Anyone with a little extra weight on them knows the horrors that often await us at the amusement park. I have had a few of these horrific experiences. The moment you are about to get on the ride and the operator takes a look at you and you can feel the judgement in this eyes but you defiantly get on the ride anyway. He moves to move the bar over you and for one moment you are sitting there full of hope that it will click into place and you won’t have any problems. As you hold your breath, and suck in your ever expanding gut he pushes and the breath expels quickly out of your mouth but there is no click. He pushes harder and harder, meanwhile you are thinking: seriously I am a person you know and that is still part of my body, OUCH! He lifts the bar up and says “I’m sorry you can’t ride if the bar can’t snap into place” He looks down to the ground as he waits.
You nod, sigh, and move to get out of the damn ride. Even worse, he stops you and points. He wants you to go back the way you came. Really, you want me to walk all the way back down through the line with all of those people. You shake your head but he shakes his back and points. Head down you turn and go back the way you came. Something inside you has died a little at the prospect of walking through the crowd but you do. Head still staring at the ground the entire walk as you can feel each person’s eyes on you as you walk. You can’t bare to look up and meet any of them in the eye. The pity you could see would be the last straw. The pain in your throat is familiar, you’ve held back tears before today. These people will not see you cry today.
The amusement park is supposed to be a place for fun. You just wanted to ride a few rides and have fun with your friends. Now all you want to do is go home and start in on that pint of Ben and Jerry’s you have in the freezer. For a moment you understand that those thoughts might be the reason you’re in this situation but you know it will make you feel better for at least a little while, then worse. It’s a never ending cycle that I know all too well.
I have many of these same experiences from my visits to the amusement park. Not all of them have been quite this painful. One instance I remember quite clearly because it was only a couple of years ago. I went with my cousins to Wisconsin Dells. I love it there. My family used to go there almost every summer when I was a kid. It holds some of my fondest vacation memories. Well most of them.
My cousin got a good deal at Chula Vista resort and so we were staying there for an extended weekend. I had decided that I didn’t care what others thought I was going to enjoy my vacation, cellulite be damned. So there I was in my suit with my younger cousins enjoying the lazy river. I mean it felt like the perfect “ride” for me. Nate and Tony were about to head to the water slides to go down together. Naomi wanted to go to but she didn’t have a partner.
She looked to me and said “Please Danielle, will you go on the slide with me?” she was so cute.
I responded “of course I will go with you.” I am a sucker for anything my younger cousins want but shh don’t tell them.
So we grab a tube and begin the climb up the towering flight of stairs to the top of those slides. I am already regretting this decision but Naomi looks so happy and expectant that I follow her up the stairs as she giddily says “come on Danielle.”
We are about half-way up when I notice a sign that reads, weight limit 250lbs. I halt instantly. I think to myself: wait, I weigh 250 lbs and there are two of us. I look to Naomi who is thirteen at the time. I know she has got to be close to a hundred herself.
Oh shit. I think to myself.
I ask Naomi, “How serious do you think they are about the weight limit is on this water slide?”
She turns and says “I don’t know” then continues walking.
I follow still questioning the sign and whether I should still be climbing these stairs. It would suck to get to the top and be denied and have to walk all the way back down. Would they be able to tell by looking at me that I exceed the weight limit? Would they ask me when I got to the top? All these questions roll around in my mind as I continue to trek up the stairs. As I’ve mentioned before amusement parks have not always been that great of an experience for me and they usually make weight limits for a reason.
As I climb the last few steps I resigned to go on the damn slide, I mean I’ve already climbed all those damn steps. So, we get to the front and the guy holds the tube for us to both get on. Naomi is in the front and I straddle my legs around her in the back and flop into the tube. The minute I hit the tube it sinks in the back and it takes a bit of effort to get us to the entrance of the slide. One last heave by the worker and we are dropping down the tube. Water splashing around as we fly around each curve. I tell you what the added weight made us fly down the slide. We both scream out in glee at each jutted curve the tube takes.. My worry about the weight limit has disappeared and I am having so much fun.
Suddenly, we enter this round opening that reminds me of a toilet because the hole that we will go down is in the center of the bowl. The minute we hit the floor of the bowl we stop immediately. We both jerk forward with the abrupt halt. There isn’t as much water rushing through the bowl, definitely not enough to keep us going around the bowl to the center where we would continue our descent. I panic and look around to see what I can do to rectify this situation. The sign instantly flashes in my head and I put two and two together I realize the reason for the weight restriction. I try to get some kind of leverage and lift myself enough so that water can go back under the tube but that doesn’t work. We still weigh to much and are sitting like a rock as water rushes around us. My legs are on the tube on either side of Naomi and I can’t seem to move too much or lift myself enough to make any difference, we still aren’t moving. My breathing increases as the inability to move us sets in.
Naomi says “Oh my God we’re stuck.”
“I know, I know” I respond.
“There will be other people coming behind us any minute” she says.
I look back quickly, “I know that too” I said rushed.
I arch my back to press against the back of the tube and reach both hands behind my back and begin to attempt to push us forward as fast as I can. My hands are able to just barely reach the bottom and I push as best I can against the slick surface. I can feel the water part the tube as I continue to push as in hurried bursts. This is all I can do short of getting off the tube altogether. I frantically push over and over trying to push myself further back as best I can. We move mere inches with each push. I try to lift myself more to scoot further back in the tube so I can get more traction with my hands. I push and push and push but I am running out of breath.
Finally, we’ve just about reached the hole to drop down the center. I breathe a sigh of relief and take a moment to look behind us. Two teenage boys in their tube just entered the bowl. They are moving at record speeds and I know that they are going to hit us before we drop into the bowl. I try a few more times with my hands to push us to the hole without luck. They slam into the side of the tube and we end up going down backwards with the two boys staring at us as we descend down the last of the twists and turns in the slide. When we shoot out the bottom they are right behind. I go to get off the tube and flop oh so gracefully into the water, belly first. I stand quickly, grab the tube and walk toward the stairs, trying to save any dignity that I have left. I don’t look back. I don’t want to see the looks on the two boys faces. I smile and head toward the bar and Melanie.
Naomi turns and says “Do you want to go again?”
My bottom lip drops and I gape at her. She’s got to be kidding right? I answer after I close my jaw, “No I think I’ll just hang out at the bar for awhile with your mom.”
“Okay” she says and runs for the line again.
Yeah it will be a long time before I go on that damn slide again, I think and continue my approach to the bar. I’m ready for a shot after that adventure.