Thursday, April 16, 2009


One of my favorite books is The Cider House Rules by John Irving. The story illustrates how there are different types of rules, and the difference between the letter of a law and the spirit of a law. Some rules exist more for the benefit of the rule maker, rather than to protect those that must obey the rule. Some rules must be followed implicitly, others have some wiggle room.

I have never been all about The Rules. I excercise good judgement, the golden rule, karma, etc. and have managed to pretty much stay out of trouble most of my life.

I recently came up against one of Those Rules that just makes no sense whatsoever for those that must follow it. The kids and I were at Six Flags riding rollercoasters. This year, they implemented a "no loose articles" rule. This means that that silly bear you won at skeeball, or the $4 souvenier cup, or your little shoulder bag with sunscreen, a water bottle and snacks cannot FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER be brought anywhere near a roller coaster. Gone are the little cubby holes you used to stow this stuff in while you were riding the roller coaster. New are the banks of lockers outside every ride, where for ONE DOLLAR, you can stow your loose article each and every time you ride a roller coaster.

I don't think so.

So, I would simply sling my little bag over my shoulder and then put my hoodie on over it and none of the Park Monkies who police the line looking for loose articles were the wiser.

Some of the rides were to scary for Bridget. So, we'd get to the head of the line, and I'd hand her my bag, she would cross the platform to the other side, and wait the 30 seconds that Aidan and I were screaming our heads off, upside down over solid concrete. A pretty good little system.

So.... here we are, blithely heading for yet another roller coaster and I figure Bridget can be the Keeper of the Loose Articles since she isn't riding the ride. She IS, however, waiting in line with us, as I am not leaving my 10-yr old daughter unattended on some park bench in the middle of Six Flags.

The Park Monkey stops us. "Ma'am, you can't take that on the ride" he gestures with his official height-checking stick. I point to Bridget and say "She's not riding this roller coaster, she'll hold it for me." He says, "If she's not riding the ride, she can't be in the line." I don't even have to point out to you, intelligent blog readers, the Very Big Flaw in this Rule.

I say to the kids, "C'mon kids, let's go ride another ride." Aidan immediately freaks, "MOM! I really really really want to ride The Titan!" "Shhhh!" I hiss out of the corner of my mouth "Just follow me and keep quiet!"

We round a corner and I hand him my bag. "Put this on," I say. His mouth drops open as if I've just asked him to be my Mule. Hmmmm.... I guess I just have. He starts arguing, I give him The Look. He shrugs the bag onto his shoulders and I tell him to untie his hoodie from his waist and put it on over the bag and zip it up.

Meanwhile, I don my baseball cap which was in the bag, and take MY hoodie OFF and tie it around my waist. "Ok, we're ready! Let's go ride The Titan!"

Aidan is confused. "But, but, but...." Look," I say. "That kid won't recognize us. You WERE wearing green, now you're in gray. I WAS wearing pink, now I'm in blue. AND I have a hat. We are now a completely different family."

Up to the head of the line we sashay, just like we own the place. "Have a nice ride, Ma'am!" the Park Monkey says.

I think I've just schooled my kids in the art of deception. That's almost as bad as teaching them to lie! How long 'til it comes back to bite me in the butt?

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