Goths, Hookers, and Busch Gardens

People from the city are funny. I mean funny in the most sincere, honest, condescending manner my shallow heart can muster. I think it’s the toxic air, or maybe the heat from all the concrete. I was reminded of this recently while taking our kids on the yearly pilgrimage to Busch Gardens.

Busch Gardens is an awesome family experience. I say that, not because they’re paying me stacks of money to blog (I’ve asked), or because they gave me a quota for the phrase awesome family experience, or because they’ve endowed me with a year’s supply of lager. But because, face it, roller coasters and beer were meant to go together. Talk about product diversification. What went on at that meeting?

“Jim, beer sales are flat (pun intended). What’re your ideas for our new product line?”

Jim had just come back from the product lab where he’d tested eighteen experimental pilsners. His blurry mind was on next week’s vacation to Disneyland. He slurred, “I was shinking we oughsh to build a roller coasher, make people waish in line, and charge ‘em gobs of money.”


True to Jim’s vision, we spent half the day sweating through our shirts in line. As we strolled from ride to ride watching people, a thought congealed in my slow, country-boy brain.  City folks are… different. I mean pasty. Like pasty-white and shiny. I swear I saw the bride of Dracula, or maybe it was a goth, but either way we walked faster. The city fumes, I’ll bet. You’d never see a goth on the Eastern Shore riding a Cub Cadet mowing grass.

Not long after, we passed another young lady with shorts and black fishnet stockings. I covered my son’s eyes and spun around to make sure we hadn’t wandered into an Amsterdam exhibit. Jim’s market diversification had gone too far.

However, the fishnet hooker couldn’t compete with the lady in the skin-tight silk leopard-skin jumper. No, this wasn’t anywhere near the Amsterdam exhibit. It was where all good things happen. The barbeque pit. She was a particularly well-fed breed, accentuated by the shiny smooth fabric. Ever had food stuck between your teeth but no one have the courtesy to tell you? Well, no one ever told this poor woman that just because they make it in your size, doesn’t mean you should wear it. The city does that to people. What country girl in her right mind would leave the bedroom still wearing her cat costume?

My son tapped my shoulder. “Is that a new camouflage?”

I smirked. “No. But if I saw her from our deer stand, she’d be shot and mounted over a pool table.”

After that, we headed for the Griffin. That’s the ride that dangles you face-down, 205 feet from the ground, then drops free-fall. Not many folks were in the park yet, so I slid into the front-row line without my son noticing. It was his first go on the ride and by the time he figured out what I’d done, it was too late. He hung next to me in a harness, eyes big as eggs. The coaster dropped and his face turned so white it made a goth look healthy.

Seventy-one miles per hour is how fast you drop, which explains why all the dads fall asleep. That’s half the speed to not get run over on I-64. On the ride over I’d been driving twenty over the speed limit and was still passed by police cars and a white-haired lady in a Chevette with a Chihuahua on her lap. Griffon was a lullaby.

One thing everyone seemed to enjoy throughout the park was texting. That’s a disease the city folks have spread to us in the country. It’s where, instead of enjoying the beauty around them, a person is no longer able to lift their head or speak. You see the afflicted in herds, milling about aimlessly, staring down at a screen that, I assume, has a video camera showing them where to go. They were everywhere, mumbling, typing furiously. The park has set up kiosks selling sports cream for thumb cramps.

But the cameras don’t work because texters ran into everything from water fountains to railroad crossing signs to sports cream displays. Busch Gardens has hired extra workers to keep them out of the flower beds. The disease used to only affect the youth, those with less developed immune systems. Now, even the grey-haired can’t escape.

But don’t let the goths or hookers or herds of mumbling texters discourage you from visiting Busch Gardens. It is an awesome family experience. I am, after all, completely unbiased.

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