: DANGER) so this apathy toward children baffled me.

As no one appeared to be drowning, I sat back to live and let live. Which was, apparently, not shared by the guest’s whose chair I “stole.” A pack of people stood up from the front row, glaring at me, shouting to one another, while staring at me as though my skull make a nice trophy hanging on the wall of a rec room.

I stared back, undeterred.

They made their move.

I stood my ground.

Sorry, Pranksters, but Part III will air soon. I’m still getting used to writing all day, every day.
Gotta get my groove back on.

Growing up, my parents weren’t much for amusement parks. They considered them to be beneath us, and every time I begged to visit one of those stop-n-drop carnivals set up around the outskirts of town, they shuddered notably and gave me a long lecture about how unsafe these things were. Considering the most hardcore attraction was a merry-go-round, I didn’t quite buy the bullshit. I don’t think I visited a Great America until I was in my early 20′s and when I did, I was horrified. The throngs of people, half of whom looked as if they’d slithered out from some rock somewhere were everywhere: peeing on things in public, pushing me out of line, and screaming at their children using words I didn’t even know existed. The five dollar, ten ounce cup of lukewarm Diet Coke hardly seemed worth the price until I realized there were no drinking fountains in the park appeared to have been sexually molested by one of those old dudes who troll around in the Child Napping vans, slowly creeping by playgrounds at 0.5 miles an hour. Half an hour into my first trip to Six Flags, I agreed with my parents – amusement parks were TOTALLY not my thing.

Which is what makes it all the more shocking.

A couple of weeks back, I got a call out of the blue from my mother. Immediately assuming someone had died, I answered the phone, panic rising.

My mom: “Hey Rebecca*, Dad had an idea.”

My father, now retired, is rife with ideas, such as “let’s organize the books in the house using the Dewy Decimal system” while my mother watches, mouth agape in horror.

Me (groans): “Yeah?”

My mom: “How would you like to take the kids to a water park?”

Me (looks outside): “Uh, Ma, isn’t it a bit… WINTER for that?”

My mom (laughs): “We were thinking of an INDOOR water park. There’s one up by Great America.”

Me: “Um, okay. I bet the kids’ll love it.”

And so the grand plans were hatched. Being a moron, I didn’t bother to ask my parents WHAT particular water park they’d intended to take us to, so when we got there, a few short weeks later, I was completely taken aback. The place was a sprawling monstrosity, the parking lots abutting it reminded me of a litter of piglets nursing a particularly ugly mother. I’d prepared myself for the very-real likelihood that one of us, at the very least, would walk away from this trip teeming with worms and other Oregon Trail diseases. Secretly, I’d been hoping to get a tapeworm from the trip, whom I’d already named Sally, because of COURSE you name something that’s slowly killing you from the inside out, but that’s neither here nor there.

For all the packing I’d done, for all the times I had to reassure my kids that this would be happy! happy! fun! time! nothing could’ve prepared me for what lay inside.

Armed with bags and blankets and backpacks and stuffed animals (the kids are on a stuffed animal kick – it’s almost like they can sense my dislike of those creepy fucking things with the eyes that watch you everywhere you go and probably sneak around the house when I’m asleep, stealing socks and pants and peeing on things), we trudged through the falling snow and grey mushy sleet inside. It was like walking into hell. Jimmy Buffet sang loudly about drinking margaritas and whatever it is that guy does besides drink margaritas over the constant din of shrieking and splashing, the chlorine in the air so heavy I was nearly bowled over. Everywhere I turned, it was flamingo shirts, gaudy “island” decor; fake tropical flowers dripping from every possible surface, squalling children who did not come from my crotchal area weaving in and out of my legs, parents nowhere to be seen. It was like a gaudy tropical resort threw up all over a large hotel in the Midwest.

I was not prepared for this. I was never going to be prepared for this. Ever. I simultaneously regretted and applauded my lazy decision not to turn to Dr. Google for the name of the water park. I couldn’t have prepared for this.

Neither, I should add, were my children, who stood in shock flanking my sides. Alex looked up at me, eyes wide, as he grabbed my leg and held on for dear life. Mimi, the more brave of the two, took a moment to gauge her surroundings before she buried her head into my guts, nearly knocking me over with the force of a terrified five-year old. My father soon joined the three of us, still standing in the entryway, the sound of the automatic doors whooshing open and shut barely audible over the cacophony.

Never one to pass up a Clark Griswold moment, he broke the silence with, “What the fuck is this place?”

We just stared at him, eyes wide, the sound of pseudo-reggae raping our ears as the chlorine choked our throats. Slowly, I shook my head.

“I…” I started, looking around as though blinders had been lifted from my eyes, “I don’t know.”

And with the chords of “Freebird,” starting up against the wall of noise, began our first family vacation.

———————–

*My parents loathe the name “Becky” and refuse to address me as anything other than “Rebecca,” which means that every time I hear it, I assume I’m in trouble.

Part II on Monday!
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