Ah, what wonderful memories. Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
Here's a Sunday Memory Drawer callback. All because I saw a commercial on TV about Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. A place I went to once and will never go back to again. But that should be no surprise.
Because I hate, absolutely detest any Six Flags amusement park. I was never a big fan when I was in the correct demographic. Now a bit older, I couldn't fathom ever visiting one of these places again. The more thrills a ride offers, the less likely I am to go on it. The funny thing is that I would tackle a roller coaster or something similar at a Disney park. As long as I'm not suspended upside down in mid-air, I'll do it. At a place with the mouse ears. But, at a Six Flags dump? Forget it.
This is not to say that I didn't frequent one back in the day. Right after college, the aforementioned Great Adventure opened in Jackson, New Jersey. A schlep certainly from the New York metropolitan area, but you made it if a group was going and perhaps, once again, you were trying to get...ahem...close to somebody. What better place to forge a romantic and maybe even intimate bond while somebody is throwing up onto your sneakers? Ah, those are the moments that create wonderful relationships.
Except there was one female friend that I went to Great Adventure with, not once but twice. Despite the fact that I didn't learn my lesson the first time. Two incredibly miserable days that have discolored my memories of Six Flags Great Adventure for eternity.
Okay, maybe I was a little dumb back then. This was somebody that I actually liked. Maybe even in that way which leads to serious dating and then selecting a fabric for living room curtains. In retrospect, what the hell was I thinking? But, concentrating on where I was at the time, she was probably as cute as a button.
Oh, how the mind...and your vision...can play cruel tricks on you.
Well, anyway, it was a summer day right after college graduation. A time when I should have been looking for gainful employment and a possibly worthwhile career. Nah, I took July and August off. And used my free time to live it up. Heck, I had the rest of my life to be responsible. I needed to goof off for a bit.
One of those time wasters was an excursion to Great Adventure. And this would be one of those rare stellar events where my best friend and college roommate would take in the amusement park with a couple of other friends. They just happened to be girls. There was no pairing off here. Just four folks going on some rides.
Okay, well, maybe I did have a slight agenda.
But, as luck and age would have it, my college roommate and I tended to be a little annoying on this day. Fooling around. Making fun of some of the other people in the park. And, for some bizarre reason, constantly trying to step on the back of each other's sneakers.
We were college graduates in diploma only.
All day long, we were each working hard to trip up the other. Stupid, I know, but there would be plenty of time for civility when we got jobs. For now, this was our complete focus. Getting each other to almost fall down.
So, as we went through those chain link mazes that arranged the lines of people waiting to board a ride, we'd step on each other's sneakers. At one point, he slammed down so hard on the back of my foot that it propelled me forward with a lurch. Convinced I was going to fall over and fast, I put my hands out to grab onto anything. For some reason that I can't explain, my right hand was clenched in a fist.
Innocently, my would-be girlfriend happened to be following the chain link maze in the other direction.
Her face and my fist had a rendezvous. The meeting place was her jaw.
I had accidentally punched her in the face.
Like a good sparring partner, the force of my hand made her wobble, but she never went down. I hadn't scored a technical knockout, but, regardless, I immediately began to apologize profusely. It wasn't my fault. My roommate had tripped me. Blame him. Are you okay? Is there anything I can do?
"No, I'm fine."
Ah, good, she was trying to be a trooper. Or so I thought.
For the rest of the day, we relived this drama over and over and over and over. Every time I looked at her, she was rubbing her jaw. Moving it from side to side to make sure it still worked. And reminding me at every single moment that I had socked her in the face. I was feeling bad enough as it was. Although she kept reassuring me that she was fine, she couldn't stop talking about the incident. I was getting to the point where I wanted to belt her jaw again and, this time, do it so she couldn't possibly speak another word.
Effectively, the day at Six Flags Great Adventure had been ruined.
Let's flash forward to a year later and another example of how I never learn my lesson. Back to Six Flags Great Adventure. With the same girl. This time, I'm bopping along with said person's sister and her own boyfriend. Luckily, he and I did not have the type of relationship where we felt comfortable stepping on each other's sneakers.
Sadly, that might have been the highlight of the day.
This was one of those summer dates where heat and humidity fit over the New York City metropolitan area like OJ's glove that was one size too small. You touched something and you were instantly glued to it by the moisture. A perfect day to sample the water rides at an amusement park. And, with its enormous log flume ride, Great Adventure was beckoning to us. I couldn't wait to go on this and get as wet as possible.
Apparently, I was the only one.
"Do we really want to go on the log flume?"
I was quite nice asking why she was so reticent. What I really wanted to ask was....
Are you freakin' kidding me??? It's 150 fucking degrees outside and the best way to cool off is to get sprayed with oodles of water. Why the hell did you come here anyway? To sit in a hot car and go through the safari land??? We can't do that anyway because my father's Buick has a vinyl top and the baboons like to eat the glue that holds that down. You stupid pain in the ass!!!
Or something like that.
I was oddly persistent and I'm not sure why. Maybe it was just that hot.
I must have been fairly persuasive because she ultimately caved in and went on the log flume. The big drop at the end of the ride would be just the start of my problems for the rest of the day.
As luck and fate would have it, my friend was the one who got the soaking on the ride. I mean, Poseidon-Adventure-Shelley-Winters-drowning wet. On a hot day like this, you'd dry in thirty seconds.
Nope. She immediately got off the ride and ran into the bathroom sobbing. Her sister scurried after her.
Uh oh. I'll go sit in the car. Maybe with the windows rolled up.
A few minutes passed as I sheepishly waited in a puddle. Finally, the sister emerged and I was in her cross hairs.
"Nice job. Now she's drenched and you have no idea what a problem this is causing because she's in the middle of having her period right now and this ride messed everything up and you should be more sensitive and be aware of things like this."
Now I wish somebody was stepping on the back of my sneakers again so I could fall forever and punch them both in the mouth.
How the heck was I supposed to know any of this? Is this published information? Do I look in the New York Daily News every morning for an update? National League batting averages, Belmont racing results, and, oh yeah, a listing of those women smack in the worst part of their menstrual cycles.
Effectively, another day at Six Flags Great Adventure had been ruined. While I did go back there several other times, I always was on my best behavior. The bad memories were always lingering.
And I always made sure to ask the question if I happened to be going there with a female.
How are you feeling today? Really?
Hmm, as I flashback to these bitter memories, I now remember there was one more ill-fated incident with this pain-in-the-anus. And I happened right here in sunny California.
Come back next week for the rest of the story.
Dinner last night: Grilled cheese sandwich at the Hollywood Bowl.