We went to the dells. Growing up in Florida, we had a lot of cool natural stuff to enjoy–rivers, lakes, Disney–and we had beaches. A lot of them. No matter where you are in Florida, you’re never more than an hour and a half from the beach. So in my childhood memory box are sweaty trips down the Bee-line (that’s a highway, not a train) to New Smyrna and Daytona beach.
But in all my years there, I never learned to surf. Believe it or not, people in Florida surf. You don’t get the same kind of waves they get in Cali or Hawaii for the love of God, but you can catch a wave and stand up and do some tricks before you run over the pale people of Michigan standing in the shallows looking for sharks.
I did learn to body surf which is a remarkable skill for a fat guy. I can jump in the face of a wave and ride it in and let me tell you, it’s a very cool feeling and I can only assume it’s twice as cool on a surfboard.
And being a teen in the land of lakes and Daytona, I can tell you stories of women losing their tops i the waves or behind a ski-boat, it’s happened millions of times. How many people do we know who’ve dived into a pool only to leave their shorts on the surface with their pride. But it’s never happened to me.
Until the Dells.
Our son, the Finagler, finagled his way into the vacation plans of some close friends who were visiting a Ukrainian Youth Camp in Baraboo, WI. A Ukrainian Youth Camp is a clapboard motel refurbished only enough so that live snakes and bears can’t actually reach through the walls to eat you. It is not the height of luxury. My son went there and we met them a few days later, booked a room 20 miles north in the Dells, picked him up and took off.
In the days preceding that, my son had gone to a place called Noah’s Ark which is water-park heaven, and lost his water park cherry, and grown fierce and brave and determined to find a slide, somewhere, that was actually vertical and hopefully deposited riders into the open air a half mile over a shark infested vat of radioactive yak vomit. That would be perfect for him.
We booked a hotel that included the world’s largest indoor water park and when we gazed upon it’s polycarbonate glory, my son punched me in the arm and demanded that I ride every slide with him to which I acquiesced then vomited into a garbage can.
The first slide we go on is called the Man-Eating-Blade-Choked-Maw-of-Death-Python and like most of the slides is an enclosed tube modeled somewhat on the lower intestines in which you are voluntarily flushed into a small pool whereupon you crack you skull on the cement berm at the far side. The tube has something like 75 turns and 131 drops and it lies somewhere between 88 and 90 degrees of vertical so at some points you’re not sliding so much as falling feet first in total darkness with nothing but the sound of your own scream–but it’s ok because it only lasts about 45 minutes.
To get to the beginning of these slides, you walk up 44 flights of stairs, the elbows of the slides resting just inches away so that everytime a body slams into the turn, you can feel the concussion, like a piano dropped off the back porch. So it’s great, after throwing yourself down “The Well” which is an unlighted vertical pit with rocks and dead bodies in the bottom and getting your heart rate up to 300 beats per minute, you then have to carry a 3-tone raft back up all 631 flights of stairs. I fnally threw myself off the top to commit touristocide but landed in some guy’s commemorative Mai Tai.
Once we’d exhausted the terrifying out door slides we went to the indoor park for the terrifying indoor slides and as we walked in noticed theri was a surf ride, a standing wave. You stood at the top and simply dropped in. It was far too cool to pass up AND had the benefit of only being about 10 feet tall and SLOPED so not only were there no dark turns, I could slip down the thing and survive. We stood in line and watched the Wisconsin lifeguard/superjock/surf nazis do their little hot dog routines to impress the girls. They flipped, spun, rolled and finally fell down the front of the way rolling headfirst into a flip out which they simply walked up to the nearest blushing girl-will-go-wild like they’d just stepped out of their dorm. I fugured if a perfectly buff 19 year old hot shot farm boy can do it, so can I.
So my son’s turn came and he was surprisingly adroit, staying up on his “board” and having a blast before he fell off and was blasted back up to the landing area. Then my turn came.
I know from my writing you probably think I’m some George Clooney/Matt Damon double and
thanks for the compliments, and the flowers, really. But truth is, I’m sligtly overweight. And hairy. And by slightly overweight, I mean it looks like I might give birth to a fully grown wildabeest at any moment and by hairy I mean I can braid the hair on my back. And I don’t tan well. Furthermore, Id like to say that I’m bringing sexy back. Mostly because it looks like a minitaure orange speedo on me.
So I drop in from the top, half expecting the thing to shut down and management come out and have a talk with me but, amazingly, I glide down the face of this wave with real grace and panache and then I kind of hang there in the middle, just like you’re supposed to, surfing. My inner nine-year old retarded sociopath takes the controls and convinces me to try to skim from side to side like the surf jockies were doing so I lift the edge of my raft and it throws me off into the three hundred mile and hour wave and eats my pants.
Now, in a lake, if you lose you shorts, you can stand there and try to get the attention of your friends and hope to god they’ll help you out. Even in a pool you can stand in the deep end and beg someone to throw you a towel. But the standing wave water that shoots out of the wave machine at a fierce three hundred miles an hour is only six inches deep. There’s nowhere to hide.
In slow motion, I feel my pants ripped down to my knees any my own personaly indoor water park is exposed to the horror and permanent scarring of all the prepubescent teens (now all in queue to become monks) lined up to surf.
Let my just report that I kept my cool, knowing there is nothing NOTHING you can do in this situation except try to make it as brief as possible. As I rolled up the wave to be deposited onto the “bank” at the top, I managed to yank my suit back up to the frugal position it originally occupied while rolling in such a manner that the poor afflicted youth were merely mooned and not faced with the full Monty. And let it be further known that I was man enough to make a joke about it and walk calmly down the stone steps back out into the water park.
Then I went right to my hotel room and locked myself in the closet.
Originally posted 2007-07-26 21:07:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter