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Arcades and French Fries and Stray Hairs, Oh My

In December of 2018, my family and I visited an indoor waterpark and resort near the Tri-State Area. I had read a few reviews of the place before we visited, and we had stayed at some family-friendly resorts before, so I had a general idea of what to expect. In case you’ve never been to one of these places and are considering going, I took some notes that you might be able to use for future reference. Overall takeaway: beware of hairs, bugs, and people.

1. Enter the hotel lobby only to be greeted by mass hysteria. Although it’s not officially check-in time, hundreds of people are on line to check in. Join the line, which is longer than the one people wait on to meet the Pope. Watch people wheeling cases of snacks and beverages across the lobby. Wonder why you didn’t get the memo about bringing your own sustenance. See people walking barefoot, dragging stray hairs (curly) and leaving puddles. They are probably spreading an incurable flesh-eating bacteria, and maybe crabs. Start to panic.

2. After checking in (but not getting a room), check your luggage. Spot a store and stock up on bottled water and snacks for the room (which you don’t have). Look for signs of illness. Avoid them. Shit, that kid is coughing. Cover your kids’ mouths and noses, reflexively, as if that will help. Look for people who look like kidnappers. Try to avoid them. Tough to do because everyone looks like a kidnapper.

3. Eat the healthiest lunch available that doesn’t include romaine (kills people) or other fresh produce (because it’s been cleaned with sink water, which, based on the sheer amount of bottled water rolling through the lobby, is dangerous): soft pretzel, fries, and chicken tenders. Skip dessert because you’re a saint. 30 minutes later, your kids are decorating cookies, so you eat one. By the end of the day, you will have ingested 5,000 calories’ worth of crap. Wait, what’s that sound? It’s the sound of your jeans ripping in the butt. True story.

4. Realize you didn’t wash your hands after your trip to the bathroom (before lunch) because your toddler had taken off, probably headed directly into the arms of a kidnapper with the flu and a flesh-eating disease. Consider cutting off your hands and possibly your mouth. Make a mental note of all the ways in which the hotel’s security could be improved, and look for a manager to speak to.

5. Get a room. Check all mattresses in the room for bed bugs. This will require a group effort, because mattresses are heavy. Husband groans and rolls his eyes. You secretly hope he’s the only one who gets bitten. Try to make daughter feel better when, prior to her getting in the shower for the first time, she notices four different hairs in the tub. Wonder aloud if maybe you should just drive home, sleep there, and come back the next day. It would only add four hours of driving to your trip. Husbands glares at you because you don’t know how to drive.

6. Never, and I mean never, take off your shoes unless absolutely necessary. Like unless Moses appears with a tablet from God stating, “Thou shalt remove your shoes; carefully, so as to avoid all types of disease.” Ask Moses to part the longest line to the water slides as proof of his identity.

7. Spend an ungodly amount of money at the arcade (aka junior casino). It’s impossible to keep track of your spending because you are disoriented as a result of frenetic yelling (yours and others), dinging bells, flashing lights, and whining children, but you estimate the damage to be between $300 and $1,000. When everyone is finished playing, pool your 5,031 tickets and trade them in for three Jolly Ranchers, a pack of gum, and a mini basketball.

8. Sign up to do an escape room with your big kids. Wait an hour. Because it’s located at the back of the arcade, spend more money on games. Realize you’re actually pretty good at arcade basketball! Can you earn any money from that? Food for thought. Finally enter the escape room to discover that, while you may be pretty good at basketball, you are not at all good at escaping a room. Every few minutes a voice crackles over a hidden speaker and asks, in an incredulous and irritated manner, “Do you need another clue?” F*ck no, I do not need another clue! I am double Ivy League educated! Turns out I did need another clue.

In summary, the kids had a blast, the mom “ate herself bad” (my middle’s favorite phrase), and the dad went on almost all of the water slides that he was commanded to go on. A good time was had by all. Actually, a time was had by all. The kids' time was good. I guess that's the whole point.

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