Thursday, April 9, 2009

Porridge...Haircuts...and the Most Overrated Carnival Attraction in History


That Goldilocks had some nerve. Everyone thinks of her as some sweet, innocent girl that just happened upon a house one day, downed a little oatmeal, and took a nap. Harmless, right? I think not. First of all, once you get past the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with reading a fairy tale, you realize that homegirl should have really been picked up on a felony "breaking and entering" charge. Who just goes in a strange house and starts gobbling up all the good grub sittin' around? And it isn't like she just flagged one bowl of the "porridge." She tried the first two, didn't find them to her liking, then proceeded to absolutely destroy the third bowl.

To be honest, she was one lucky little criminal. Anytime you stumble upon a territory occupied by a trio of bears AND they catch you sleeping in the act, you really should be a goner at that point. But these bears apparently spent way too much time reading about how to act from Stan and Jan Berenstain, thus allowing Goldilocks to stroll right out of the crib without any physical confrontation. I guess we knew the Bears were bizarre from the get-go, though. After all, who prepares three delicious bowls of "porridge," only to leave them sitting uneaten on the kitchen table while they cool off? You make something...you eat it. Simple as that. If it's a little too hot, that's the breaks. You eat through the pain. How do you think I got this 3rd degree burn on the roof of my mouth? A Totino's pizza roll practically exploded in my jaw back in November of 2004. Could I have given myself a five minute breather and allowed the little fellas to chill a little bit? Sure. But that's not how men work...and I thought bears lived by that same law. Guess not.

And through all the variations of the story, they always manage to call it "porridge." Why didn't they just call it what it really was?? Cream of Wheat. Nobody in their right mind is risking 10 years in the big house for a sampling of some porridge. But you can be sure that myself and many others would willingly take that chance for a large, free helping of Cream of Wheat. You can't beat that dish. The smooth texture. The perfect blend of "Am I a snack or am I actually a full breakfast meal"?? And lastly, the brown sugar. Has anything ever complemented another food so well? Sure, brown sugar makes a strong impact on sweet potatoes and chocolate chip cookies. But where it really leaves its lasting impression is the consistently underrated Cream of Wheat. You give me the USA Today Sports page, a tall glass of O.J., and a hot bowl of Cream of Wheat...and just let me be. I'm officially in heaven...

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I understand where you're coming from, haircutting professional. In the process of trimming the locks, hair will be flying off of my dome. This is why at the beginning of the whole event, you equip me with a cape. Usually of a dark purple color that makes me look like The Count from Sesame Street, this cape does its job by protecting my clothes from the haircut about to commence. But here's the million dollar question.

Why are you tying that cape so tight around my neck that there is a good chance I might make it out of here looking good, but lacking a pulse??????

Admittedly, I don't want hair all over my shirt, pants, and shoes when I leave the joint. However, this does not mean I enjoy having all blood flow in my circulatory system cut off in the process. It'd be one thing if the cape were just kept intact by the little button they connect at the top. But no, they also have to wrap that series of white tissue around your collar, locking the cape in tightly and forcing your breathing to become increasingly halted. If given the choice, I think I would prefer a little post-haircut laundry as opposed to possible suffocation and a trip to the emergency room. But that's just me.

So next time the barber is preparing you for the big moment, and the cape/tissue hogtie comes flying out, don't hold anything back. Let them know how you feel. It just might save your life.

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You're in line for 15 minutes. The excitement level is palpable. You cannot imagine the endless possibilities that await. When it's finally your turn, you hand over your two tickets and speed towards your weapon of choice. You strap in and wait for the switch to be flipped and for the music to start rockin'. But does the next two minutes EVER live up to the hype? Sadly, that answer is no. Welcome to the world of Bumper Cars.

First off, there is an excellent chance that the car you pick will end up stalling on the start. This means you are left sitting in the middle of the little arena with nothing to do except wait to get slammed into continuously by other rabid 9-year-olds. You try to get the guy's attention that is running the show, but it is difficult to scream and make any sense when you are being bludgeoned to death via mini-car collisions. Plus, he is so into his garlic fries and cherry slushee that a bomb could go off in the Fun House next door and he wouldn't bat an eye. Being caught flat-footed in a non-working Bumper Car is about as helpless a feeling that a human being can have.

And let's say the vehicle you select starts right up and is humming from the get-go. Well, good luck steering the thing. No matter which way you turn that wheel, 95% of the time you will end up going left. It's the truth. A lot of the old Bumper Cars had the ever-confusing "turn left to go right, and vice versa" systems. Trying to master this technique in your minimal time allotted out on the track is similar to attempting to crack a Rubik's cube in under a minute. In other words, unless you are Will Smith from The Pursuit of Happyness, more clock will be necessary. The steering wheel itself was just abnormal. I believe it is the same one employed at Whirly-ball, meaning you have a small, plastic oval, that comes out of a long, black tube. Essentially you are forking over two dollars for the opportunity to be driven insane.

Even if you did end up getting it going AND mastering the kamikaze steering, there were still problems on the horizon. While you tried to remain near the middle at all times to pick up speed and pick off unsuspecting motorists, sometimes you'd find yourself driving near the rail or the corner. Big mistake. Inevitably, some overzealous, overgrown teenager would try and deliver a big blow, only to instead awkwardly wedge you up against the barrier. Now you are entrenched in Bumper Car Hell. Stuffed between the wall and another vehicle, unable to wiggle out of this maddeningly frustrating predicament. And of course, the dude has no idea how to back up his rig. Both of you are stuck, and your only "hope" is that a third party will come up and just bash the daylights out of everybody, enabling you to break loose and continue. What a blast!

Of course, what would Bumper Cars be without its trademark Whiplash? Ahh, what a feeling that was. Driving along, enjoying your day, not a care in the world...then bang! You are slammed into from the side, without a moment's notice. These cars might only go 7 mph, but somehow it feels like your 3-speed Huffy was just barreled into by a fully equipped Silverado. After regaining feeling in your neck, you take a look to see which of these little mooks took you out. But you need not bother.

It's always the same guy.

He's an adult male, about 5'8". Weighs somewhere between 220 and 375 pounds. Has the moustache/goatee combo, but one that is more the result of sheer laziness instead of genuine desire for the look. He's not topless, but it's close. He wears a t-shirt with the sleeves lopped off, but he cut too far into the fabric. So instead of just being treated to this guy's "guns show," you're now also being treated to his "Hey, I should probably be wearing some type of bra and now you can see why" show. On the front of this garment, it reads in big, block letters, "1992 Pepsi Monster Truck Mega-Clash at the Dome." But it's difficult to make out that last part because there is a huge red splotch, acquired during a violent encounter with a foot-long Meatball Hoagie from Tubby's 15 years ago. The eagerness to dive into the sandwich caused a large chunk of marinara to find it's way onto homeboy's shirt...he still hasn't noticed. And to go with the cutoff tee...what else? Jean shorts. Not just any jean shorts. Jean shorts that could probably be taken out about 14-16 inches. You wonder why this man with such a vast waistline would choose to go with such a snug fit, but then you realize he bought these in the summer of '96 when he was in relatively good shape and he had not yet discovered the $5 Hot-N-Ready. He has a little bit of hair left on his melon, but he covers that up with a mesh-style trucker hat. While the rest of the world connects the hole in the back to assure a comfy fit, this guy leaves it totally unhitched to achieve the maximum slob look. He picked up this atrocious cap for $3.99 at a local Speedway, along with a 6-pack, some spark plugs, and a pair of chili dogs from the "grill" that had been rotating in the same groove for the last decade. The lettering on the hat just reads, "TIGERS," but is written in such a nondescript way that it seems like it's more a representation of the animal itself than the professional baseball team. He should not have even been here. It was supposed to be his weekend with the two kids (one boy, one girl, both juvenile delinquents), but he couldn't resist turning into the fairgrounds when he got a big whiff of funnel cake and corn dogs out of the driver's side window of his beat up '95 Jimmy. It's always calories over kids for this behemoth waste of space. You look back at him one last time, as your eyes slowly de-glaze and the stinging feeling finally leaves your forever changed spinal column. But he's already gone...off to deliver another bone-shaking, whiplash-causing blow to an innocent 4th grader just looking for a couple of laughs on a Saturday afternoon.

That, my friend, is the world of Bumper Cars...and I'm never goin' back.


Drop a thought below, or let me know of your own personal Bumper Cars story at highsockslegend@gmail.com

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

You went so far past the line on that bumper car stuff, I can't even see you anymore. Man did you go off on a tangent there!! Clearly you have a horrid whiplash memory you just can't get rid of...