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Friday, July 14, 2006 | It’s Saturday morning and already I can tell it’s going to a scorcher in La Mesa.
So I start thinking maybe it will be cooler in another city: Soak City to be exact.
I ask my daughter, Alex, if she wants to go to a city made of water and, not surprisingly, she says yes. I also managed to convince my brother to take his 6-year-old, Mitchell, and, better yet, convince him to pay the $8 parking fee.
If you’re not familiar with Soak City, let me clue you in: It’s not actually an incorporated city. It’s a water park east of Chula Vista that is full of slides, wave pools, a river and price gouging.
At least that’s the joke among my friends who have kids. It goes something along the lines of “The kids aren’t the only ones who get soaked. So does your wallet.”
It’s not that bad but it does cost $22 for adults and $15 for kids, plus another $5 if you want to rent an inner tube to go floating on the wave pool or rolling down the river that flows throughout the park.
Oh, and the prices of food are marked up as well. But sometimes, you have to live a little.
I certainly enjoyed the drive down there. My brother takes being a father very seriously so it was nice to discuss the crucial issues of parenting.
“Do you think Mitchell should go to the same high school as Alex?” he asked.
“Why do you ask?”
“Well, if they go to the same school, they’ll probably be close – and that’s great. But I figure Alex will probably have some cute friends and if he goes to a different high school, he may benefit because the girls might look at him as being more mysterious.”
“Good point. But since she’s only three maybe we can table this discussion for, say, another 10 years?”
Considering Mitchell is at the age when girl-hating starts and Alex is a girl, I was thrilled that they got along so well, even holding hands in the parking lot.
Since it was a hot day, every other person in San Diego County was right in front of us trying to buy tickets. I felt the pain of one cranky teen who asked her friends, “How long does it take to buy a ticket?
Once inside, I could see Alex had this amazed look on her face; a look that reminded me of when I first saw New York.
Of course, moments after that happened, I got mugged.
Moments after she saw Soak City, she was wet, climbing around “Dick’s Beach House,” a sort-of house that features a large bucket that fills and spills about every 30 minutes -just like my old apartment in Ocean Beach.
Alex enjoyed getting wet but didn’t like being pushed aside by slightly bigger kids. I didn’t mind getting wet but quickly discovered that wet rope ladders can be painful against bare feet, especially when some hyperactive kid is pushing you aside.
Eventually, I convinced Alex to go riding on the “Sunset River,” a fake river that goes around part of the park. It was nice riding in an inner tube with Alex and I will always cherish quiet moments like these (since they happen so rarely).
We met up with my brother and Mitchell who were both trying to cross a pool by jumping on plastic logs and Mitchell did it better than Steve. However, no one crossed better than the tattooed MILF who practically popped out of her bathing suit when she fell off the log.
That’s one thing that I found interesting. Although I’m only 41, I feel ten years younger and act quite immature. Still, I felt old when I saw lots of folks with kids who were Alex’s age – and all of them had tattoos. The parents, not the kids. Well, some of the kids.
It made me realize that when I go to PTA meetings in a few years, there’s a good chance some of the parents and teachers are going to have “tramp stamps” on their backs.
No wonder so many fathers are becoming more interested in their kids’ education.
Steve and I took the kids over to the wave pool so they could bobble up and down. Problem is, there weren’t any inner tubes available for free and the ones they rent for $5 were all being used.
This was a quandary so I did what any self-respecting father would do. I looked for an inner tube – any inner tube – that wasn’t being used and purloined it. I did this away from the kids so they wouldn’t see me stealing – and if you can PROVE I took your inner tube, I’ll pay you $2.50 since I didn’t use it that long.
It was fun bobbling on the wave pool but I call it “Splashus interruptus” because it always stops just when it’s getting good.
When that happened, we returned the “borrowed” inner tube to near where we found it and took Mitchell and Alex to the kiddie slides since they are too young to go on the real things.
Alex was running around and although I had my eye on her, I was nervous that I would lose her. I had a similar experience a few weeks earlier with my wife and didn’t want to happen again under circumstances where it would be completely my fault, instead of just partially.
One helpful tattooed parent with a goatee saw me with Alex and suggested I go down on the slide with her, adding, “You’re not supposed to, but I’ve seen lots of Dads do it.”
So I did it too but, wouldn’t you know, the teenage lifeguard immediately got on my case. My new friend with the tats shrugged and said, “I saw that he yelled at you. A little consistency would be nice, huh?”
That same consistent inconsistency happened when I grabbed an inner tube to go on the river.
Another teenage lifeguard yelled at me, “Uh, those rings aren’t allowed on the river.”
“Yes, but we’re leaving soon and I can’t find any others.”
“Those rings aren’t allowed on the river.”
Just then, fate came by in the form of a large group of people who pushed me and Alex down the river as I waved helplessly in hopes of convincing the teenage lifeguard that I really did want to get out of the river but couldn’t due to circumstances beyond my control .
And, of course, once I was out of her field of vision, I was no longer her problem.
By this time, the park was extra crowded and those inner tubes were becoming more popular than pardons at a women’s prison so my brother and I decided to cut our losses.
“Hey kids, are you hungry?”
“Yes,” they said in unison.
“Well, would you like healthy food that’s nutritious or would you like McDonalds?”
“McDonalds,” they said in unison.
“McDonalds it is,” we decided and left Soak City for now.
We may return but I think it may be until Alex is old enough to go on some of the bigger rides – or until I decide to get a tattoo and want to see as many potential samples as possible in one place.
Either way, it might be a while.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer whose idea of fun is arguing with his brother over which acts deserve to be in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send a letter to the editor.