You don’t understand how that may be the hardest thing in the world for me to say. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, dearly. I know that, despite the fact that we rarely can spend ten minutes together without one of us rolling our eyes at the other or shuddering in gross disbelief (I do the former, she the latter… usually), I am very, very lucky. When I was a belligerent, headstrong teenager (no, not you, Sunshine, you gasp in disbelief) I am amazed she didn’t simply keel over in shock. Seriously, if the woman had emerged from my teenage years in a comatose state, muttering simply “One day… a daughter just like you…”, I would have thought she got off easy.
But still… that doesn’t mean I want to turn into her. A few years ago my dad and I were remodeling a bathroom in The Money Pit, and he actually threw me out of my own home (as I like to say, you can’t make this shit up, folks), I called her from my car as I drove away (well, what was I going to do? My dad said if I didn’t leave, he would, and he knows much more than I do about plumbing). She answered the phone.
“What happened?” (Have I mentioned she’s not entirely unlike the Olympia Dukakis character in Moonstruck?)
Me: Please tell me that Jimmy Buffett is my father.
She: (deep sigh) What happened?
Me: Just tell me you slept with him around the time I was conceived.
Me: Because I know that one day I will turn into either you or my father, and I want it to be Jimmy Buffett.
Sadly, my mom appears to have been a faithful wife. Or fiancee. Whatever (I was born suspiciously nine months and three days after my mom and dad exchanged vows). And, true to form, I am turning into ONE of my parents. To paraphrase Rachel from Friends, “I was so busy trying NOT to turn into my dad, I did NOT see that coming!”
How, you may wonder, did I make this deep self discovery? Simply put: Adventure Island.
Allow me to elaborate. For Father’s Day, Tash wanted to take her dad to Adventure Island. For reasons not germaine to this blog entry, she took me, too. (See, Ma? Some kids turn out OK.) Before you get ahead of me, no, it wasn’t the water rides that bothered me. Hours spent on the Ramblin’ Bayou, floating along in the urine of a million preschoolers and the almost certain possibility of swallowing a mouthful of water that I know, just know, is brimming with cryptospridium, e. coli, and giardia is NOT the problem. That, I can take in stride. No, what bothered me is probably something most of you don’t ever think about.
Yes, that DOES need to be capitalized. Because, you see, I hate- I’m using the word hate here- heights. Now, I will climb into a tiny plane without a second thought. I will float over Tampa Bay in an open cockpit, single-engine plane that, as regularly as a man on a high-fiber diet, will blow at least one cylinder every 6 – 8 weeks, look down at the ground 1000 feet below, and think, “God, this is amazing!” But get me up on a ladder- even 8 feet up- and I get dizzy. My calves clench, sweat beads up on my brow, and I feel like I can’t breathe. The very fact that I sit on a bar stool to work on my computer is, in and of itself, amazing (my feet don’t touch the ground when I sit in it). Last Friday I climbed into the loft at St. Pete Little Theatre and, much to my embarassment, couldn’t climb down without assistance from a very bemused technical director.
Suffice to say, heights are not my thing. So why, you may wonder, would I climb up several hundred feet willingly? Simply put: I love water, water rides, anything that gets me wet, I’m there. And the rides are cool. One of my favorite rides, Wahoo Rapids, lets four people slide down a closed tunnel at one time, achieving amazing speeds, splashing and spinning you the whole descent. I love it.
Except it has an open wooden staircase. The first few flights went fine- until we got to the part where it was open, only a flimsy wood railing about three feet high separating us from what I am sure is almost certain death. And I know- KNOW, mind you- that there is no way in hell I will ever get close enough to fall over, but still… my calves clench up. I start to sweat. My legs start to shake, and I am reduced to baby steps (because, I rationalize, anything more dramatic could make the entire structure collapse). Now, I am not a big girl. I’m no Calista Flockhart, but judging by the girth of a lot of the ladies I see at the water park, this structure MUST have been built to last, right? No matter. I become convinced that I am going to step on a piece of wood, it will crack, and I spiral down to a painful death.
It of course, doesn’t help that Sierra is there, just as shaky as I am. Of course, she’s half my age. I am the adult here, I remind myself. Be mature. Face your fear.
And then her dad points out that the ledge we’re stading on has no obvious supports. Sierra’s boyfriend starts to shake the railing. Adult, hell, I want to get down. I close my eyes… and in my mind, I see the whole structure collapsing in slow motion, my body twisting towards a jagged piece of pressure treated wood.
Bu the line moves. We end up on the stairs again. Her dad assures me that he will not let me fall. What fun this must be for him, really. And we go down the flume… which was great. Statistically, there is probably a much greater chance that I will die or break something on the actual water slide, but for some reason I can’t understand, this part doesn’t bother me at all.
So then we head to Key West Rapids, because stupidity is making the same decisions over and over and expecting different results. As an added bonus, these steps are simply concrete slats you can see between. Which is to say that if you stumble, you will find your leg dangling 200+ feet in the air. I refuse to move from each landing until I can make it up each flight of steps in one go. Ah, logic, thy name is Cathy.
It most assuredly does NOT help that SOMEONE keeps making jokes about the structural integrity of the steps on both rides. I close my eyes, and that’s when I realize… I am turning into my mother. I say as much to him.
“Well, I know THAT,” he responds, and for some reason I am annoyed that this amuses him. And then it dawns on me. When my mother got scared of things I thought were illogical fears, there was someone who taunted her in much the same manner. It was the same person who would tickle me until I couldn’t breathe and go out of his way to frustrate me in conversation- just for fun. I turn to him.
“Of course, you DO know who you’re turning into, right?”
“Who?” he asks.
On the next climb, he didn’t make fun of me at all.