Monday, May 31, 2010

A slight identity crisis

After about 7months of being Blue’s mommy I did what I should have done about 7 months and two weeks earlier; I bought an “All You Need to Know Before You Buy a Husky” book. Mr. Big Prize can’t read, so it was left to me to do the educating for both of us. I suppose I should explain a bit further that last seemingly libelous statement about MBP. He can read; I’ve just never actually seen him do it. When we first met, and I expressed to him my love of literature, he gave me his best crooked smile and said “I can’t read”. Well, since he owns a company whose primary function is writing publicity materials, and he himself is head copywriter, I’m assuming he is actually capable of reading. He just abhors it. I blame it on his adult ADHD, and his refusal to seek medical treatment for it.
Therefore, I was left to do the Husky reading and research. We found ourselves trying ardently to parent a dog that seemed completely independent, bull headed, stubborn, and bothered by our existence. I’m convinced to this day that if Blue had been capable of opening the dog food bag on her own she’d have off’d us both and buried our stinking corpses in the back yard. This was not at all the snuggly, cuddly, anthropomorphic experience either of us had envisioned, and I needed to know if it was the breed to blame, or had we as dog parents done something horribly, terribly wrong.
So, into the book I dove, determined to find the answers. I was so anxious to see what this fount of knowledge had to share with me about our baby Bludie. I learned A) Husky’s are not an ideal dog for apartment living (no kidding..) B) They have an inherent and incurable urge to run (you don’t say) C) They are not affectionate by nature and do not bond readily with their owners (well thank God it wasn’t our fault) D) They can be extremely destructive if stressed (we’ll get to that later) and E) and adult female Husky should mature at around 45 pounds. WHAT??? Wait, let me read that again. An ADULT Husky female should mature at around 45 pounds. At the reading of those words my Bludie was 7 months old, and 50 pounds. According to our book she wouldn’t reach her full adult weight until a year of age, or even slightly after. At this point I can actually remember feeling faint. If she weighed this much at 7 months, how much was she going to weigh once she actually reached her full adult weight?? 105 pounds. Yep. 105. By the time she matured, my dog weighed only 5 pounds less than I did. I guess its good I got my bluff in on her pretty early.
But my question/concern when I ran in to share the dread news with Mr. Conveniently Illiterate in the other room was “how on earth is this happening?” Was there something terribly wrong with our dog? Some crazy thyroid condition? Some incurable elephantitis disorder? Contamination from a nuclear reactor? Mr. Big Prize looked confused with my concern. “But don’t you remember”, he said “her daddy weighed 120 pounds”. WHUUU??? No, I did not remember this. Her parents hadn’t been ‘on site’ as they say, so we saw neither daddy nor mommy dearest the day we took her home, so how on earth did he know that she was the spawn of some behemoth?? Well, gentle reader, unbeknownst to me, the owner of that now notorious Christmas tree farm had pulled MBP aside while I was incoherent from the stench of the place and had shown him a photo or two of Big Daddy. “Yeah, “ MBP said glibly “her daddy was a big boy. He had a bigger boxier head than she does and a longer snout, his coat was a little longer, and his eyes were brown, not blue, but he was GORGEOUS”. “HELLO” I screamed back “HUSKIES don’t weigh 120 pounds, have boxy heads or brown eyes. MALAMUTES do!!” And it was on that moment that we both realized why we had gotten our puppy for such a bottom basement price, why she’d come with out papers, and why those parents hadn’t been ‘on site’. We also realized why she just kept growing, and growing and growing. We were not the proud owners of the pure bred husky we thought we were, but the proud owners of a mutt- half Malamute, Half Husky. We had a Malamusky. Those suckers are huge.

A message from the emergency broadcast system

We interupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this message:
Go buy Dog House: A Love Story, by Carol Prisant. It's on sale now at fine retailers everywhere, and more than well worth your $22 investment. You'll laugh, cry, and possibly be motivated to start your own masterpiece...or at least on online diary of all your own doggie loves!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Let's just get one thing straight...

And so we wed. It was a blissful time, settling in to that home I had so carefully but inconspicuously planned. It takes some real skill to convince a single, non-cooking, dangerously heterosexual male that he really does prefer the porcelain covered cast iron sink to the stainless steel. Mr. Big Prize actually moved in, with that dog, on the first of July. They spent three heavenly weeks together in their new home, before I decided to intrude for eternity on their domestic bliss.
Once again (do you notice a theme here) had we taken the time to educate ourselves about the breed we would have known that Huskies are not only obstinate and belligerent, they can also be quite aggressive. They are ranked by insurance companies as one of the top five most dangerous dogs to own, followed by their relative, the Malamute. Again, more on that later. While we had no idea of their propensity for violence, we certainly were well aware of their bull-headedness. If Blue didn’t want to do something she simply didn’t, and if she did want to do something, she did. And she did or didn’t do so as she darn well pleased. She absolutely was NOT allowed on MBP’s bed, but each day he’d come home from work, and peak through the blinds to his bedroom, to see that stinky shedding mongrel stretched out completely unconscious on said bed. By the time his key was in the lock, and that lock turned, that dog would be sitting obediently on the tile foyer smiling her goofy smile at him as he pushed the door open. That dog was a veritable Blue-dini.
Another breed trait? Huskies are totally without that most adorable of canine attributes-the desire to please. So, early on, she and her daddy had to have more than a few come to Jesus meetings about her peculiar and often unacceptable behavior. In the days before the dog whisperer, Mr. Big Prize figured out on his very own the best way to deal with a dog such as this. One fine evening I arrived at his less than 1000 square foot apartment, slipped my newly minted shiny key into the lock, and walked in the door-to find MBP pinning that dog to the floor, his mouth on her neck, growling at her. Yes, I know. For a few fleeting seconds I considered turning and leaving and never ever ever coming back. But he saw me too soon. “She needs to know who’s boss”, he said, grinning at me with a literal mouth full of white fur. And she did. From that day forth the two of them had a relationship where MBP was truly the Alpha, and she never even considered questioning it again.
I, however, simply never had it in me to hold the dog down by my shiny white teeth and make guttural noises at her, so she and I slipped into what I considered to be a relationship of mutual respect. She seemed to do pretty much as I asked, and was never openly aggressive to me as I cuddled beside her daddy on the couch, or ate at the table with him, or gave him a kiss goodnight. She’d sit/shake/speak/lay down at my command. She never ever gave MBP kisses, but she developed a lifelong habit of acknowledging my presence by bestowing upon me ‘chin kisses’. She’d put that huge velvety muzzle of hers on my chin and give me two tiny licks, right on the bottom of the chin. So, obviously, she respected me as pack leader number two, right? Ha, wrong.
As previously mentioned, when I married I was a real estate agent, and as such, had very flexible office hours. The first day after we married I decided to stay ‘home’ and finish my unpacking, and basically revel in my newly achieved domestic bliss. MBP kissed my forehead, and cruised off in that tiny red convertible to his shiny office in the Big City. And it was just me, and that dog. The day started well enough. I let her out, I let her in. I fed her, walked her, and then proceeded to ignore her as I unpacked and arranged. I’d spent weeks collecting all manner of wonderful knick-knacks with which to fill our new home, and now was my chance to feed my decorating compulsion.
Then, it happened. I walked into the living room to find that dog spreading all of her then 50 pounds of hair covered girth on my new off white couch. “OFF!” I ordered. That dog didn’t even lift her shaggy head. “Blue, get DOWN. NOW”, I said, in a deeper, more authoritative voice. A deep sigh escaped her, and one ear might have twitched in my general direction, but nothing else. SO, not to be intimidated, I marched up and grabbed that dog by the collar and wretched her lazy butt off ‘my’ couch. HA! There, you mongrel, now we know who’s boss here. Yes, indeed she did. For the first time in our many years together I witnessed “crazy Blue”. That dog whirled on me, crouched with legs bent slightly and spread far apart. With ears pinned back, and tail tucked, she began to spin wildly, first clockwise, then counter clock wise. She’d stop periodically and observe me, ostensibly to see if I’d collapse into fits of hysteria yet. Nope, I stood firm. That dog does NOT belong on my couch. I glowered at her from my 5’6” height, hands on hips, legs spread in an authoritative stance.
So then, it really really happened. That dog whirled off to our bedroom, and jumped her furry self right on up onto our newly purchased queen bed, beautifully crafted from wrought iron and bearing an imposing canopy. She hopped herself right up onto my side of that bed, did a few more crazy Blue spins, then turned to look me dead in the eye, and peed on my pillow. Yep, smack in the middle. And not just a little piddle-no, a HUGE gallon of it, as only a 50 pound dog bladder can create. I guess I was wrong about that whole mutual respect thing. She let me know, quite clearly, that this was HER house, HER man, and HER bed, and I’d better be watching my back. I was all well and good as a mommy from afar, but was absolutely not welcome to stay and certainly not allowed to tell her what to do.
I guess I was just too stupid to know that she was in fact, big enough to rip my throat out, and considering her breed, more than capable of doing so. I was furious- and in my righteous indignation I marched all 110 pounds of me into that bedroom, grabbed up all 50 pounds of her, and tossed her sorry butt outside-where she stayed for the next 7 hours, 59 minutes, staring in the door. As I cleaned, as I cooked, and as I made it perfectly clear whose house this really was. I’d worked way too hard to get myself in there, and certainly wasn’t giving it up for some Christmas tree farm mutt.
After 7 hours and 59 minutes, and right before MBP rolled into our driveway, I let that dog back in. I gave her dinner, petted her fuzzy head, and told her to stay off the couch. She did as told, and she licked my chin. For the next 12 years she and I loved each other quite dearly, and sometimes, I even let her get up on the bed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

No Lifeguard on Duty; Swim At Your Own Risk

Spring melted into summer, and Mr. Big prize finally figured out he was gonna marry me. We discussed marriage in May, were officially engaged June 27th, and married July 20th- of the same summer. And before your nasty little minds start to speculate, we have no human children, so no, there was no reason for the rush except the fact that we couldn’t see any good reason why we shouldn’t just go ahead and get it done. We were two adults with careers and a new home to move into, so why delay it for the absurd reason of looking for a better wedding venue? But I digress.
There were a few odd weeks between when we decided to marry until we actually did. They were, as you can imagine, extraordinarily busy weeks, filled with wild wedding planning (I visited the cake boutique and the florist in the same day), a house to finish up, furniture to buy (because MBP was NOT bringing his man trash into my new house) and parties to attend. There was also his crying mother to contend with (you aren’t really going MARRY that girl, are you?), but those issues have long since resolved.
We were having a lovely time packing and planning, planning and packing. And all the while our ever growing baby lolled about the house watching it all take place. Blue was never an affectionate dog. Had we known anything at all about the breed we would have known that Huskies really could care less about the people in their lives. They have one purpose, one love, and one focus-running. You have no idea how many times that theme will show up in the Blue stories. They are stubborn, single minded and uninterested in their people. But we were interested in her. No, I take that back. I was interested, MBP was obsessed. There was a brief time when I was concerned that I might have made a HUGE strategic error with my whole grand evil plan. The whole purpose for getting the dog was to make me seem even more indispensable to MBP, but there were a few brief moments where I feared that stinky shedding beastie might actually just replace me entirely in his affections. Truth be told, I think I’ve been outranked on any number of occasions by certain canine loves of MBP, but he won’t admit it.
One afternoon we were packing up that beloved tiny apartment of his, and found ourselves tired and cranky and extraordinarily hot. We glanced over to where Blue was lolling, and saw that she too was panting hard from the heat. This is the part of the story where I tell you that dogs over 25 pounds were strictly forbidden in his upscale apartment complex, and that MBP had been sneaking his ever growing bundle in and out of his apartment for weeks. But hey, we both figured, he’s moving out, so why hide her anymore? More than that, it was hot and miserable, and we all needed a break. What better, we asked ourselves, than a dip in that cool crystal clear pool that was oh-so-conveniently located just steps from his sliding glass patio door? We’d be pool free too soon, so why not take a quick afternoon dip…with our overheated dog? This, as you can imagine, was extraordinarily against the rules.
The pool was surrounded by an iron fence, bars narrowly spaced. We figured we’d all be safe and sound inside those confines. We jumped into our suits, scooped up Blue, and shot out into the pool. Because of the proximity of his apartment to said pool, MBP didn’t bother bringing either shirt or shoes poolside. What’s the point, right? Well…
MBP lowered himself, and that dog, gingerly into the water, and I followed. She clung to him madly, pointed ears dropping to the far sides of her head like they did whenever she was stressed or extremely scared. Her paws, huge in relation to the rest of her, curled around his shoulders, and her neck stretched as high as it possibly could to keep her head out of water. MBP is 6’4” tall, and we were in the shallow end. She was in no danger. It’s possible that only the tip of her tail was actually in the water. Again, had we taken the time to educate ourselves at all about the breed we would have known that Huskies don’t just hate water, they loathe it. Dogs bred in the arctic for sled racing hate water? What??
Mr. Big Prize gently lowered his frenzied bundle into the water, turned in my direction, and let go. SHE SWAM! She swam beautifully and confidently, and right toward me-her MOMMY!! Then, she swan right past me, right on to the steps leading out of the pool. The minute her paws hit stairs she was running. Up the steps, across the sunning area, and right through those closely spaced iron bars she ran, at full out top Husky racing speed. She took off like there was a village in Alaska dying from the plague and she was carrying the cure. And there were MBP and I, slowed from exiting the pool by the pull of the water on legs, unable to stop what was happening.
Before I knew what was happening MBP had bolted from that pool, over those iron bars, and was running wet, shirtless and barefooted after that horrified wet dog. It was a long long footrace over sticker filled grass and gravel, her four legs to his two. He finally caught her, and was forced to carry the soggy thing all the way back to the apartment, while she quivered and clung, and I laughed.
It would not be the last time Mr. Big Prize was forced to run, nearly naked, after his first true doggie love.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Blue started growing rapidly, as did MBP’s love for the stinky blue-eyed beastie. If he made the 30 minute drive to my parent’s house to see me it was with that dog on his lap. This became an increasingly funny picture as Blue eventually reached her full 105 pound weight, especially since many of those trips were made in that shiny-tiny-red convertible.
But before she reached that full weight she was a roly-poly little bundle of eternally shedding energy (working dog, remember?)…an incredibly active but still not all that bright ball of energy. Even as a puppy she was weighty, gangly, and enthusiastic. If there was one thing that our Bludie was most enthusiastic about, it was running. We fought a life long battle against her urge to run. That is, after all, what Huskies are bred to do; run and run and run and run….and run. And for ‘our’ Husky, the only place she had to indulge that running urge was in my parent’s oversized back yard. Mr. Big Prize, after surviving another harrowing journey on the interstate with a Husky on his lap, would keep her leash bound into the house, but the minute she was at the back door she was off the leash and gone. She’d run like the proverbial bat out of hell, in no particular direction and for no discernable reason. She was just OFF and going, full force, full steam ahead, no holds barred. It was all well and good, until my mother decided she needed a screened-in back porch.
She and my father hired a fabulous contractor, and work began on a gorgeous spring day. For two weeks the contractor worked on roof and three screened walls, while mother and I patiently taped off a faux brick pattern on the concrete floor and stained it a very believable brick red. Then we painted the frame a wonderful forest green and stood back to admire our handiwork. Then Mr. Big Prize came to take it and all it’s meticulously executed beauty in. And of course, he brought that dog.
MBP has just opened the back door and released her from her leash when my mother, belatedly, realized what was about to happen. And it did, just like something out of a comedy. That roly-poly bundle of not so bright energy bounded down our three back steps and ran full force, full steam ahead, no holds barred-right through the bottom left panel of newly secured screen wall in my mothers newly constructed screened porch. And she never stopped running-that not so bright bundle of energy had no idea she’d just burst through $1500 and two weeks of work. And we all cracked up laughing. We laughed until tears streamed down our faces and our stomachs cramped. Even my mother, who is not usually known for having what one might call a ‘sense of humor’ when it comes to either money or her home, laughed and laughed and laughed. Blue was always good for a laugh.
But, gentle reader, this erstwhile tale does not end here. Mr. Big Prize felt duly miserable about it. This was still early enough in our courtship that he was feeling the need to impress the girlfriend’s parents, and his dog had just managed to create wreck and ruin in their home. So, the next Saturday MBP showed up with hammer, nails, and a roll of screen purchased at the local home supply store. I need to insert at this point that MBP is not what one might refer to as ‘handy’. His father isn’t handy, and therefore, no one ever taught him the tricks of the trade either. So, even the simplest of ‘handy’ tasks tend to take a bit longer for him. Not so much now, after 10 blissful years of owning a home rapidly approaching its 100th birthday, but then…OH YES. So, he spent his whole Saturday measuring and cutting, cutting and measuring, lather rinse repeat-you get the idea. But in the end, there in that bottom left panel of that porch was a newly stretched and secured screen. You couldn’t even tell it had been replaced, almost.
We all stood back and admired his handiwork. I glowed with some ‘I’m gonna marry him soon’ pride, my mother thanked him profusely, and my father managed not to tell him the 10 things he’d done wrong during the process. Then we opened the back door, and out ran Blue.
Right through the screen, again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

8 dogs, 14 years

I just finished reading the most wonderful book. My daddy bought it for me as an early birthday gift, and I sped through it in record time. I loved it so much, in fact, that I felt compelled to email the author and tell her just how much I loved it. I’ve never done that before. If she emails me back to give me a nice Southern “thank you very much” I’ll tell you the name of that book. She’s a Yankee, but she seemed nice enough in the book.
Her book was about her dogs over the years, their antics, their love and the unconditional happiness they bring, even when they are making you furious. So, I’m inspired today to write a little dog ‘book’ of my own right here on my blog. You all know I’m an animal lover, but I’m a card carrying Dog Person as well. I’ve decided that I’m going to write about each of the wonderful balls of fluff that have been part of my marriage. I will not write about the dogs I had as a child, because at the time my mother was not a Dog Person (she’s since reformed), and none of those stories end happily. So, I’ll just write about my little loves in fur since I married Mr. Big Prize. This is gonna have to be my first multi-part blog, because after 14 years of marriage and eight dogs, well, you just can’t say it quick.
My story really begins about 15 years ago, when I decided I really wanted to marry Mr. Big Prize. He was a Dog Person, though in his then 28 years of life he’d only had one-Friend, an ‘outside’ Cocker Spaniel that chocked to death on a chicken bone at some much too early age. But, despite that early tragedy, Mr. Big Prize was a dog lover. He had a breed all picked out-Border Collie- and a name ready to go –Blue. He even had a little magazine cut-out taped to his refrigerator door of just that sort of dog. Sitting obediently, blue eyes looking expectantly at some off camera master, yep, that was the Blue Mr. Big Prize wanted. But, from the very beginning of our courtship I’d pretty much been able to convince him that he needed whatever I thought he needed…whether I was right or not. So, I decided that even though he was then living in a less than 1000 square foot apartment, he needed a dog. But even I, dog behavior novice that I was, knew that a Border Collie was working dog, and those can’t be kept in a less than 1000 square foot apartment. But Mr. Big Prize loved those big blue eyes, so I found another dog with equally big, equally blue, eyes. The Husky. Yes, you may now laugh. If there is any dog on the planet LESS suited to a less than 1000 square foot apartment than the Border Collie, it’s the Husky. But, I was determined, and for those who know me, that’s a dangerous state for me to be in.
I found a copy of the Sunday paper, and a listing for a breeder only 20 minutes away who was advertising Husky pups for a low low $85.00. So, out we went, to buy ‘our’ first dog. Now, let me back-track a bit, back to that part about wanting to marry Mr. Big Prize. MBP claimed that he wanted to get married, and that he wanted that real bad. Both being of the Southern and Christian persuasions, and both being children of ministers of the latter, we weren’t the ‘moving in together’ types. Sadly, I found MBP to be a bit slow in the proposing department, and I devised a plan to speed things up a bit. It was two fold; A) get him out of that less than 1000 square foot apartment and into a bright shiny newly built home of his very own, and B) Get him a dog-one that thought of me as ‘mommy’. As a realtor at the time I had him building that house in no time flat, and I was picking out the paint colors. And so that is how/why, on that Sunday afternoon we found ourselves driving his bright red convertible to a Christmas tree farm to pick out a bright shiny new puppy too.
Blue was neither bright, nor was she shiny. That Christmas tree farm was filthy, inside and out, and the wooden deck we were shown to was covered in such layers of filth as it is impossible to describe. There they were-two little adorable wolf faced pups, but with those glowing blue eyes. One was silver, the other red. We scooped up that little silver darling, and trotted her out of that filth for a negotiated $65.00. Note: this was the first time I had seen what I now know to be MBP most embarrassing habit-dickering. But we got our ‘new baby’ for $20 off her suggested retail price, and off we went.
On the way home, in that tiny red convertible, in a pouring rainstorm, the newly Christened Blue started putting a powerful wail…and an even more powerful stink.
That dog smelled worse than anything I have ever smelled, before or since. And it didn’t go away. We got her home and dunked her immediately in bubble bath, certain her aroma was merely the effect of the squalor in which she’d been living. But no, that wasn’t it… precisely. Our beloved baby Blue had, we discovered after her cleaning, two open wounds on her rumpus. I’ll spare you the details, but those were the source of the stink. It took months to clear up those spots, and months more to clear the miasma they’d left out of that less than 1000 square foot apartment. It did, however, forcibly cement me as ‘mommy’.
Much much more to come...

Monday, May 24, 2010

My little piece of Paradise

We stumbled upon it completely by accident. We married in July, but waited to take our honeymoon until September. It was a lovely time of year, and we decided that Disney World might just be the most magical place of all to spend it. We also decided that to get there we might just drive along the coast to take in the view of the ocean as long as we possibly could. What we did not take into consideration was the extreme rural nature of some parts of Northwest Florida, and just how dark it can get in said areas. The sun set, and suddenly we were cruising down a very long and very dark stretch of two lane highway. Seriously, it was the kind of dark from which one would expect Bigfoot to emerge. It seemed like we drove for hours, and then suddenly from nowhere (literally) we found ourselves at the end of the road-and not in a metaphorical sense. We were literally at the end of the road. We found ourselves looking at a picturesque fishing village, and the most beautiful harbor I'd ever seen. To the left there was a bridge that seemed to curl into nothing, but which actually was the gateway to my paradise. For the last 12 years Mr. Big Prize and I have taken between two and three weeks of our year and spent them in our little chunk of heaven. The town itself is close to 200 years old, and it's ancient buildings are now filled with quaint boutiques whose owners love tourist dollars but resent the tourist themselves. Men who fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers made their living from the sea wake every morning with the dawn to gather oysters from the brackish waters of the bay. Our friend Captain Jack (yes, his name really is Jack and he really is a Captain) takes us on upriver trips to spot exotic birds and American Alligators.
Across that curling bridge is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, completely devoid of high rises and drunk college students. On any given day one can spend hours relaxing on the white sands and watch the dolphins play in the surf just a few yards off the beach. Every morning the sands are littered with hundreds of exotic seashells, many of which have found there way into my home. Sea turtles have been coming to my paradise to nest for hundreds of years, and when we rise early and are lucky, we can see a "drag" where a mother turtle has lumbered onto shore to deposit her precious and endangered cargo. It really is pristine, and heavenly, and now it's in danger, and I'm livid.
Yes, I'm livid. I'm livid British Petroleum for creating a horrific situation which now puts all of that perfection in jeopardy. I'm livid at our government for allowing big oil and the big money that accompanies it to be the real power in our country. I'm livid that millions of gallons of death are pouring into the gulf on a daily basis, and no one seems to be able to stop it. And I'm livid at myself. I'm livid that for years I've talked big about alternative oils and demanding change, yet have done nothing and said nothing and expected nothing. I'm livid that men like Captain Jack, and those hardworking oystermen may now lose everything, because there is murky threat creeping toward them and there is nothing that they can do to stop it.
I just got back from my paradise, and while it remains all it has ever been I couldn't help but wonder if it was the last time I'd ever see it in that pristine state. Would those dolphin calves swimming in the surf survive the imminent threat? We didn't see any turtle drags this trip, but on our last day there a dead sea turtle washed up onshore. She was relatively young, and was perhaps returning to her home shore to make her first nest, but instead, something ended that journey too soon. Was it the oil seeping into her home, or perhaps some other man made enemy that took her life? We'll never know, and we can't save her, but we can make changes that will save the lives of the incredible and diverse life in the oceans of our world. But we have to make the changes to make that a reality. I'd say saving paradise is worth it, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I hate rollercoasters

There are very few things in life I don't like, and even fewer that I really really hate. That being established let it be known far and wide that I hate roller coasters. I mean I really REALLY hate them. Like so many of our human idiosyncrasies, this particular issue began in childhood. At some point very early on, and by early I mean before “your child must be this tall to ride” became law, my parents put me on a roller coaster. Even though I couldn't possibly have been more than four years old I remember the event clearly. The place was Six Flags over Texas, the offender, The Runaway Mine Train. Now, you need to know that my parents are both possessors of above average intelligence. These are people who can put together complex electronics with ease, build random things from absolutely nothing (be it in the garage or kitchen), and solve complex problems of multiple varieties. SO, it would stand to reason that these are the kind of people who would be able to add A and B together to know that something with the words "runaway" and "mine train" in the title ought not to be ridden by a four year old. Sadly, neither of these people of above average intelligence put this correlation together...and that four year old ended up on that mine train. I have very clear memories of that ride, because it apparently lasted a lifetime. I remember being jostled and bumped and slung about until I was fairly sure that my brain was left somewhere below the second drop. The ONLY thing that kept me alive through the thing was being sandwiched between two people that loved me, and who I knew would keep me safe. Once that ride was over I swore I would never ever again get on a roller coaster. This pledge lasted firmly through my adolescent years, where even the taunts of my peers couldn't tempt me on board. There was no “Laine is a chiiiicken” strong enough to budge me. I was lily-livered and proud! Wooden coasters, looping coasters, shooting coasters, coasters of any kind were RIGHT OUT. This eventually extended to thrill rides of any kind, and I lived in a state of blissful thrill ride ignorance.
Then, the odd and unusual happened. My father turned 50. I realize that in and of itself the turning of 50 by ones father is neither that odd nor that unusual. Rather, it was what he decided he enjoyed at 50 that struck my with its oddity-thrill rides! My father hadn't been a thrill rider his entire life. He swore he hated and loathed them-then, he rode one. It was actually Disney's Tower of Terror that broke the proverbial thrill ride ice. Then, it just spiraled right out of control. It was this coaster-thingy, and that twister-thingy, and this falling/screaming/think you’re dying thingy. It was INSANITY! This was apparently his version of a mid-life crisis, but it got me thinking; did I really hate coasters, or had I let one bad experience on one coaster mold my attitude about a whole industry that was really quite grand.
So, on a trip to Disney World in the summer of 2005 I put myself right back on that horse, or roller coaster, as it were. My coaster of choice? Big Thunder Mountain. I stood and watched it for quite some time, and convinced myself it wasn't that bad, and was certain that if all those 5 and 6 year olds were laughing and having fun SURELY I would too! So, I stood in line and hopped on board. All aboard!!!! GET ME OFF THIS THING...NOW!!!! That was all I could think for the 180 seconds of pure hell I endured on that machine of death. I was slung, crushed, thrown and tossed about at random. This is NOT my idea of fun!! Again, the only way I survived that ride of death was knowing my big hubby who loves me was sitting next to me, and wouldn’t let me be flung to my death. So, it’s sealed; I HATE roller coasters. Hated them at four, hate them now. I even married a man who hates roller coasters so I wouldn't have spousal pressure to contend with until death-do-us-part.
My life has been a roller coaster for the last two weeks. The ups and downs have been unbelievable and equally enjoyable as those on that long ago mine train. I have been flung, shaken, rattled and dropped. The only conciliation is that I’ve been on it with people who love me, and I know I’ll get off this puppy eventually!