I could hear loud music playing from inside the theme park as I was walking toward the front entrance—though, I was too far-off to make out what type of music it was. A trail of empty beer cans lay on the ground amid different color glow sticks, many of which had long lost their juice. I spotted a crumpled pamphlet for the park on the sidewalk and decided to give it a look through. The park seemed to have everything: Red Cup Ring Toss, Philanthropy Falls Log Rides, Pastel Play Land, Beer Bong Bouncy House… and at the bottom of each page, written in bold, read:
Guaranteed 2:1 girl to guy ratio during open hours.
I was a few feet from the entrance when a worker approached me. He was wearing Ray Bans, a backwards Titleist hat, a pair of pink Chubbies shorts along with a tank top that said Reagan Bush ’84, despite the fact that he hadn’t yet been born during that time. “Welcome to Knott’s Sperry Farm. Who do you know here?”
It was my first weekend as a single guy in two and a half years. I used to think Jennifer and I would get married, but towards the end of the relationship it went down hill pretty fast. At first it was a lot of fighting about relationship issues. It quickly steamrolled into non-stop fighting about the most asinine of things. “The TV volume is supposed to be on even numbers, I mean, everyone knows that Jennifer!” She is the love of my life, but I guess if the Universe doesn’t want us to be together, then who am I to question it? That was my way of justifying it, at least. I woke up with eight empty cartons of apple sauce on the ground, a pile of cold Tostitos Pizza Rolls on my stomach, and a half eaten Einstein’s bagel smeared with peanut butter on my lap. “It was a good night,” I said, approving of my post-breakup actions the best I knew how; eating myself into a coma. It was mid-day so I knew my roommate, and best friend, Chandler, had already left for his job at the fairgrounds working at Knott’s Sperry Farm. He frequently invited me to come visit the park but Jennifer didn’t care much for theme parks, and by the associative property of having a psychotic, controlling girlfriend, I had to “not care much for theme parks” as well. “I’m a free man now,” I said out loud. “I can do what I want. If I want to leave the toilet seat up, I can leave the toilet seat up. If I want to go to a theme park, I can go to a theme park!” I cleaned myself and the apartment up, so as not to get ants, and sent a text to Chandler,
“Yo I’m gonna roll through to Knott’s Sperry Farm today. Expect to see your beautiful face working the cotton candy machine.”
“Who is this?”
“Ha-Ha. For real this better be fun. I don’t even want to think of Jennifer right now.”
“It will, trust me. Speaking of… you think Jennifer is into me? She always kinda gave me this look when she came over.”
I knew he was kidding, but before I had the chance to text him back about how much of an asshole he was, he texted me again saying, “Just kidding bro. After an hour here, you’re not even gonna care about Jennifer anymore.”
“Uhhh,” I stammered to the guy working the front entrance, taken aback by his reluctance to let me in.
“Unfortunately, we are at maximum capacity right now,” the worker said while simultaneously waving a group of four girls that were behind me through into the park. Maximum capacity didn’t apply to groups of girls, I quickly gathered.
“Wait, I’m friends with Chandler. He should be working today, I think.” The worker waited for a second, seeming to think it over.
“Enjoy your visit to Knott’s Sperry Farm,” the worker moved aside to let me through. “And make sure to try our patented Jammin’ Jungle Juice,” he said in a monotonous tone, as if part of a script he’d recited a thousand times.
Immediately as I entered the park, there were vendors everywhere. They were selling everything from fake ID’s as souvenirs, to merchandise with the Greek letters, KSF, plastered everywhere. I saw Chandler’s booth and went up to him with my hands out, ready for him to give me the only type of cotton mouth I enjoyed.
It’s not that I’m some boring girl who’d rather stay inside and watch TV on a nice day than to go outside and make the most of it. I just don’t like the idea of theme parks. I’m expected to pay a large amount of money to stand in line all day, sweating in the hot sun; pay for an overpriced lemonade and overpriced funnel cake just to ease my empty stomach; and then use disgusting bathrooms that seem to only be cleaned once a month, and for what? I have a boyfriend; I don’t need to pay for a thrill that only lasts 30 seconds. Well, at least, I did have a boyfriend. We broke up. Technically it was a mutual breakup, but we all know those don’t really exist and are only called that to save someone from embarrassment. I didn’t mind calling it that either considering we dated for two and a half years. Breaking up with him was probably one of the harder things I’ve had to do in my life, but he was pretty much asking for it. He was starting to become that Step Dad who marries your mom and thinks that automatically makes him your third parent. I’ll always love my ex, I just don’t know if it will ever work between us.
It was my first weekend without feeling obligated to hangout with my boyfriend and I finally didn’t feel any guilt about just hanging out with my friends. I texted my friend Sierra to see what everyone was up today and, of course, they were all going to this new theme park. I wasn’t going to spend my first single weekend cooped up inside while all my friends were probably having a good time. I texted Sierra back and told her I was in and that I needed something to get my mind off of my boyfriend. He was probably sitting at home crying that we ended things, and thinking about that could make a girl feel guilty which was not what I needed.
We got to the front entrance and were immediately waved on through to the park. No tickets. “Maybe this theme park will be different,” I hoped. Less than 10 minutes of going into the park and I realized that any hope I had for a cleaner bathroom was gone. My white shoes that I wore in, would definitely end up black by the time I walked out. Each step I took, I could feel the sole of my shoe sticking to the pavement from all the spilt drinks. If the sanitation was this poor in the most visible place of the park, I didn’t want to imagine what the bathrooms were like.
“Hey guys, look it’s a Polo Ralph Lauren Merry-Go-Round,” my friend Mikayla pointed out. “That would be so perfect for my Instagram’s aesthetic!” We all went over with our phones in hand, and cameras open, already thinking of the perfect caption to use that somehow would tie in the Merry-Go-Round with some Drake lyric about the squad.
“Hey bro, you made it!” Chandler said, handing me a bag of blue cotton candy.
“Yeah, some guy was giving me trouble at the gate about entering,” I said.
“Oh that’s Jeremy, he does that to everyone. Don’t worry about it. I get off in five minutes; I’ll show ya round a bit. Actually, fuck it. I get off now.” Chandler was never one to follow the rules. He took his apron off and we started walking deeper into the park. “Over here we have Pet-agonia, a Patagonia themed petting zoo. Over there is my personal favorite, The Corn Haze, where there is a strict no hazing policy,” Chandler shot me a wink. “Right here is one of our more popular attractions, Polo Ralph Lauren Merry-Go-Round where every horse looks exactly like the logo.” At that exact moment, there she was, riding the green horse. Her brunette hair glistened in the sun. Her blue eyes as penetrable as the sea is deep. Her strawberry lips resting below her button nose. She got off the horse and started walking my way. “Be cool,” I thought. Each step she took accentuated her long runner’s legs. She had the kind of hips that would’ve made Shakira’s fail a lie detector test. She walked right up to me. “Thought you didn’t care much for theme parks,” I said.