03 August 2006

I Go to Amusement Parks Sometimes: Hurricane Hell

As much as I loathe "Dear Kitty"-style, personal-experiencey entries on this "'blog," from time to time one has an experience that demands recording. This is one of those times.

A long time ago, yesterday, my boyfriend, Jeph; his sister, Kerry; her daughter, Phoebie; our pal, Kikkoman; and I; went to Six Flags! Hurricane Harbor, the sister water park of Six Flags! Great Adventure, in gorgeous suburban Jackson, New Jersey, and, well, it just might be the most perfect experience of Hell that I will ever have in this mortal coil.

We thought leaving by ten a.m. would be early enough. We were wrong. We got there just before noon and I knew it was all going straight to fuck when we had to walk through a metal detector. What the hell is that all about?

This is an experience you will never have.

Oh wait, I'm leaving out the THREE lines that were open for the many people trying to enter the park. We got into one of these very long lines, which became considerably longer as we waited in the hot sun of mid-heat-wave Summer 2006, as the idiots in front of us did some mysterious transaction that took us less than a quarter of the time when we finally arrived at the window. Is this your experience too? I mean, do you notice that any line you're in, from the bank, to the ATM, to the grocery store, the MTA machine, the train ticket line, or the movie ticket line, it seems like everyone in front of you takes years to make their transaction? What the fuck is this about? It either means that everyone who reads this and sympathizes with this experience is above average intelligence, and that therefore the people in charge of making lines move at an agreeable rate have failed miserably in their role of creating a mechanism that allows the average person to do business efficiently; or that the people in charge of this mechanism are below even average intelligence; or that these masterminds are inescapably in the wrong job; or that there's another factor involved that I haven't foreseen, I dunno, maybe that the people making these decisions are incapable of designing the mechanism correctly for people like them so that they can use it efficiently. Doesn't this sort of thinking just make you hate the world? I mean, SO much? So much.

Anyway, I passed my wallet and keys, which are on a vintage (as much as I hate to say it) Raymond Dragon keychain (only the keys were on this chain), through the detector which made nary a noise, which is to say it made no noise in the least. Figuring I was all good, I walked through and retrieved my wallet and keys, and the guy on the other side picked up the chain for examination. "They're just keys," I said. But he looked at the chain strangely and called the other metal detector guy over to take a gander. Now, I have been with this chain through countless post-9/11 airport security checks in many airports in many states--even nations--and never receieved a glance at it, and I muttered, "Oh, come ON!" I'm just saying, if airports aren't worried about this as a serious danger, what kind of ghetto experience am I in for when my keychain is being considered a possible weapon at a water park, when airports the world over haven't even noticed it? I know it's NEW JERSEY and all (and I'm from fucking New Jersey), but I was honestly bewildered, as a thirty-eight-year-old, gay man, that the chain on which I've carried my keys for eight years without comment, were now being scrutinized as if I'd walked into this family-oriented water park with a fucking pistol.

So, they let me through, and we're all quite hot and cranky at this point because we waited in an extremely long line to get into a refreshing water park on one of the hottest days of the year to find a very badly-marked amusement park. Where are the lockers? There have to be lockers in a water park--in which, in other water parks, I have only dealt with quarter lockers--no, in this park, you have to wait in, yet another, extremely long line, to BUY a locker. Yes for seventeen to twenty-two dollars you can buy lockers of two different sizes, in which you can keep the crap you don't want to get wet. Then after baking in the hot sun for twenty minutes to buy this locker, the under-paid staff person will direct you in the wrong direction to the locker you have purchased, which, no-thanks to the vague signage, you eventually find, and discover the 1.5 foot-wide space allowing access to your locker is full of families accessing their lockers because the lockers have been released in numeric order. Okay.

Let's say you put your crap in the locker. Then you have to pick your way across dry, foot-scorching pavement, to the nearest wet attraction, which, after an interminable, painful scamper, turns out to be the "wave" pool, which is teeming with New Jersey families and friends, and in which the waves have been turned off for some reason. Also, mind you, the pool is warm, as though it were filled with urine. It tastes salty to the tongue, but you are so happy to finally immerse yourself in something cooler and even wetter than the air that you don't care if the salinity is human-derived. You really don't. Seriously, when it's this hot you would bathe in a well of piss just to cool off. You know you would.

We were there, in this park, for at least five hours and we went on--not including the "wave" pool--three rides. We went in said pool at least three times, passing crowds of families supine on chairs or face-down in the pool, just to relieve ourselves, not of our urine, of which we had little in such a shade-free, hot-pavemented place, no, we went there because it was one of the few places in this "water" park where we didn't have to wait in line for an hour to enjoy the thrill of a ten-second cooling experience, on a slide. We estimated that in the five hours we spent there we had under a minute of actual water park fun. Three rides. THREE rides. It was as though someone had invented some new form of torture.

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Me, around 2 pm, at Six Flags! Hurricane Harbor.

I won't even go into our attempt at "lunch," which was an inedible assortment of "foods" served by people who didn't know the menu posted over their heads, where a third of the fried crap that was promised was unavailable, and when, after twenty-minutes of getting said "food," and actually paying (an enormous amount) for it, the cashier assured us that the park was terribly run. No, I won't even start to tell you about that.

We went on our third ride after that. And after that yet another dip in the "wave" pool.

I will say one thing about this experience, and to tell you that story I have to tell you this one: I had a boyfriend in 1996 who went, without me, to Six Flags! Great Adventure, and had a terrible time. Sure, the rollercoasters were awful fun, but the people were just so, well, they were just so ugly. He wasn't trying to be mean, but the other people there were really fat and really, just, ugly. He and his friends, which included two lesbians, dubbed the park "Great Ugliness."

Now, I have always given him great shit for this, for the last ten years, because I love diversity, and I moved to New York to be in the World instead of the World of the Midwest, and though New York has let me down in the last decade by its homogenization, I realized, seeing the people of the tri-state area who come to Six Flags! Hurricane Harbor, that he's right. When you look at these people with their clothes off, the part of you that is used to seeing relatively trim New Yorkers yearns to see, relatively trim New Yorkers. I'm not talking model-trim, emmaciated people, or zero-fat faggots, or bodybuilders, I'm saying the kinda FAT people who exist in the rest of this nation. I'm saying, these people look better in clothes. I didn't dislike them for this, or think they were ugly, but I did find myself unconsciously searching for someone outside our little group whom I found attractive. It wasn't easy.

There was this one guy, whom Kikkoman and I dubbed the "Magical Christian" because he was this very sexy, twenty-one or slightly less, hottie in the "wave" pool, who was part of the most diverse group in the park: everyone was of a different shape, ethnicity, age, sex, or body-type, and they were all playing together. They were either a summer camp or church group, and the Magical Christian, who was beefy and cute and sported a silver cross around his neck, allowed kids of all sexes, shapes, sizes, and colors to jump up and hang off him, and who took it all with a smile and a game attitude, and whom I first spotted in a conga line, dancing to the piped-in crap music played in the pool--in the most height-uneven, race-and sex-uneven conga I have ever seen--having fun, unselfconsciously being generous, and whom, I think, himself, became the center of why this sort of place, as badly managed as it is, as awful as it is, can be a lovely place for someone--anyone--for kids or church groups or summer camps--to have a great time. The Magical Christian, in addition to the wonderful people I was with, turned a nightmare into something sorta sweet.

All the same, if you're still reading, I feel nonplussed as to how to tell you whether you should try this place, except to say: NEVER go to Six Flags! Hurricane Harbor. This is one of the worst experiences I have ever had. There are better water parks to go to, better places to waste your money, to take your church groups, your summer campers, or yourself.

We returned to New York and I said, " You know what? I can't stand the fags, but the straights are so much worse. After a day like today, I realize I would much rather live in a world of gay men than the straight world."

And Kikkoman said, "Man, I come back to New York, and I see the people here, and even if they are assholes, they at least take care of themselves and aren't crazy fat like the rest of the U.S. I thank Satan we live here."

I wish it were otherwise, but I do too. (Try to tease that "it" apart.)

And it's not because of the Satan part.


bstewart23 said...

I'd like to see a sign stating "You Must Have an IQ Greater Than 7 x 24 - 60 to Enter Through This Gate" at all public facilities. That it comes as a surprise to so many people when they finally arrive at the ticket booth, that they actually need to get their wallets out, is a source of brain-corroding frustration.

Then again, I have a notoriously low tolerance for stupidity, relegating me to a hours of unending agony whenever I leave the confines of my apartment.

Demosthenes said...

Loved your wonderfully comic observances. The water park is the world of course, we are the water park. The hoi polloi with all their democratic grotesqueness and commonness remind us of the triteness and banality that rule our lives. It’s easy to make fun of course. I do all the time. But how much better am I really? And when I see the equivalent of the “magical christian”, that thing that shines so effortlessly and without self awareness or analysis, that simply does and gives, that is able to encapsulate our humanity simply, it leaves me speechless; speechless because of its beauty and also because of my own shame. It moves me and disheartens me all at once because how often am I not that?
Seeing the “magical christian” through your story was like reading the Brothers Karamazov all over again - a book with a profound affect on my life.

PS “Chelsea” is one big water park if you look closely.

GayProf said...

So, it sounds like you had a great time.

Luciferus said...

It was... so magical.