As the weather heats up outside, I’ve been thinking about those scorching summers as a kid in southern California. I was sensitive to the heat as was my dad, though he was tougher than I was because he worked outside in all kinds of weather conditions! My family did not head to the beach like a lot of families in the area did to cool off. My parents weren’t fans of sunbathing and my pale skin burned within a few minutes of exposure. We usually went to the movie theatre to cool off. One time, I remember us visiting a water park.
It was an odd choice, since I didn’t know how to swim. Neither did Dad, but Mom used to be able to dog paddle back in the day. I remember Dad balking at the cost of admission. I guess having to pay any amount of money to walk around and smoke was an injustice to him! Mom just sat on a bench and watched the action. I was way too scared to get on the giant water slide that you could see towering into the sky as you drove by the place. I settled for the boat ride.
The boats were round contraptions that could hold up to two people, but I was at that age where I didn’t want to be seen with my parents. So I boarded alone, with some help from one of the park attendants. He went through a blistering set of instructions that I only caught 10 percent of, due to the noise of the other riders. I figured it couldn’t be that difficult; there were only a couple of different controls and everyone else seemed to be moving along just fine.
I can’t remember how long we had in the water, I’m guessing 5-10 minutes at most. It seemed like a lifetime to me, because I proceeded to go around in circles the entire time. I watched helplessly as the other riders cruised straight ahead to a lagoon-like area that looped around, while I sat in the middle of the water, spinning around like a top. The attendant tried to shout tips to me but I couldn’t hear him. Finally, I had to be “rescued” as I couldn’t make it back to the dock! I was so humiliated.
Mom had seen part of my odd excursion but I played it off, telling her I intended to stay in the same area the whole time. Pre-teenage pride!
Luckily, Dad had wandered off to smoke and had not seen any of it. I never told him how he wasted his money on my boat ride that went to nowhere.