There are days in every family that shall live in infamy. In my own family, it always seems to the worst case of “fill-in-blank” we ever had. Like the first New Year’s Eve I spent with my husband. We both were recovering from a stomach ailment but because I had started first, I was in the “best” shape to head to the grocery store and buy us some ginger ale to ring in the new year.
And then there was that time that we were driving around Maryland looking for a new place to live and my son suddenly said he had the worst headache ever. I stopped to by him some ibuprofen and came out to find my mother hovering over him as he threw up in the parking lot. And he hadn’t even been drinking (that’s a joke – he was only 5 years old at the time).
In my family growing up, our infamous days never really involved sickness. They involved some sort of family drama. Granted, we had a totally different family dynamic. We weren’t a cozy little family of three. We were a loud, messy family of six. And when we took trips anywhere, it seemed to magnify our craziness. We laughed, we cried, and yes, sometimes someone even got sick.
One particular memory takes me back to one of our family “vacations.” We never had a lot of money for vacations so usually it meant a day trip or maybe even an overnight to a nearby amusement park. We’d do trips to Kings Dominion and occasionally Busch Gardens (when we were then tortured by Colonial Williamsburg, which is funny because I actually enjoy it as an adult).
On this particular trip, we were headed up to make the rounds in Lancaster County (Amish country) and finally travel to Hersheypark.
When you’re a kid growing up in rural Southern Maryland, a trip to an amusement park that also included a chocolate world might as well be the equivalent of Willy Wonka telling you he’s giving you his chocolate factory. As we made our way into the park, we had two things on our minds: chocolate and coasters. More specifically, the Sooper Dooper Looper.
To understand the significance of this ride, you’d have to go back to 1978 or so (which is around when I’d estimate that we went). High-speed, high-thrill rides weren’t that easy to come by and this ride was the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast. My older brother and sister and I had declared that we would ride that ride and we would conquer it.
Now, here’s where my memories get fuzzy. I remember we talked nonstop about this ride. We begged our parents to take us on this ride. And I’m sure we even whined to get on this ride. And we didn’t get to ride it.
Truth be told, I was a chicken when it came to thrill rides so I strongly suspect that even if given the opportunity, I probably wouldn’t have ridden it. But we’ll never know. Because my dad, who is deathly afraid of heights, chickened out. And my mom, who get nauseous on rides, back out. Honestly, I’m not sure if they ever had any intention of taking us on that ride but the joy of the day and even of the chocolate could not console us. We were devastated not to be able to go on that ride.
So instead, my mother bought all three of us kids a black t-shirt with white lettering on the front that said:
“I survived the Sooper Dooper Looper.”
The irony is almost too painful even for me. Even for an Alanis Morrissette song. That day at Hersheypark is one that will live in infamy.
This story, however, may still have a happy ending.
I’ve been invited to Hershey, Pennsylvania this weekend for Sweet Welcome 2015. It’s a chance for me and a few other bloggers to take in everything Hershey has to offer for families. I might just be staying in a hotel I’ve always wanted to visit (The Hotel Hershey) and I might be getting to spend a few hours in Hersheypark on Saturday all by myself.
You know what’s coming next, right? I will be riding that Sooper Dooper Looper and I will be buying that t-shirt, this time without the irony.
If you want to follow along with me this weekend, just watch my Twitter and Instagram feed for anything with #Hersheypark and #HersheyPA.