The AstroWorld Perplexion
Pandemic Dreams Volume Five
It was a school trip to AstroWorld, complete with school buses, but we were also adults. My friends Mike and Sean were on one bus with me, and we wore our matching red school tank tops like everyone else. My daughter was on another bus; she wasn’t in the same grade. I also dont’t think I saw her again after we boarded the bus.
On the ride to the amusement park, I had to decide what I was going to wear once we got there, to complete my fashionable ensemble. I settled on my deer-and-beer-keg pajama pants from Old Navy. It seemed like a reasonable choice at the time. My jeans with my wallet and keys in the pocket would remain on the bus; there was going to be a teacher or bus driver there the whole time, so everything would be safe.
Once we got to AstroWorld, we had to decide which ride to visit first. Somehow we settled on my least favorite ride ever, the Tidal Wave1 It’s the one where you get in a giant sled that hits the water and makes a big splash. A giant log ride-type thing. I hate being wet walking around the park, and especially when it’s the first ride. I feel miserable carrying the extra weight, and it just makes things chafe. I don’t like it when it chafes.
The boarding process was fraught; there was a family that wanted to sit together, but the way the seats were arranged it didn’t look like that was going to be possible. The park employees did their best to rearrange everyone, but in the end they all had to be separated anyway. The “boat” itself wasn’t the same as it was in real life. Instead of just a row of wide benches, it was arranged more like a fiberglas pleasure boat, with comfortable couches and covered storage wells in the floor for…bait? Ski equipment? I never found out what that was about, on an amusement park ride.
The ride proceeded much as I assumed it would. I was bored, the drop itself was slightly thrilling (yet not as thrilling as an actual roller coaster), and the splash at the end was simultaneously amazingly theatrical and anticlimactic. I barely got wet at all, but was wet enough to ponder whether I should go back to the bus and change into my one-hundred-percent-dry jeans, or remain in my pajama pants. I also didn’t have any money because my wallet was in my jeans, and how was I going to eat?
Getting off of the boat was a stressful endeavor in itself. For some reason they made us practically crawl out of the boat underneath one of the painted brown wooden beams that made up the fence and walkway next to the ride. It was literally a disorienting experience; while I was making the transition from boat to walkway, I lost track of which way was up and scrambled to find my bearings. It was genuinely perplexing how such a construction came to be. While I continued to ponder whether I should return to the bus for my pants, I ranted to my buddies about how that entire ride was completely inaccessible for disabled patrons; how were they supposed to get off that boat and crawl under the fence?
Unlike most of my other pandemic dreams (See this one, this one, this one, and this one) I know the precise genesis of this one. My friend Lara shared some photos on Instagram of some AstroWorld swag she had hoarded from her youth, and amongst the other items was a Tidal Wave t-shirt. Thanks, Lara. ↩