Waterparks - An Anthropological Study

At the behest of the in-laws, my wife and I braved the wintry drive down the Interstate 90 to the Greater Erie, PA Metropolitan Area during the holiday weekend. The only reason I know this burg exists is because I'd occasionally go visit friends at Mercyhurst College. Other than that, it's a mere blip on my geographical radar. I often joke that it's what Buffalo, NY would be if we lost all our major sports franchises.

I'd imagine the denizen of Erie sought a variety of ways to draw national attention to their municipality: legalized gambling, a grandiose and useless convention centre or drawing the NFL's Rams or Cardinals franchises. The brainchild of the Erie Chamber of Commerce came in the form of Splash Lagoon, a large, indoor water park in a busy highway-side hotel complex. This self-contained, man-made paradise is surprisingly quite a draw.

I had my initial reservations about paying Splash Lagoon a visit, picturing its clientele to be the regurgitation of every trailer park from Syracuse to Toledo. Also, I wasn't looking forward to baring the beer t*ts in public. The last concern, of course, was the idea of having to eat corporate slop for two days and pay premium prices for the displeasure. It's not that I have a sensitive palate or anything, but I do like to pamper my sense of taste. Logic would also have it that if you were somehow sequestered inside any such structure, a stadium, movie theatre, concert venue or the like, you pretty much leave yourself at the mercy of the proprietors when it comes to pricing. Raise your hand if you've ever paid $6 for a beer, $3 for a bottle of water or $4.50 for a small, grease-saturated slice of sh*tty pizza.

Prior to leaving for my trip, I had several friends and co-workers ask, "Let me know what you think. I was thinking of taking the kids." Since my return, I've gotten the, "How was it? I was thinking of taking the kids," query. Now, I'm all about the public service, and if I can help my dear friends plan a fun filled vacation, I'll offer up advice. I'd hate for anyone to spend $276 (family of four) for admission and accomodations for one night, and not feel they've gotten maximum value for their entertainment dollars. Firstly, I shall give a scholarly look at the homo sapiens that frequent the waterparks (and I'm assuming that any similar park in the United States will yield similar results - as large as the U.S. may be, we're a very homogenous culture). I will then assess the accommodations and culinary & health concerns I'm sure others would have.

The Water Creatures
I would be the last person qualified to critique the physcial attributes of my fellow men. I am about fifteen pounds too heavy to be an Adonis, and my muscle tone rivals that of a chess champion. Regardless of that fact, I had no apprehensions in removing my t-shirt in this place. Comparatively, I felt (and I'm saying this in a staunchly non-gay fashion) like Brad Pitt amid hundreds of physiques that ranged from Tom Hanks in the Philadelphia role to the more frequently sighted John Goodman and the late Chris Farley. I doubt any of the ladies consider this to be a pro or con when deciding where the family should vacation, but from a self-conscious male perspective, nearly everybody's hoss is much, much larger than yours. The sleek, muscular shark is a rarity in these waters. This is beluga 'aqua'tory.

Ladies, as a married man, I know how overly concerned you are about your posteriors. Let me assure you, that the same rule
applies. I didn't know that they made fabrics that could contain such massive amounts of flesh. Thank the goddamned lord. You've got nothing to worry about, because invariably, someone else looks much worse than you in their bathing suits. In fact, at the risk of rocking the boat on the home-front (Honey, this is strictly for research), there were only about a dozen bona fide MILFs (You were one of them, baby.) compared to the hundreds of M.I.W.N.F.I.A.M.Y. (Mothers I Would Never ... ... In A Million Years - those come in all shapes and sizes). Don't get me wrong. I give my girls a little leeway in the LBS. department (I love the big hussies), but some of these lasses haven't seen a salad in years.

Those of you men who are prone to NRBs (Remember Eighth Grade? Getting called to the chalkboard?) have nothing to fear. It will recoil in horror before it decides to get up to take a peek around. Mermaids are in Florida this time of year, leaving Splash Lagoon to the water buffalo. When biology does draw your eyes anywhere, you must avert them immediately, since whatever it gazed upon will get you 10-15 years in the hoosegow anywhere other than West Virginia and Oklahoma.

I'll have to say on the most part, there are a lot of fat little sh*ts around. There were a couple eight year old boys that looked like they outweighed me at age eighteen, when I tipped the scale at a scrawny 128 lbs. Aside from the abundance of girth, there's the absence of manners. When did "excuse me fade into obscurity.

Number of "excuse me"s given - 2
Number of instances when "excuse me"s were warranted - 82

The offences ranged from pushing past you on some of the water attractions to not looking where they were going or darting around you in doorways.There were various occasions when I had to put out a defensive forearm to keep my two boys from getting barrelled over by some impetuous sh*tbag from Gowanda. I'll admit there were a couple I saw coming that impelled me to line my duffel bag up with their face. I did this without compunction, regardless of age (though I tended to spare those under nine) and gender.

I went as far as to compliment the parents of the two or three kids who did say "excuse me."

Me - You've got some polite kids, there. That's the first 'excuse me' I've heard all day.
Other Dad - Thanks. I beat it into them.

If we were near a bar, I'd have bought him a beer or a highball.

Aside from the usual unruliness we've come to expect from your children, there's the water guns and booby traps we didn't expect. Fine. I understand it's a waterpark, so I'll take a couple of squirts in good humour, but when your little cretin mans the water cannon for more than six minutes, bombarding complete strangers (mostly adults), it borders on insolent. (*note to park - The rest of the park has heated water. Why do the water cannons have cold?)

The Water Attractions
Normally, I don't do well with gravity, so I tend to avoid it. Carting along a two and four year-old precluded my sampling out the slides. My wife managed a couple. Fun and bumpy. I tried one myself, with the O-Dog riding shotgun. Fun and bumpy. We were relegated to the shallow kiddie pools and the 'family pond.' The water is heated and seemingly clean. Seemingly. I'm no biologist, so I might not be qualified to expound here, but we are usually on top of the Fletchmonster's diapers. When we got back to the hotel, (after the periodic checks - "Fletch, did you poo-poos?" "No."
and a couple of peeks) we found a waterlogged swimmy-diaper with a full load. We don't know when the load occurred, but it seemed to have been submerged. It didn't look like it escaped, per se, but what do I know. Considering how many diapered babies there were in the place (shudder) I'd have to say the Fletchmonster's bowel movement was an isolated instance.

Then there's the case of the 'closed family pond.' I couldn't help but to recall the Snickers Bar gag in Caddyshack and was not about to put the boys in there without a full breakdown from the staff. It never came, and we didn't stick around enough to see it re-open.

Overall, the boys had fun, and that made it sort of worthwhile. Then again, from my boys perspective, the bathtub is the place to be in the Prego household.

The Grub & Crib
Breakfast - Continental breakfast seems to be the best way to go here.

Lunch - The standard fare - greasy fries, pizza & those crappy little ice cream pellets - are readily available. Sensible spenders should stick to the pizza - $13 for a large, cheese greasy wheel with the added charges for the toppings. There's a bar there, but no bar food, so you have to bring the slop from the food court downstairs. I can understand this inconvenience, since this is a family-fun place and all that, so all the young swingers are rolling elsewhere. This is the best place to eat, though, if you have a couple of young ones, since it's away from all the chaos (and you can wash the crap down with some good swill.)

Dinner - Here's where my wife and I vehemently disagreed. I like to go off the beaten path when it comes to dining. I'd rather venture out, and find a local establishment for a freshly prepared meal. Okay, Erie PA is not exactly rich in haute cuisine, but it's worth a try. The Mrs. argued that it was cold outside.

Mrs. - Why get the kids all bundled up to drive out to eat when everything's right here?
Me - Because all these yokels are going to eat 'here' too.

She won. Waiting for a table for twenty was going to take nearly two hours, so the extended family was split up at Boston's "Gourmet" Pizza. Gourmet to whom? Having been pizza'd out, I tried the Shanghai Shrimp pasta dish. No self-respecting Asian would prepare this meal, much less eat it. Mrs. Prego wasn't too fond of her bowtie chicken concoction either. The kids are always fussy at restaurants, so the fact thet Fletchmonster spit out the 'dino-nuggets' while the O-Dog barely looked at his is not an indictment of Chef Whitey.

Finally, the hotels. Comfort Inn, Econolodge, Residence Inn... Two beds, clean, TV. What else do you need to know?

There you have it. Depending on where you are on the socioeconomic scale, this might be your bag, or you wouldn't be caught dead there. Speaking of which, I was recognized by one person. I'm guessing this place has a high anonymity factor for upper middle class and beyond. Also, considering the population from where the park draws, you might not necessarily run in to your mechanic here, either. Ultimately, it's about the kids... and if they're into this sort of thing, it might be worth gritting your teeth for one or two weekends a every couple of years.


Prurient Martyr Gets Restraining Order

St. Valentine got a slap in the wrist this morning after St. Peter got numerous complaints from several women in Heaven.

"All I wanted was a little 'tang, dog," he told authorities, as they warned him to cease his lascivious activities. "It's been over 1500 years." St. Valentine went as far as to describe the Heavenly lasses as "tight-ass prudes," and "self-righteous holy rollers."

St. Peter explained that the deities in charge were a little lenient on Valentine considering he gave his head for Christianity, but that Valentine's behaviour was out of line. "That hippie 'free-love' crap is not tolerated here. This is a beatific afterlife we're running here. The Jehovas can freely pet their lions here and we have a foosball table, but we expect righteous conduct and eternal servitude from our denizen. If you don't like our arrangements, there's always that other place."

The possibility of getting the heave-ho from Heaven was apparently enough to warrant curbing his unwanted advances. "I'm good. I heard Reagan and Satan have got a whole mess of sh*t to f*ck with you down there. Granted,the hottest pooter's in Hell, but the flaying and red-hot pokers just ain't worth it. Then there's the eternal reaming. I'm open to a little experimenting, but my joint's strictly an 'exit' only."

Lucifer resents such accusations. "Torture? Suffering? That's all hype. Those sanctimonious bastards have been hating on our good times for eons. We're just chillin' down here, trying to get by. Yo. Valentine, you walk with us, you walk tall."

Valentine is not buying it, claiming that such reports came from reliable sources. Though Valentine agreed to abide by the rules, he confided, "I knew I should have gone Muslim. I'd take 70 virgins over these frigid teases anyday. Now that's an afterlife. Jesus ought to take notes from them brothers there."

Jesus could not be reached for comment.


Minneapolis Woman Thwarts Buffalonian's Writers' Block

You have EverydaySuperGoddess to thank for preventing yet another sh*tty post by yours truly. I mean literally shitty. As the two or three regular readers know, somehow I've managed to have a recurring fecal theme here. The only thing I had brewing, before I got tagged was an expose on encopresis, which is something I discovered a couple students at my school apparently suffer from. Toucan Sam would have probably passed out if he'd encountered these kids.

Thank goodness we won't have to go into details. Instead, I'll comply with Ms. SuperGoddess' kind request for personal disclosure.

I have been put to work in the following capacities:
Photo Lab Technician - The advent of digital photography has since spared thousands of similarly employed individuals from gazing at the shriveled nutsacks and floppy breasts of Ma and Pa pornstars.
Phone Jockey for several lending institutions - The only thing I personally culled from this gig is a wife and a severe dislike for phone conversations, telemarketers and lending institutions.
Fish gutter - Repeatedly inserting a sharp blade into the orifice of thousands of salmon and removing the innards is a nice alternative to phone jockeying... particularly when coupled with copious alcohol, marijuana and college girls thousands of miles from home.
Pedagogue Extraordinaire - This is my current money-making scam, and source of 90% of my amusement.

Hooray for Crappywood X 4:
Barfly - Almost makes me wish I was a boozer.
The Princess Bride - The chick-flickesque title of this film and novel undoubtedly robbed it of a masculine fanbase at its onset, but word of mouth and a perpetual cable run has fortunately rescued it from the jaws of Beaches and Fried Steel Petunias.
The Kids are Alright - My four-year old's a big Keith Moon fan...
Drugstore Cowboy - I haven't had a hat on my bed in years.

Four or so Towns I've had a crib at:
Buffalo, NY
Maracaibo, Venezuela
Puerto Ordaz & Guri, Venezuela
Punto Fijo, Venezuela
Chicago, IL
Valdez, AK

Four Television Shows I love(d):
Keeping Up Appearances
Fawlty Towers
Hockey Night in Canada/Buffalo Sabres Broadcasts
GEICO commercials

Four pretentious books that I'll name in a feeble attempt to impress, though I haven't had time to read much since my boys were born:
The Odyssey - Attempts to read the Iliad have failed... but I'll get to it eventually.
Beowulf - (Grendel's mother's got nothing on my wife when she gets a little pissed.)
Post Office -by Charles Bukowski
Boy: Tales of Childhood - by Roald Dahl

* Honourable Mentions
I Had Trouble in Getting To Solla Sollew
Goodnight Gorilla
In the Night Kitchen
And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street

Four Places I've Vacationed:
London/Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam/Liverpool - A credit card put to good use.
Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela - You could actually see the fish swimming from the boat, and freely serve alcohol to minors.
Quebec City, QC - Mon Dieu!
L.A. (Pew.)

Four websites I visit...
Yahoo! Fantasy Sports
... whatever else I need to read.

Four Foods I Love Ingesting
Duck. Daffy, Donald, Disco... I love you all.
Pasta with Puttanesca Sauce
Anything that hottie Giada DeLaurentiis is making.
Anything that hottie my wife makes that isn't of the casserole ilk.

Four people that I am prompting to participate in this activity:


You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Proponents of 1972's landmark Title IX law could have never envisioned the monumental strides American women have made since the law went into effect over 30 years ago. The law provides women with equal opportunity, mandating that any institution that receives federal funding prohibit gender based discrimination. Aside from the obvious educational benefits, which have resulted in a substantial increase in degrees conferred upon women, we've also seen dramatic growth in women's sports. From the softball diamonds of the colleges, to the WNBA young girls have made monumental gains in self-esteem, health and career opportunities.

We can now add "high profile Postal whacko" to the illustrious list.

Of course, there have been some notable female killers in the bloodied history of the United States. The hatchet job Lizzie Borden pulled in the 19th Century comes to mind, as do the numerous isolated instances of Post-Partum carnage that dot the news tickers. Until now, however, most sanguinary behaviour of grandiose proportions were solely chalked up in the male column. The term "going postal" generally evoked images of a maladjusted Vietnam Vet losing his marbles after losing his gig, coming back to the Post Office packing a couple rifles and a ham sandwich and laying his previous co-workers to waste. You've also got the Jr. Modified version with the conventional image of a pimply, morose teen who is upset that he got picked last for gym or that all his other buddies are getting more tail than he. The lion's share of these cases have been the handiwork of men.

That's why Jennifer San Marco is such a breath of fresh air. No longer do we have to dismiss truly psychopathic behaviour to such intrinsically female factors such as menstruation and the irrational behaviour that some feel accompany it. Since there were no offspring involved, you could also throw the aforementioned Post-Partum Depression alibi out with the proverbial bath water. All we're left with is the true essence of Jennifer. Of course, girlfriend was coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs - not just nuts; she was nuts for a girl. That's some high quality insanity that goes far and beyond what any boyfriend/husband has had to endure on an otherwise uneventful Saturday afternoon.

San Marco is probably not going to de-throne the Patron Saint of Lunacy, Chas. Manson. She's more of the type of crazy you see in your neighborhood - the large lady, wearing unflatteringly revealing clothing sans brassiere, the one who laughs to herself, or the woman rolls boogers and flicks them at the window of the convenient store to see if they stick. Her sh*t went unchecked enough to land her a job in, of all places, (INSERT CLICHE HERE) a postal facility.

Two years after leaving her job, homegirl coolly walks into a pawn shop and buys the Charlton Heston model Saturday Night Special after passing the "stringent" background check in New Mexico - where it's apparently slightly more difficult to procure a side arm than in Old Mexico.

Clerk - "Um, why are you purchasing this gun?"
Jennifer - "Gnaarph - biggle biggle bluurrrrb (snort) Wooobie-Woobie dackg Beelzebub daaaaah snrrreeeep"
Clerk - "Oooooh-Kay... Whatever you say, baby."(turns to co-clerk and draws imaginary loops around his ears) "That'll be $325 plus tax."

The rest, as they say, is 'her'story. Jennifer's legacy is secured at the expense of the unfortunate souls that didn't see the crazy bitch coming. How could they? They were lulled into a false sense of security, expecting the bearded chap with a beer gut and chili stained sweat-shirt. Or perhaps the slackjawed pizza-face with the signature trench coat. Little did they have to fear when they saw frumpzilla waltzing in packing heat and a sour disposition.

Virginia Slims is mighty proud of you, babe.

Unfortunately Jennifer opted out of sticking around to see the giant leap she just took for womankind. "One small cap to bust for a woman..." and all that. You're playing with the big-boys now. If she could say anything now, I'm sure she'd impart us with "Gnaarph - biggle biggle bluurrrrb (snort) Wooobie-Woobie dackg Beelzebub daaaaah snrrreeeep"


Homo, Homo on the Range...

Homophobes rejoice.

You've got a new addition to your already abundant lexicon. Feel free to add BROKEBACK to your repertoire of taunt and intolerance.

(click on comic to enlarge)

Granted, Hollywood and televsion have been a good, steady source of catchphrases, lingo and jargon:

"What'choo talkin'bout?"
"Where's the beef?"
"Show me the money!"
"Fair is FAIR!"

Especially for the homoerotic

"Best Boy"
"Where's the beef?"

None of you, however, expected BROKEBACK. It was a freebie... kind of like getting the extra Twix bar from the break room vending machine. A small group of you actually saw the film, either at the arm of a fawning female, gushing over how brave Ledger and Gyllenhaal were to have undertaken such a role, or wearing a fake beard and sunglasses.

Most of you could care less about watching two 'fellas' donning cowboy hats giving each other the reach-around while drinking a $4.50 small soda and a $3.75 bag of saturated popcorn. The media and your girlfriends have saved you the trouble by singing the praises of the "gay cowboy" movie, so fear not. You needen't watch it to join in on the cavalcade of slurs and 'in you end-o'.

Here then are several novel uses for the term. Let's begin with the obvious "Mountain" variations. You may precede these with, "He's:"

"a Brokeback Mountaneer"
"a Brokeback Mountain Ranger"
"a Brokeback Mountain Climber"
"climbing, camping on or scaling Brokeback Mountain"
"Skiing Brokeback Mountain"
(which you can follow up with an accompanying 'ski pole' reference while miming the action with your hand)

Then, "He's"
"on Brokeback Park patrol"
"a stunt double on Brokeback Mountain"
"Sending out Brokeback Mountain Postcards for Valentine's day"
"Hitchiking to Brokeback Mountain"
or "Is he the Yogi or the Boo Boo in that Brokeback National Park?"
"Did you hear about Jack? He got all Brokeback after high school."

The possibilities are endless.
"Dude, lose the cowboy hat. You look like the Brokeback guy in the Village People."
"Kenny Chesney: The Brokeback Tour."

A homophobic father's dilemma
"Um... honey. About Jr.? I think he's got a little Brokeback in him."

Lover's spat?
"Looks like a shoot-out at the Brokeback Corral"
"(Crackle) Attention all units. We have reports of a domestic at 123 Brokeback Street."

Casual observer?
"Look... those two dudes are going Brokeback on each other."
"Tres Brokeback. All they're missing are the spurs and the hats,"
though throwing in the French is a little Brokeback.
"Oooh... Patrons from the Brokeback Saloon."

Lowbrow and drunk:
"Hey Brokeback... (burrrp) Come on over here sssho I can (hic) kick yer ass."

Highbrow and drunk:
"I don't know if it's the Cosmopolitans talking, (hiccup) but I'm feeling a little Brokeback vibe from Professor Wiggins. I might just be drunk enough."

"He's the starting wide receiver for the Brokeback Mountain Lions."
Over-affectionate pal?
"Dude, it's just a game. Don't get all f*cking Brokeback on me."

"Was Justin Timberlake in the "Broke'street Boys or New Kids on the Block?"

And finally, the subtle...
"Sniff-Sniff. Is that Stetson or Brokeback?"

You can devise your own permutations ad nauseum. It seems to be the latest rage, regardless of your orientation. Unfortunately, Boys Don't Cry didn't serve the same purpose for the ladies. Personal Best also failed to yield good results.