A few weeks ago, Luca and Elijah returned home from an amusement park with friends and said breathlessly, “Great America changed me.”
And then began a relentless campaign of badgering me to take them to Duff Gardens, I mean Great America. It just so happened that Diana had an upcomming trip planned to watch a band she followed around in her youth. So I agreed to take the day off and conscripted Tom and Steve and their kids to join us.
Because God likes a good joke, a massive heat wave hit the week we were going to go. I tried to explain it might be too hot to safely visit Great America. But the only words they heard were “Visit Great America.” There was no getting out of it.
Last Saturday, we plowed our car through the humidity and ignored the radio DJs pleas to stay indoors. As we waited for the gates to open, I realized if you want to beat the long lines at the amusement park, a dangerously hot day was just the ticket.
Eli and I peeled off from the group and went to his number one target: The Superman Rollercoaster. This is that ride where you dangle, Superman style, from the coaster instead of sitting like a human being.
As we inched closer to the front, I noticed kid after kid getting bounced from the line for being too short. I instructed Eli to measure himself against the little Red/Green stick. He was in the red by about an inch or two. I could tell from his expression that he really, really wanted to do this. So I told him to stand on his tiptoes as we approached the ride.
I shoved him to an inside position and with a static-y garble, the safety arm swung down over our heads. Eli said, “Daddy?” and I regretted my decision to skirt the rules. He was absolutely swimming in the apparatus. He seemed secure. But was he really? I almost raised my hands to the operator to get us out of there. I remained silent because causing a scene was way worse than my son’s safety.
As we clicked our way up the first hill, I instructed Eli to hold my hand. I was pretty sure I could hold into him through the 9 Gs we’d be experiencing if he fell out.
I screamed, “I love you!”
Eli screamed, “This is great!” Those are some pretty fine last words.
After the ride, Eli begged me to go again but I refused, saying it would never be as good the second time around.