Sunday Post 162: Face to Face with Cruella

We Just got back from Disney World – went there for DJ’s spring break. Of course you probably already know that.  Based on the crowds I’m assuming you were there too.
Not only do I get a kick out of all the attractions in the parks, I was also quite amused by watching all the other suckers spending $5 on an 8 oz soda.
One thing that really struck me on this trip was the lack of happiness I saw in some of the families I encountered. I’ve heard that this mouse mecca is the happiest place on earth.  Apparently that is not the case for all.
In the Orlando airport I saw one family with four boys.  They should have stopped with one. The mother went absolutely nuts on two of her kids as they were approaching the Disney Magical Express, the bus that transports you to this Orlandon Garden of Eden.
“Stop asking questions,” she snipped!  “I’ve had it with you all!”  Her tone was ferocious.
I glanced at her poor husband. He looked like she’d had him for lunch a couple of times too. I wanted to go take up for the fellas, pondering what I might say.
“Yo, yo cranky pants.  What do you think your kids are going to remember about this vacation?  That the Disney character their mother most resembles is Ursula from The Little Mermaid!”
I refrained.  I’m not sure why.
Another woman entered a different bus with her three-year oldish son.  They sat down a few rows behind me.
“Where’s your jacket?” she asked alarmed, her voice loud enough for us all to clearly hear.
There was silence, and then his tears began.
“I gave you the jacket at the hotel!”  Her voice was getting louder. “You left it!  You left it!”  He was sobbing by now and Cruella was fit to be tied.  Then, then it came out…
“You’re an idiot!  You can’t keep up with anything. I should leave you here!”
I was floored. The boy couldn’t have been four years old.  She had anounced to the boy and to about 50 strangers that he was stupid.  How humiliating.  I wish he could have realized that he was not the one we all thought was below average intelligence.
I fully understand getting frustrated with your kids. At Disney Michelle asked me 67,000 times what we were doing next.
“Well baby. I think we may eat a sandwich and then take a bathroom break. Will that work for you?”
I did get a bit tired of outlining our every move. But homegirl was excited!  She wanted to know the plan. And when I’d be ready to limit her questions to 25 per hour, I thought, one day you’re gonna miss these inquiries. Oh, and I also thought, I’m glad I’m not an elementary school teacher.
Yea, kids are frustrating – they can drive you nuts at times. But good grief, we brought them into this world. It’s our job to answer those questions, to help them learn how to keep up with their coat and to love the heck out of them even when they don’t.

Frozen Drawers

frozen boxers

My oldest niece is now 25, 30, maybe older, I’m not sure.  All I do know is she’s getting on up there.

Since she was born I’ve worked hard to keep her in line – she is a handful.

One Christmas I decided to give her two of the things she loved the best – nicely packaged together.  So I took a pizza crust and hot glued macaroni all over it.  She was rude and didn’t eat it.

Fresh out of college and in a new apartment, she requested money and house goods for her holiday gifts.  Naturally, I bought a 24 pack of toilet paper, unrolled each and tucked a dollar in the middle.  I then wrote on the outside of the roll the title of a fabricated Christmas Tune – like “Oh Holy Wipe” or “Tinkle Bells.”  It took a great deal of careful thought to put it together, and yet, she complained about the rolls being unwrapped.  I just don’t get it.

The younger she was, the less she could throw back at me.  Now, with her old age and all, I’m having to be a bit more careful.

At the beach earlier this month, our entire family, all 12 of us, took our annual crab hunting exhibition.  We gathered the nets, the flashlights, buckets and frisbees (used to secure the caught crabs in the said buckets).

Since my mother is scared of everything, I decided I’d take a small twig, sneak up behind her and surprise her with a little tickle on her ankle.  It’s sort of fun to see a 76-year-old jump that high.  It reminded me of the time my brother put a plastic snake on her shoulder in a gift shop at Disney World when we were kids.  Her scream was so loud they called in security because they thought someone was dead.

So, maybe I took it a bit far when I repeated my trick four or five times on my mom, she is such a sucker.  Then a couple of swipes on my niece’s ankle and once or twice on Michelle.

I knew they were working to get me back when DJ and Courtney ran back to the house to “go to the bathroom.”  Both have camel bladders so I suspected revenge was in the making.

After a one-sided water gun war, I thought I had paid my penance.  What I learned when I climbed out of the shower was that all of my boxer shorts, every single pair – even the dirty ones, were missing.  I searched for a while and then gave it a rest.  I figured them knowing that I knew was torture enough.  They had to fear my next move.

I reminded them that I wasn’t big on underwear and that I could go months without my shorts.  I’ll have to admit though I didn’t want to have to buy 8 new pair.

Two days later, with still no sign of my boxers, I made my move.  While they were sunning by the pool, I snuck into their rooms and snatched their undies.

I then called truce and worked out a swap wtih my father as a neutral party.  We’d each give our goods to him, and he would return them to the rightful owner.  He’s a minister, I knew I could trust him.

What I didn’t realize was that little rat had wet my shorts, wadded them all up and crammed them on the bottom shelf of the freezer behind the ice pops and in front of the frozen kale.  When recovered, they were solid as an iceberg, formed in-between the crevasses of the wire rack that hid them.

It was nearly the rudest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Who does that?

PS – If you’re reading this, and you know who you are, just wait, wait until next year…

Ballet on the Beach?

I’ve done a lot of things on the beach.

When the kids were younger, we’d spend hours and hours digging.  It didn’t matter what I was digging for, as long as I had a shovel in my hands, the girls were happy.

I remember making holes so big the entire family could sit in them – mom, dad, and all three kids.  We had sand-made chairs, couches and occasionally a table.  My kids would request bureaus and refrigerators.  “How about a Duncan Fife couch dad, like the one Great Grandma has?”  To them, there was nothing I couldn’t construct out of wet, salty sand.

“Dad, make the hole deeper!”

“Dad, the moat for the castle is too small.”

I felt like I was on a chain gang.  At the end of the day I’d take three Alleve and hit the sack by 8 pm.

This year was different.  The kids are older, spending more time on their own.  What they want to do now is sit in a chair and Instagram their friends all day.  My, how times have changed.  You know, I actually sort of miss the hard labor.

This year on the beach, I didn’t dig.  No, instead, Michelle spent one afternoon teaching me her ballet moves.  Naturally, DJ had her iPhone on the beach so was able to capture the moment for posterity’s sake.

 

As long as they keep asking, I’m pretty much up for anything!

Our Family’s Pyrotechnicians

Posted by Danny

Why is it that the fourth of July turns seemingly normal men into temporary pyromaniacs?  I bet that’s how those fires started when Yellowstone burned down years ago.  Had my brother been in Wyoming at the time I would have guessed it was him.

It actually started with my brother-in-law Matt during our first beach vacation the last week of June.  He showed up for the weekend giddy with his Costco purchase.  I knew they sold toilet paper by the crate, but dynamite?  Apparently for $30 you can walk out with enough explosives to burn down four sand dunes and two three story beach houses.  You can always get a great deal there.

On our last night, after dinner, he grabbed a bag from the carport and announced he had a treat for all.  The kids gathered around as he unpacked his treasure.  On the side I saw the letters T N T.  I felt like Wile E. Coyote.  Had the Road Runner come to blow me up?

Have you ever tried to light a match on the beach?  All the men in the family were expected to gather around the explosives to block the wind while Inferno Boy struck the match.  If per chance the fuse did ignite, we were instructed to run like hell. 

After several attempts and extreme disappointment from Matt, we moved the package of pyrotechnics to our pier which was wedged between sand dunes.  This time it lit.  I took cover on the beach with the children, poised to jump in the Atlantic if necessary.

The sparklers began, flames popping out left and right.  The wind carrying the balls of fire blocks away. 

I’m sure the neighbors were appreciative of the free entertainment – well, those whose porches weren’t on fire.

The next week, at the beach with my side of the family, my brother made the Zambelli’s look like luminary lighters.  His fireworks display put Matt to shame.  Chad’s rocketed 50 feet in the air and exploded like the ones you see on the National Mall in DC, although only one at a time.

As I watched him hover around the small round launcher, I couldn’t help but think what might happen if a slight breeze blew the paper towel type holder on its side.  Perhaps I’d be lucky and get out with only singed eyebrows.  I could jump behind the neighbor’s car – nah, probably has a full tank of gas.  How many yards is it to the sound?  Not sure I could make it with three kids in tow.  Rockets are fast.

Fortunately for us, the launcher died after the third explosion.  But that wasn’t all.  Now Grandpa stepped in with the sparklers.  Finally, something my speed – a small handheld stick of fire.

Dang it.  I’d forgotten how much they sting when the little flame shoots off and lands on your forearm.  I should have brought the aloe.

I guess we were lucky.  I was reading reuters.com and saw the following headline:  Fireworks Accident Claims Man’s Testicle

Reframe:  Saved money.  Vasectomys cost a lot more than $30.

Animals? Grandchildren? Ahhh!!!

Posted by Danny

It hit me this past week.  I am going to have to raise my grandchildren.

We were at the beach which means an annual argument about purchasing Hermit crabs.

I’m not sure if other families have this issue; I sense it’s only us. I believe it is a genetic condition. My oldest niece started it about 15 years ago. I have her to thank.

When we go to the coast, we eat seafood in Calabash, NC. It’s where my grandfather took us. At times we’re staying two hours away from Dockside Seafood Restaurant – doesn’t matter, my father insists that’s where we go.

“It’s good food and it’s a great price.”

All true. Although if you’re driving three vehicles 240 miles each, I question if there is true savings.

On the corner near the restaurant is an enormous nic nac shop. On the porch is a cage, maybe four feet square in width and four feet tall. It is packed with Hermit crabs. Their shells have all been painted by a local “artist”. There are flowers, Picasso type designs, even Spiderman Hermit Crab – so very, very tempting.

Although we have two at home who survived the past 12 months, according to my kids it is imperative that we have more.

“We are NOT getting more crabs,” I insist. “What joy do they bring? You don’t like them in your room because they are loud at night – so they take up prime real estate on the bathroom counter. You don’t play with them – in fact, all they do is sleep. When their cage starts smelling like crustacean poo, who cleans it out? That would be me. No — No. No. No.”

“But dad…”

“You never take care of your animals. Why don’t you play with the ones you have?”

Although DJ didn’t pushing for one this year, she pointed out that her crab immediately changed shells when she got him home last year. “He left the flower designed shell I picked out and moved to the ugliest shell we had – I didn’t like him after that.”

He was probably a dude and embarrassed to be stuck in a tulip.  I wouldn’t want to live in a house with a garden painted across the front door.

I then began to toss out all of the animal failures the Tanner’s had endured:  “What about your hamster Stephanie. You never played with her.”

Miss Piggy bit! Would you play with something that draws blood on a regular basis?”

“What about the guinea pig? No one played with him.”

“If you recall, I didn’t want a guinea pig. I wanted a hamster. Mom made me get JW. Therefore, we never connected.”

That’s when it hit me.  I suddenly had the realization that I was going to have to raise my grandchildren. If my kids found fault in their child, they would simply turn its well-being over to me.

Panic grabbed my chest. I felt the car closing in.

“AAAAhhhh! What if you treat your children like you do your pets? I am not going to raise your kids. I can’t do it.”

I could see it clear as day:

“DJ, where’s my grandson?”

“Oh, well you know dad, we really wanted a girl. I guess he’s still up in his room; haven’t checked in a few days.”

Or

“Stephanie, what’s that smell?”

“I’m not changing diapers, that’s gross.”

Or

“Michelle, is that your baby screaming?”

“That’s her – but she bites.  We don’t pick her up anymore.”

I don’t know if I can do it.  I mean I’ll be 15, maybe 20 years older than I am now.  I may not have the energy.  I’m supposed to be through with diapers. 

Oh Lord – give me strength.

Verna’s Two

Posted by Danny

My father-in-law plans a great trip.  And the best part about taking a journey with him is that you get to experience things that a normal tourist might not experience.

On our second night in Hawaii, the restaurant where we were planning to eat was packed and on that side of the island, there weren’t really other options.  So Pops pulled out his trusty tourist guide and started driving.  About 20 minutes later, we pulled up to Verna’s Too.  I’m surprised there was enough enthusiasm about the first Verna’s to open a second.

The guide-book described Verna’s as an inexpensive burger joint where all the locals hang out.  That was true.

When we first drove up, Michelle turned up her nose and said she wasn’t hungry.  The kid has a good sense about these things.

The woman at the window took our order with a ballpoint pen and a scrap of paper.  Her outfit was tight.  I was thankful the half wall covered the waist down.  Her form-fitting tight tank top was the same tan color as her skin.

She handed the order back to an older woman standing behind the grill.  She wore bedroom shoes and held the spatula in her hand; there was no smile.  She had a job to do and was focused on the griddle.  I got the sense she began her career at the original Verna’s as a very young woman.  She’d handled an order for 11 on many, many occasion.  This was not a problem.

The tiny dining room reminded me of the arcade at Permastone Lake, my summer haunt as a child.  I remember Undercover Angel playing on the jukebox as I ate snow cones with Steven Mozena my best childhood friend.  Their dining room floors were similar, concrete with a thin layer of wet sand on the top.  There were two options for sitting: a hard orange table with matching benches on the right and another on the left.  We split up – each booth only held 4.

Jesse was clear in his request, “NO MAYO.”  We all know to keep the mayo and, incidentally, garden peas, away from Uncle Jesse.  Almost makes him sick.

When his steak sandwich came out, the “special sauce” seemed an awful lot like mayonnaise – same color, same smell, same thick saucy consistency.  It wasn’t fully opened when it landed in the bottom of the 24 gallon metal trash can lined with a yard bag.  I suspected that they’d emptied palm tree clippings earlier that day to make room for the dinner rush.

It’s his own fault.  Who in their right mind orders a steak sandwich from a woman with sweat rings circling her armpits?

Our friend from behind the counter doubled as the food deliverer.  A side window opened from the kitchen to the gritty dining room.  She’d peak at the incoming meal and announce the next fare.

Michelle turned her nose up and anticipated my displeasure.

“Don’t get mad at me.  I told you I wasn’t eating that stuff.”

How could I argue?  She’d just seen her 33-year-old uncle toss half a cow into a Glad bag.

I opened my tin foil, the burger was hot.  Michelle nibbled at my fries.  The ketchup bottle looked clean, and I love me some ketchup.

I sniffed the bun as it neared my mouth – I had to do it if for no other reason as an example for my kids.

And it wasn’t half bad.  Sort of reminded me of a two-day old Hamburger Steak, Jr., from the Chargrill, reheated in the microwave.

I’ve decided my family is snotty.  The food wasn’t the issue for my kids, it was the atmosphere.  Somehow I’ve raised girls with country club taste on a YMCA salary.  How did that happen?

Lomi Lomi

Posted by Danny

On vacation last week we were driving back from Hilo to Kona on the island of Hawai’i and passed through the small town of Kainalin.  As we drove through the center of town, my eyes caught a sign for Aloha Massage Academy – $40 for a student massage.

After flying in a plane for 13 hours with my three kids, Jesse, a three-year old and an 18 month old, I found the sign quite inviting.  My head was aching and my lower back felt like Spartacus had pierced it with his Arena Sword.  

And considering my propensity for thriftiness, it looked like both my back and my Wells Fargo checking account back in Raleigh would leave happy.  So I called and made an appointment for my brother-in-law, not Jesse – the other one Matt, and myself.

We discussed a couples massage, we could each save $5, but decided it would probably do us both good to have an hour all to ourselves.

I went first.

Apparently, in Hawaii, they have a “special” massage called Lomi Lomi.  I didn’t know that’s what I was getting when I entered the room with my new fierce fingered friend, Lila.

“You can remove your clothes.  I’ll be back in a minute.”

No longer a rub down rookie, I wasn’t taken aback by her demand.  I was, however, a bit surprised when I took off my shirt, dropped my drawers and turned to find the window behind me wide open.  No curtains, no shutters, actually – no glass.  Yes, Lila apparently wanted the natural breezes from Hawaii to cool me as she Lomi-Lomied. 

I glanced at The Original Donkey Balls Chocolate Factory next door as I scooted under the thin burgundy sheet.  I took a deep breath and got a slight hint of the sweet.  Life is good.

Lila knocked. 

“Come in Lila.”

She walked around the table and immediately placed her hand on my right buttock, the 17 thread count sheet the only thing separating her bare hand from my bare butt.  Using unusual hand coordination, she began shaking my body with ongoing butt thrusts while her other hand and forearm forcefully glided up the right side of my lumbar region.  She shook for a while on the right and then balance it out with an equally nice shake down on my left cheek.

She proceeded to use her elbow to work out the tension in my shoulders – and it hurt…so…good.

She commented on the tightness of my back muscles.  I told her I lived a stressful life.  I could tell she was concerned.

After a few minutes of working up and down my spinal cord, I heard Lila drag something across the floor.  A second later, she was pressing equally across both sides of my back, starting at the bottom and slowly moving toward my neck.  A bit startled at the evenness of the pressure, I thought to myself:  Is she on the table?  Did Lila actually climb up on the table?

Lomi Lomi – indeed, she did!  Lila was straddling my legs and using all of her girth, and there was plenty, to release the impenetrable constriction in my back.  I’d never had a masuess actually get on the table with me.  I wonder what she would have done had the tension been in my chest.

When my hour was up, I was re–laxed.  I didn’t even flinch when a woman with a bag full of chocolates walked by my window as I was standing up from the table.

And when I got home, I asked Matt, “Did Lila get on the table to work on your back?”

“What?  No.  They don’t do that!”

I didn’t want to break it to him, but I think he was cheated.  He just got one Lomi; I got both.

Lomi Lomi sweet Lila – I’ll see you in my dreams.

Sunday Post 75: The Bird

Posted by Danny

Does God send signs?  I’m just not sure. 

I told Lisa before she died that if it was at all possible to come back and visit, I expected her to make that happen.  She told me she would not – she said she didn’t want to be stuck between here and there.  When she went, she was diving in with both feet.

But I sure have had some peculiar things happen since February 2010.

In June of 2009, three months before Lisa was diagnosed, her father took our entire family on a trip to Yellowstone.  About every three years he plans an incredible vacation where we laugh, grow closer and build significant memories.

In preparation for the trip, Lisa had t-shirts made up.  On the front it said, “The Katsopolis Family Tour.”  On the back, there was a list of places we’d been and the year we’d traveled.  The last entry on the tee was:  Hawaii, 2012.

That was Lisa’s way of encouraging her dad to keep the tradition going.  These truly are special occasions for our family.

So in true family tradition, Pops, as all the children call him, planned an incredible ten-day stay on the big island of Hawai’i!  We just got back.

On day 5, DJ received an email from a friend who said that her mother, who was a friend of Lisa’s, had a dream the night before.  In the dream, Lisa appeared.  As they were talking Lisa said, “Kathy, I just wish I could let Bruce know that the bird who has been following him is me.”

Interestingly enough, a bird had flown into our vacation home the same day that Kathy had the dream.  The bird flew in a second time later in the week.  And to top it off, as I stood on the lava rock in front of our house, a bird flew so close to my arm that I could feel a sharp breeze from his wing.  It startled me.   It almost felt like he touched me, but I didn’t see him until after he began flying away.

In no way do I believe that my wife has been reincarnated into a bird.  And I have absolutely nothing that could make me say the dream and our three encounters with Hawaiian fowl were anything more than coincidence.

And yet, I found it comforting. 

Maybe Lisa did turn rouge bird for a week.  Or maybe it was nothing.  Or maybe in some small way it is a sign, sent to me, to let me know she is OK and that she approved of our family’s time together.

In honor of our time, my mother-in-law sprung for Henna tattoos for the girls, and yes me.   Mine is the bird.

The Amazing Mule Ride

 

Posted by Danny

On Tuesday, our Nana had a significant birthday – I won’t go into which one, but it was a biggie!

To celebrate, the girls made a few decorations and Uncle Matt, Aunt Sallie and I cooked dinner.  We had a nice cake – compliments of the Whole Foods (no parmesan). 

And…we all dressed like Nana!  Some of the highlights included:

  • Popped up collar
  • Untucked shirt cinched with a belt
  • Big bling around the neck
  • Bracelets for days
  • Shoulder pads (we taped wash cloths to our shoulders)
  • Vests
  • Heels
  • Glasses
  • Baby powder on the head (she is graying a tad)

And we each wrote ten ‘memories with Nana’, presented to her one at a time.

My favorite Nana memory occurred on our family trip to the Grand Canyon.  As a surprise, the lovely in laws scheduled a mule ride down the canyon for Lisa and me.  I was apprehensive – I don’t like heights and I’m pretty allergic to animals.  But I really wanted to try.

I was surprised when we reached our destination – not pleasantly, just surprised.  You literally walked straight up to the edge of this vast hole in the earth.  There were few railings and no fences.  If you stepped too far, you would simply fall thousands of feet to the bottom of the gorge.  Twice during our stay, helicopters converged on the rim to find someone who was missing.  And to top it off, my father-in-law immediately purchased a book that chronicled the stories of all the people who died there.  It was a thick book because a bunch of people never made it out! 

In checking out the trail which led to the bottom, I realized that the six-foot wide path followed the rocks on the left side but that there was absolutely nothing on the right side.  If one of the mules decided to commit Harry Carry, there was no stopping him.  He could jump as easily as I could breath. 

I didn’t contemplate the mule ride very long.  I generously offered my mule to anyone in the family who had no concern for their own life.  There weren’t too many takers – but finally Nana agreed to take the voyage with Lisa.

We walked them to the trail head and saw them off at 8 am sharp.  The guide assured us that a mule had never jumped off the trail with a person on his back.  He said that  only a couple of the animals died on the trail – and that they were pack mules, not the ones carrying people.  And then he asked us to sign a waiver that explained that you could die at any moment on the trail and that regardless of how negligent they might be, they were not responsible for your death.  I think there was also a clause that said if you did depart on the ride, they could use your story in volume 2 of the “Stupid People Who Died in the Canyon” book.

I hugged Lisa, and assumed I would not ever see her again.  Then I took the kids for ice cream.

Eight hours later, they returned.  Both of them looked like hell:  dirty, leaves hanging off their hats, sunburned and smelling to high heaven.  Neither of them were speaking to me.  Well, Nana did say one thing, “You…are no longer my favorite son-in-law!”  She stormed off to her room.

Lisa couldn’t get her underwear off because the dried blood from her butt scabs had fused them to her skin.  Her upper legs looked like she had been beaten by Indian Jones’ whip. 

And I was looking like the smartest person in Arizona.

They eventually got over their anger at me, bragged about the incredible views they’d seen and felt proud that they’s survived this adventure.  We still have mule Christmas ornaments to remind us of that trip.

You know, that Nana is a pretty gutsy lady.  And she looks pretty good for ?0 years old!

The Vanishing Point

Posted by Danny

It was ego, sure male ego that made me do it.

Stephanie was invited to the lake with friends for the weekend and DJ, Michelle and I were looking for an equally exciting activity to fill our Labor Day hours.  As I pondered our time, interests and finances, I landed on a day trip to Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va.  Not too close, not too far away and an outdoor experience (versus the indoor Great Wolf Lodge disaster from February) was all too appealing.  With some coaxing, Jesse decided to come along for the ride.

 The pinnacle of excitement for me came at 5:45, fifteen minutes before park closing.

We had walked by Vanish Point, a slide that takes off from a 75 foot tower nestled in the back corner of the park, several times during the day.  This was the description on the sign at the entrance to the attraction:   Get ready for the ride of your life on Water Country USA’s epic new drop slide: Vanish Point. Inspired by the point on a wave where water and gravity form a perfect partnership, this summit supplies a wicked wet way to drop out of sight.  You can step into a skybox where you fall down when the floor drops out beneath you.

Although I was curious, had Jesse not been there, I would have kept my 45-year-old, ground loving self at the bottom of that tower of terror.  But once he decided to take the plunge, my ego simply wouldn’t let me sit the attraction out. 

“I’m going, you in?”

“I don’t know, you know I’m not a fan of heights.  And the girls really need a father.”

“OK.”  He turned toward the long staircase.

“I’m in!”

We started the climb up the mountain of stairs.  My knees a bit wobbly from fear; Jesse and I tailed a gaggle of 9-year-old boys – excitement buzzing around them like bees on a honeysuckle vine.  Not only was I motivated by wanting to keep up with my brother-in-law, but there was also something motivating about this group of kids.  I could picture myself with Adam Fair, Jimbo Martin, the Mask boys and my brother – the Berkshire Road Gang – from my childhood.  If we’d only had the chance to conquer this challenge as kids.  Our closest adventure to Vanish Point was jumping off the dead tree stump in Adam’s yard with the sprinkler gradually dampening our bodies.  I had to do this for them.

The anticipation was palpable as we reached the staging area.  We were so high, I swear I could see Mt. Rushmore in the distance.

 An attractive college student in her bathing suit was at the helm.  One by one she loaded the boys into the Star Wars type tomb of doom.  My turn was nearing.

Jesse:  “Do you want to go first?”

Me:  “Yes, I need to get this over with.  Goodbye.”

She opened the door.  I gently pressed on the mechanical floor with my foot to make sure it was locked.  I knew within seconds it would fall out from under me, dropping me to what could be my death.  I climbed in – glancing at the lifeguard – a nice final image if this was the end.

“Cross your legs and put your hands over your chest.  And remember to lean back.”

I had entered an upright coffin, albeit a wet one.  

She closed the door.  The male guard at the controls glance toward me, my hangman.  I was guilty.  Guilty of stupidity.

Whoomp!  The floor vanished.  My body darted down like a missile heading toward Cuba, my stomach lodged beneath my tonsils.

I tried to open my eyes but the force was too strong.  Within seconds I was at the bottom, water permeating my body through every orifice I owned.

Stand up quick man!  Look cool.  People are watching.  You’re wet all over, they can’t see the tears.

And Jesse right behind.

“How’d you like it?”

An unconvincing, “It was great” fell from my mouth.

“Too bad the parks closing – we could do it again.”

“Yeah.  What a bummer.”