My parents, my sister Foo-Dog, and her two boys, the Heathenish and the Hellion, recently visited an amusement park.
Preceding the trip, Grampy Grumpy measured the Hellion's height on a near-daily basis. After years of being shuttled off to kiddie land with Grandmama, he was determined to go on the "big boy" rides like his older brother.
The only problem? He was too short by half an inch.
"We'll put socks in his shoes," Grandmama told me.
"Socks in his shoes?" I asked. "Doesn't he wear socks ordinarily? And isn't doing a run-around on the height requirements dangerous?"
I am not a fan of any ride that moves at more than the most sedate of paces, so I couldn't understand his desire to be dropped, twirled and flipped. On last year's trip to Kennywood, I rode the carousel no less than five times. It's the perfect ride, because you can nap on it.
"He's almost there," Grampy said. "He just needs a little more."
Grampy is a fan of roller coasters, and the Heathenish is his coaster buddy. I think the Hellion was jealous, and I know Grampy was eager to introduce him to the "thrill" of being dropped hundreds of feet at high speeds while praying the engineer who designed the ride had been paying attention to what he was doing.
"We'll put an extra pair of socks on him," Grandmama explained.
"Those will have to be an extra-thick pair of socks to give him half an inch." I was dubious.
Grampy Grumpy got the tape measure out. "Let's measure him again."
"Foo-Dog cut his hair again," I observed. "If she'd waited until after the trip, you could have spiked it with gel and given him another quarter inch."
Foo-Dog addresses the boys' haircuts like she does everything else - the shortest, most efficient route possible. So the poor kids get their heads buzzed monthly. The Hellion doesn't appreciate this and tries to bite her whenever the trimmer come out. (I'm Team Hellion in this struggle.)
The Hellion strained to stand as straight as he could, and Grampy measured him.
"He's maybe a quarter-inch too short," Grampy said.
"See, Foo should have left his hair alone until afterward," I said. "No way he grows a quarter-inch in less than a week."
"The socks will do it," Grandmama said.
I was doubtful and foresaw kiddie land in Hellion's future. I said as much and was pooh-poohed by Grampy and Grandmama both.
On returning, Grandmama called me to let me know how it went.
"Did he get to ride the rollercoasters?" I asked.
She started laughing. "Yes, he did. He rode a little wooden one first, and that went OK, so he wanted to ride the big one with Grampy."
"It was OK until they got to the drop."
"Of course it was."
"Your brother went with them, and he said Hellion was screaming 'let me off' so loudly that everyone turned to look.
He thought they would stop the ride and let him off."
"Well, at least it was only the one."
"Well, no ... that was the little drop before the big drop."
"Afterward, I took him to ride the kiddie land coaster."
Did I call it or did I call it?
(Wallace-Minger, a resident of Weirton, is community editor of The Weirton Daily Times.)