By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
That sounded good to me.
"Besides," he continued, "pretty much the big danger here is a fecal accident."
The first thing to catch your attention as you make your way down Raging Waters Drive toward the promise and threat of Raging Waters is a hapless reservoir that a stone could get maybe five skips on before reaching the other side. But that wasn't stopping about 30 boaters from looping around in tight circles with skiers attached. Damn, I thought, these people are desperate for water.
"That'll be $6," said the attendant when we pulled up to the outer reaches of the parking area. "Have a raging day."
"Have a raging day," said the shuttle bus driver as rear ends the size of cannons waddled out ahead of us.
"Have a raging day," said the cashier as she returned $1.02 from the $45 I handed her to gain admission for two.
"That'll be $6," said the locker girl. "Yours is locker 867, underneath the cotton-candy sign. Have a raging day!"
As you walk into Raging Waters on a Saturday with the temperature in the Hades zone, it becomes immediately clear that you aren't going to walk around Raging Waters. You are going to dodge. Dodge inner tubes. Dodge knee-high kids with haircuts they must have done something awful to deserve. Dodge the cigarette-huffing mothers chasing after them and then the packs of boys and girls chasing each other. In comparison to the walkways, the water, where the milling mass of humanity is somewhat contained, almost looks inviting.
Another quick revelation is that the parkgoers can be easily divided between the smart ones and the dumb ones. The smart ones are the ones wearing water slippers. You notice they are smart and you are dumb as soon as you find yourself actively seeking out stagnant walkway puddles to keep your feet from fusing to the cement.
After the initial shock of just being there wore off, Kelly and I stepped out of a puddle and headed for a children's play area with gentle slides, jungle gyms, shallow water and laughing rug rats. I decided one of the kiddie slides would make for a friendly initiation into the Raging Waters. As soon as I splashed down, though, my body recoiled in horror. Had I forgotten everything I learned? The kiddie area is perhaps the most fecally suspect part of the entire park! Luckily, or so I thought at the time, there was a spot in the kiddie area where you could pull a rope and unleash a shower of water on top of you. I stood there pulling and rinsing, pulling and rinsing.
"What are you doing?" Kelly asked.
"I'm rinsing myself off."
"Where do you think that water is coming from?"
She had a point.
We hotfooted it over to Thunder Rapids, where the long, shady line looked like a safe haven. Boy, was I wrong. As the waves of humanity inched forward and the nature of Thunder Rapids became more clear, I started to panic. Not only were we going to be sent down a twisting, churning watery chute, but we were going to be forced to share a raft with several random denizens of the park.
I looked around my immediate vicinity at the likely candidates. I'm not sure anything would have been acceptable at this point, but I'm not exaggerating when I say the prospects were grim. It was like a Jerry a Springer picnic. Buzz-cut blond dudes with bad White Pride tattoos. Black girls with too many rolls of fat seeking shelter under too little clothing. Prepubescent boys with girlie nipples. Chests with too little hair. Backs with too much. Bad teeth. Pimply skin. Thin upper bodies on top of fat lower bodies. And vice versa. Everything was just a little off, and I was afraid it was catching. All I could think, God help me, was that if everyone was beautiful like me, I'd be okay with this.
I tried to find a way out, but we were hemmed in by the mass of humanity. I would have climbed the fence around the park, but it was topped with barbed wire. There was no escape. At the moment of my greatest despair, a man emerged from behind a gate. He was wearing an official-looking outfit. Behind the gate were huge vats of what I assumed to be the chemicals that held the key to my fate.
"Everything okay?" I asked the guy.
"Yeah, everything's okay," he said, surprised at the question.
"No fecal accidents?"
"No, no fecal accidents," he said, closing the gate and scurrying off, not want-ing to continue the conversation.
We moved closer to the point of embarking. Who would it be? Who were we going to be forced to absorb?
Just then, one of the lifeguards, the only other people within the park who seemed to have cracked the genetic code, called out for a party of less than three. I raised my hand and grabbed Kelly's and raised hers, too.
"Here, here!" I shouted. And like that we were brought to the front of the line and placed in a raft with a fine-looking fellow and his two healthy, but scared, young daughters.