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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!
If you have an awesomely hilarious and/or ridiculous guest post you’d like to post, email me! becky.harks@gmail.com and we’ll get ‘er done.

Unemployment can cause crazy things to happen in a person’s life. Sometimes, you get lazy and sleep all day and do nothing. At all. You’re just so down about life kicking you in the ball (I only have one) that you don’t really even wanna try looking for another job. You just wanna a suckle of the government tit and hope for the best.

Sometimes people end up having crazy relationships with their pets. I’ve found myself in this predicament. Every. single. day. I talk to my dog. All day long. Not like you’d normally talk to a pet, like “good boy” or “sit, doggie, sit,” or even “no! don’t shit on the couch!”

No.

I have long conversations with my dog about applying for jobs. I mean, he’s one of my best friends so he knows me well, right? So we have long and meaningful conversations about life. He and I have started discussing how he’s going to react when my wife and I adopt a child. He’s okay with the idea, as he was himself was adopted. He’s just worried that when the baby arrives, he’s going to be put on the back burner; he doesn’t think he’ll be relevant anymore. I assure him that everything will be fine but he says he’s going to wait and see what happens when the baby actually arrives.

NORMAL STUFF, right?

I’ve started to watch or rewatch TV shows. But, as I started watching some of these shows I noticed that I didn’t want to be reminded of being unemployed and I didn’t want my entertainment to be kind of a downer. So I suggested to my wife that we watch her favorite show. The one show that I always said that I wouldn’t watch again… EVER.

FRIENDS.

What man would say “I want to watch FRIENDS” without a gun pointed at his head? Well, I remember watching it back when it was on TV with my mom and thought it was funny. It still has to be somewhat funny right?

It is. I’m shamed to admit that I’m highly enjoying watching this show. I kinda feel I need my man-card revoked. My wife and I have plowed through two seasons already and are not showing any signs of slowing. Yes, it’s a sitcom. There is a laugh track and the jokes are predictable but right now? That’s what I need. I need something I know is going to be good during this time of uncertainty. I don’t wanna spend two weeks watching Battlestar Galactica and have every single muscle in my body tensed up when Starbuck shows back up on the show. Spoiler, I guess, but if you haven’t watched it, I’m well outside the statute of limitations on spoilers for shows that have ended. So suck it.

All I want after a hard day of sending off resumes, going to interviews, and laying around the house trying not to be lazy is a good solid hour and a half of funny friends having crazy, predictable, funny stuff happen to them. Hence, Friends.

Also, this blog was going to focus more on conversations with my dog, but through our conversations, I found out that he can kind of be a dick. I didn’t want to give him a bad reputation.

————————

ED NOTE: JASON, I NEED YOUR BIO! Until then,

Jason is an unemployed web developer who likes to ride unicorns and shit gold in his spare time. He likes to have deep and meaningful conversations with condiments and always enjoys wrestling in a vat of baked beans. You cannot find him here or here. No seriously, he’s not here at all.
 

Working in Chicago (as opposed to NOT Chicago), I tend to see a lot of weird shit. Like the circulating saw blade out in front of my office next to the rusty razor blade, which I took one look at, thought “Someone should do something about that,” realized that there was no way in hell I was going to be that somebody and went about my day. And the strange pattern of tweens attaching stuffed animals to their backpack confounds me – are they storing meth in there or something?

I work in a building full of former lofts that was probably once a sweatshop back in the days of wine and roses… *looks wistfully into the sunset* While my office is the one of two on the floor, the floor above me is home to one huge office that I’m halfway convinced trains elephants and reenacts historic Civil War battles.

Since I have to commute about 45 miles to and from the office, my journey begins at the ungodly hour of six in the morn’ (did you know that there’s a six in the morning? ME EITHER). By the time I’m in the office, I’m either so jacked up on caffeine that I’m vibrating or I’m nodding out from my train ride so I probably wouldn’t notice if the floor above me began to reenact famous battle scenes in my own office.

I was practically nodding out on my way in last Wednesday; so out of it that I’d tried repeatedly to enter an office down the block (which turned out to be a home) and nearly tweeted something about how I heart Justin Bieber.

Yeah. I know.

Through the sleep in my eyes, I punched the door code and stumbled into the foyer of the building, eyes on the prize. Or, in this case, the elevator. As I approached I noted that I was not alone in my desire to ascend floors and groaned inwardly. Not because I hate people but because I was fearful I might blurt out “Blergy-poo-Lady-Gaga” in response to “Good morning!”

We stood semi-quietly waiting for the elevator and the gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He’s one of those guys you can’t help but like, all smiles and witty banter, and I instantly forgave him for speaking to me before I had my coffee* because he was just that awesome. We chattered and chittered our way upstairs where he wished be good luck on my day as I bid him farewell.

It was then that I noticed what was probably the awesomest thing EVER to be carrying around.

There, nestled in his arms was not a backpack or ottoman. It wasn’t a bird, plane, or Superman. No.

It was a life-sized bendy-looking model penis. Complete with balls. It wasn’t – I don’t believe – a dildo, it appeared to be intended for use as a teaching device, but I couldn’t be sure. I mean, how do you say, “NICE DONG!” to someone you’ve just talked about sparkly Uggs with?

I spent the rest of the day feverishly wishing I’d had a model penis to lovingly carry around with me. It could be my new friend! We could go on adventures together! I’d call him Stampy and we’d be the very best of best friends! It was a beautiful daydream ripped apart by learning that those types of teachable penis models do not come cheaply.

But hey. At least I learned that they’re probably not reenacting historic battles replete with cannons upstairs.

They’re probably recreating all the light saber scenes from Star Wars.

With model penises.

*I fired my Thermos for poor job performance

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