Summer’s here. The commercials are starting to run, the ones where people are screaming with laughter while riding various roller coasters/water slides/parking trams. Those ads make amusement parks look crazy fun, don’t they? Are you American? Does smiling behind a safety harness appeal to you? Then chances are, you’ll fall for the ads and wind up
trapped inside a fun park this summer. And once there, you could literally stay forever, unless you recognize the symptoms of overload. Look for these warning signs that it’s time to drop that cotton candy and run toward the turnstiles.
1. You accept that things that used to be free, easy, or pleasant are not. Unless you’re traveling from Michigan or Africa, you probably took for granted decent free drinking water. But here, what you just paid per ounce for that salty refurbished tap water makes your favorite perfume look pretty cheap. And you don’t even flinch. You judge waiting in an 18-woman line for a toilet stall “fast.” You don’t question that your olfactory airspace has been commandeered by the mixed scents of massive turkeys on sticks, rank body odor, and everyone’s fabric softener evaporating off their t-shirts. And does it bother you that packed crowds of people are starting to smell a lot like animal herds at the zoo? No. You’re cool with that now.
2. Normal people start to look like aliens. Most park-goers are size large. When you spot “smaller” people you ponder whether they’re in costume or of a different species. You don’t flinch at all when a man the size of Texas goes down a child’s water slide the size of Rhode Island. Sure, the visual is a bit different than those commercials, but you’ve forgotten by now. This is your new community.
3. You have become reacquainted with the fact that the sun has the power to transform you. Yes, just like last summer, the sun is still a flaming gaseous ball of radiation that can cause harm. You now have blisters over your ears that have made them pointy and warty, like the vile troll in the haunted house. As if that weren’t enough to feel sexy, you’re also relearning there’s nothing hotter than a heat rash.
4. At least one of your Achilles tendons is nearly severed from being bashed by strollers. And do infants even love amusement parks? You wouldn’t think so from all the crying you’ve heard, but they sure do seem to be everywhere, feeding themselves their own bottles in the hot sun. Maybe the reason you’re so banged up is that the infants themselves drive the strollers. That’s probably it. They’re driving their own doublewide jogging strollers like wild combat tanks and the parents are just trying to keep up.
5. You search for merchandise and attractions that don’t exist. Where is that tattoo parlor restaurant?! You could swear you saw one on a map and there must be some explanation as to the masses of people covered in tattoos, particularly that interesting couple in front of you. She, with the life-size martini tattoo on the back of her shoulder, and him with the full bi-calf coverage of the Tasmanian Devil tearing through his family crest. (Or is it the Taz’s family crest? It’s too blurry green to tell.) And, say, all these women sporting the poorly matched ensemble of the black bra and narrow-shouldered, lightly colored tank top? There must be a merch kiosk in here that sells those together, right?
6. You will do anything. ANYTHING. To avoid carrying one more freaking life-sized stuffed animal or sword. At the Whack-a-Mole booth you just viciously wrenched all the oversized sledgehammers from their tethers and beat the crud out of all the moles in order to say “no thank you” to the giant eyeball beach ball your kid almost just won. Whew. That one was close—at least you didn’t have to whack your kid, too, like yesterday. That got some stares.
7. What is that feeling? Is that your own body in the seat or does it belong to the person next to you? Does the woman on the tram even realize she’s squishing her breast against your hand on that bar? Or is that her rear-end? It’s no matter, we’re all just one card-swiping, communal pile of flesh here anyway.
8. You walked in with 2 children, right? Who the hell are these extra 3? Didn’t you just pay for 5 kids to play skee ball? When did the extras show up? Wait, are you responsible for what appears to be their recent shoplifting??
9. You begin to think your “job” is the park. You must continually improve your commute, find shortcuts, and beat the “rush” for those headliner rides. Yesterday you strategized so well that you’d already ridden the Colossus Impetus four times in a row before your co-worker at home arrived at his desk! Now that’s a vacation! Today’s morning commute challenge: it’s stormy, so will the monorail beat out the ferry? Think fast! People are already lining up somewhere!
10. When in contact with the outside world, you always tell them what a great vacation you’re having. Your Instagram is filled with #nofilter photos of the fake beach by your hotel. You’ve Facetimed with your parents in the themed restaurants for nearly every meal, and justified, live, the $80 breakfast with the find-your-own-utensil stand. You’ve posed your kids with Betty Boop for a possible Christmas card photo, even though they’re frowning because they’re too old for this and they have no idea who Betty Boop is. Life is good, and you’re consuming all 500 acres of it.