Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fear and Loathing at a Water Park

 Yes, I am in a really bad mood and stole from Thompson again.

The world was a physically comfortable but curiously mentally unsettling and slightly nauseating blur as I sat atop my Chinese-made, beach-themed inner tube drifting down the “lazy river” of one of Mickey’s water parks. Despite the bright and sunny Orlando day complete with soft and fluffy white clouds idly floating overhead I was able to identify several reasons for my unease.

The first being that I had accidentally emptied my six-ounce flask of tequila into the strictly non-alcoholic twenty-ounce orange smoothie before heading off into the crowded and confused waters of what was supposed to be a restful activity. While I love Disney as much as my socialistic-minded philosophy can find any affection for an ultimately soulless corporation, no sane person visits the Mouse as much as my family and I have without evolving certain cost saving strategies. See Disney’s various bars sell an alcoholic version of the same drink I enjoy immensely in which they add a half-ounce of very weak tequila. Throw in a name change to something sounding more adult and presto, the result is an exponential increase in price few tourists seem to notice.

Now I admit pouring the entire contents of my flask with not something I planned but the nubile young lady strolling by my lounge chair wearing a tiny bikini bottom and one of those stretchy, neoprene water shirts above distracted me. In fact my attention was diverted long enough that I did not even feel it when my wife slapped me across the back of my head.  Once I returned to reality the look of righteous indignation on her face made me realize my spousal transgression and  I was forced to remind her about how breathless she became when a male beefcake dude walked by minutes earlier. That brings me to the second reason I was feeling uneasy.

For several minutes afterward my lovely wife and I discussed the implications of the cosmically arbitrary law that allows women to admire individuals of the opposite sex without any repercussions but if men do the same thing it opens a whole other world of shit. Once I realized my wife and I were at an impasse I decided a short change of venue was in order. I quickly drank my hyper-tequila augmented orange smoothie and proceeded down to the entrance of the lazy river to contemplate the injustice of it all.

Thirty minutes after entering the lazy river the tequila began to take hold. Add to the fact that I was occasionally bobbing along in three spatial dimensions along with still dealing with the aftereffects of having been toss, rolled, dunked, and thrown through the various water rides that day my brain was not entirely secured to this reality. Things only got worse after that.

These lazy rivers that most water parks have some version of are designed to be places of rest and relaxation well separated from the organized chaos that make up the other more active attractions. This theory soon fails once the full force of all those frustrated and anxiety-ridden people rush in all seeking relief from their crappy lives chasing the illusion called the American Dream. In fact, as I drifted down I realized the lazy river with all cleverly decorated inner tubes looked like human corpuscles with the waterway taking the appearance of a clogged human artery whenever people started clumping together like a cholesterol laden clot.

I honestly do not know if the sight of so many people viciously splashing around like a school of fish caught in a net trying to free themselves from a human-made clot in a desperate attempt to relax and enjoy themselves was funny or sad. The thought that came to my motion rattled and alcohol soaked mind was that like me they were desperate to make the most of the short amount of free time our corporate overlords allow for vacations these days.  

Way back in the 1970’s my dad, while being an expert chump, was a simple appliance repairman for Sears. Even without a union he got a certain amount of paid sick leave along with two weeks paid vacation. Statistics suggest that the average American worker still gets about twelve days paid vacation after being employed by a company for three years. It is one of those nice statistics people far wiser than I could ever hope to be, like Mark Twain and Benny Disraeli, said were worse than damn lies. When you throw in the general tendency by companies to reduce or outright eliminate paid sick leave people have to dip into their vacation time for things like a bout with the flu or dealing with an ill child.

Needless to say once a person burns off the majority of vacation time dealing with the twists and turns endemic to modern American life those twelve days become something far less. Of course this brings up what is to me the very Orwellian term of, “staycation.” A clever word that while useful and innocent in many ways is for me nonetheless stained with touch of corporate marketing to, once again, get people to expect less of their lives and free time. Call me crazy? I would have to say there is a relatively high probability of that being the case. But like I have written, my wife and I are Disney fanatics and I cannot describe how many times I have been standing in line at the Magic Kingdom and see some man or woman in front of me answer their cell phone, discover it was their employer calling, and either promise to work on something later that day or immediately leave just to keep the boss happy.

Whenever that happened the idea that came to my mind was that we were devolving from the supposed free and independent Americans we claim to be into nicely dressed medieval serfs on temporary and conditional leave from our masters. The sad thing is that most of us appear to readily accept this condition while mindlessly mouthing the words that America is the most wonderful and exceptional place on the planet with everyone else being barbaric shits mired in outdated socialistic concepts like workers rights and universal health care. But hey I thought to myself at that moment, who am I to complain? I am just some helpless and irresponsible and depraved man floating on an inner tube suffering from a tequila binge.

That is when I decided just too clear and my mind and accept the fact that the lazy river I was somewhat floating on was the classic affirmation of our national character. On my left was a family of archetypal rednecks all wearing matching plastic crushproof containers around their necks designed to protect their cigarettes and lighter. To the right was an upwardly mobile family looking on in overt trepidation as their daughter talked with the son of the redneck family. The divide between the rich and poor might be growing wider but as long as there are overly crowded lazy rivers the words “E Pluribus Unum” can still be uttered without breaking into total fits of laughter.


Pixel Peeper said...

LOL! Rednecks + Yuppies @ Disney = E Pluribus Unum...this definitely sounds like a tequila-inspired equation!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Hmmm, Pixel said what I wish I'd thought to say. It's funny how adult beverages can turn us into armchair (or inner tube) philosophers, isn't it?

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: Yeah, it was weird, especially since I happened upon a article about Hunter S. Thompson right before I began writing, which set the mood for me.

Susan: LOL!!!
Add a semi-permanent disgust with the current national zeitgeist with an emphasis on the idiots in the conservative right-wing and you have my frame of mind.

lime said...

you know, with or without tequila i think i'd have been having similar thoughts about us living plastic orwellian lives....not to mention feeling disgust as i tried to figure out the parts per million of pee to disney water in which i was floating.

i guess if disney can bring together the yuppies and the rednecks though it ain't all bad.

Marja said...

When I see that pool they do look all melted together. So many people.
I have never been to Disney. my brother went to the one near Paris.
In Holland we have the Efteling which is just as much fun.

About your missy Great that she still worries about you looking. Mine with his Dutch directness says
that seen my age and.. he doesn't have to worry. ouch

Akelamalu said...

Of course your wife is correct, it is perfectly acceptable for ladies to check out men but not for men to check out ladies. ;)

Randal Graves said...

There's a circle of hell that is nothing but a bursting-at-the-seams Disneyworld.

Sarge said...

New blog: