Break from baseball sickening
Updated: March 2, 2009, 2:26 PM ETBy Buster Olney
You'll have a great time with the kids at Disney World, my friends told me. It'll be so much fun, they said. A nice break from baseball, they told me. What I didn't know is that my son is the Antichrist, apparently, when he gets within walking distance of a theme park. "Time to get up, Dad," he said Saturday morning, not so much lifting my eyelids as hoisting them. "The first bus comes at 8." Now, to be clear, I'm not exactly cut out of theme-park cloth. My parents bought a dairy farm in Randolph Center, Vt., when I was 9, intent on making their children's lives the most boring ever. Our big family trip was to the town of Randolph; once a week, we'd load up the car and make that six-mile journey. The largest body of water in the state of Vermont is Lake Champlain, which is an hour away from where I was raised, and I saw Lake Champlain for the first time -- no joke -- last year, at the age of 44. There were no such things as family vacations, because cows have to be milked every day, twice a day, and I really didn't know that much about Disney because we didn't have a television. So I can't say that I was teeming with enthusiasm when the kids excitedly explained to me that they wanted to be among the first on a ride called Splash Mountain. But, hey, it was for the kids, and after 30 years of haranguing my parents about the boredom they manifested in us, I was in no position to argue. It's a great ride, Sydney and Jake insisted, and they yanked on my arms and pulled me past the castle at Disney World, and then shoved me into the backseat of some small boat-like thing. Jake, the 4-year-old, grinned in a way that revealed all of his teeth. "This is great," he said. "Is your seat covered in water, too?" I asked him. "I'm totally soaked." "This is great," he said, shrieking as we went down a couple of little dips and around a corner. I looked ahead, where there appeared to be a couple of hoses intermittently spraying water in an arch. "You never know when it's going to spray," said 9-year-old Sydney. "Maybe it'll get you, Dad." Yeah, maybe it will. It was a setup. A rocket of water shot into the air, and five minutes into the kids' dream trek, my butt and my shirt were drenched. "This is great," Jake said. I wanted to go find a towel, maybe a store to buy some dry clothes. The kids wanted to run to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, just next door. A nice choo-choo, I thought. "This will dry you off, Dad," Sydney said. She was right. Turns out Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is incorrectly identified. Turns out it's a roller coaster, and every time that thing changed direction, I swear, water flew off me; it was the second of multiple assaults on my stomach lining. "This is great," Jake screamed, the curls in his hair straightened at every corner. It ended. Surely it was time for breakfast. "Dumbo Ride," Jake said. It looked harmless. All the kids in line seemed to range between 1 and 5. Easy enough. But when you're standing in line, the sun beating down, your butt still wet and your stomach still flipping from the Big Thunder ride, they don't tell you about the Dumbo joystick. We climbed into the elephant and Jake immediately reached over for the handle, and started popping the thing up and down. Friday night's cheeseburger began to rise. Jake saw my expression, and did this slow down his effort to create as much turbulence as possible? Of course not. "This is great!" Jake yelled. I staggered off the ride. I begged Sydney to intercede. "Dad, you said you wanted to go on rides," she said. "You gotta go on rides." The Winnie The Pooh ride. Nothing but little kids in line, but hey, I knew by then that this meant nothing, that all kids are seemingly impervious to motion sickness. I tried to imagine how the Winnie The Pooh story might be twisted into some kind of parent-crushing ride. Eeyore? No, moves too slowly. Pooh? Maybe the release of bees? Of course. Tigger. The bouncy Tigger. And of course, this part of the ride seemingly lasted twice as long as any other. "This is great," said Jake. I wondered if I might be the first ever to wretch in a honey pot. There would be no relief on the Peter Pan ride, I knew. All that pixie dust, all that flying over London. "Look, Dad, there's the crocodile," Sydney shrieked. Captain Hook was being devoured; I couldn't even think of food, by that moment. Five rides in the first hour and I had just about had it. And that's when Jake the Antichrist applied the coup de grace: the Teacup ride. Really, it didn't look that bad. You sit in a cup and it goes around in circles a little bit. I had no idea that the kids could accelerate the spinning by pulling on the disc in the center of the ride. "Faster!" Sydney said. It was a conspiracy. "Faster!" There's a scene in the "Right Stuff" when legendary pilot Chuck Yeager's plane plummets into an irreversible spin, the G forces driving his head to the side against the canopy of the cockpit. This is how I felt. "This is great!" the Antichrist screamed. I swear that everything I have eaten in my 45 years on this earth was gathering at the core of my stomach, like lava collecting before the eruption of a volcano. I began to imagine how it would look to the 200 or so toddlers waiting in line if they saw an adult erupt all over the flooring of the teacup ride. Thankfully, it ended, just in time. I let my wife take the rest of the rides, for the rest of the day, with her spawn. Writing about baseball is a much safer existence.
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