As Mongo backed out of the driveway, I wondered once more if I was making the right decision; a day with a Looney Tunes lady at a Looney Tunes theme park, or isolation and peace that would allow my thoughts a chance at betrayal? As we headed toward the rim of San Francisco, a view of sunlight dancing off the slowly rolling waves of the bay quelled all questions.
What the fuck! I’m already on my own looney tune adventure anyway.
The trip northeast to Vallejo was majestic. Still, being on east-coast time I was wide-eyed and awestruck. The sun patinaed off the Pacific, lining Highway 80 and glistened in the early California light. At times, I was a dog, hanging my head out the window to soak in views and enjoy a brisk breeze, giving me a sense of what the coasters would soon feel like. At other times, I lodged my head in-between Mongo and Founda who were lost in their own world half a car away, ignoring Divot and I who kept each other company.
Divot wasn’t so bad, actually, when buckled into a car seat, knowing she wouldn’t be on the loose. She had good listening skills, and her lack of human language left conversations decidedly one-sided, which turned out to be somewhat therapeutic. Among other things, we discussed whether this was the American Dream, gliding down freeways on a date with adventure.
No worries, no jive, blowing th’ highway at 55 on a race to a theme park where, in this country, it’s OK to spend hundreds of dollars on one day of fun.
Even in the face of the dream, I was still feeling an estrangement. I began to wonder if that mythic yearning would ever be filled.
Just as I was getting lost in darker thoughts, the cranking of coasters became distinct, lightly tiptoeing on wind. Soon, signs dotted the highway, advertising the park was open for business. As we pulled close, though, we came to a crawl, waiting in a line with other summer travelers who had similar ideas. Even though it was only 10 a.m., cars were four lanes wide and five deep. Parking attendants hastily twisted and turned flinging tickets and sweat to paying customers.
I’m not even good at math, but if I multiplied $100 times every car that was in line I’d have enough money to rival Mongo.
Cranks and clatters called everyone’s attention. I was suddenly giddy as a child, even more than Divot who laid motionless, eyes rolling in the back of her head, asleep and completely unaware of what fun was at hand.
I was about to burst, but as we pulled into a parking space, Mongo and Founda sat continually whispering in conversation and mixing secret laughs—a joy the rest of us were not to be part of. Perhaps that meant “game, set and match.”
Founda had captured my throne alongside King Mongo. As this recognition began to sink in, I vowed to still make the most of this day.
A credit to the many fine immigrants that manned attendant stations at the park, we were through in no time and stood just beyond the entranceway, ignoring the flood of humanity and trying to decide what to do first.
I argued my case for the V2: Vertical Velocity, a ride that supposedly whipped one so hard their innards flipped, and heart and stomach switched spots. But I knew I wouldn’t win the argument against a pussy-whipped man and his dominatrix. Founda wanted to see a show because she was already hot—“and the theatres are air-conditioned!”
Who th’ hell goes to an amusement park with dozens of rides that could flip, mame, or kill in an instant and decides to take in a show? With lackluster performers nonetheless?! Besides, I have my own hatred for theatre.
Once upon a time, I had a regrettable fling with a “performer” who always decided to bring drama home instead of leaving it onstage where it belonged. All the world’s a stage … and she can suck it.
Recalling such memories made me even less fond of Founda. But I didn’t let it show. Instead, we agreed to do our own thing and meet up for an afternoon delight. Perhaps, we’d even do lunch since I’d traveled so far.
Truth is, I couldn’t really be all that upset. In fact, I’d been bought off. In the dwindling conversations of the night before, I retold my plight to Mongo, and at breakfast this morning, as his lovely bride was fastening their lovechild into the yuppie wagon outside, he threw a grand on the table—told me that it was an investment in the American Dream. Although, I know it was only because he felt bad for me. Maybe he thought I was going nuts.
What the hell! I’m alone and that by itself is enough to make men where we come from seem suspicious.
Guys my age were supposed to be married by now. Certainly while teaching held some validity, it was only a small byline of acceptance in the Man Code.
Owning your business—now that’s a man’s job. Teaching—well, that’s always for those who can’t, right? Whatever.
The distracting smell of warm cinnamon took me by surprise, and I looked around to find a churro stand. Immediately, I headed over and paid an ungodly six bucks for the most delicate churro I’ve had in years. The sweet soft bread crunched, then melted down my throat as I approached the V2, marveling at its angles and listening to the screams of those who thought their lives were over. It twirled and whistled through dry heat, fanning the crowd beneath with the faint smell of Super Sorb vomit cleaner, mingling with perspiration and fears of those waiting in line. This could be just what I needed to shake some sense into me.