Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Dorkiest Day of My Life

I have never been “cool.” In fact, I have no idea if it’s even “cool” to use the word “cool” anymore. For awhile during my high school years I tried to embrace this fact but I went too far the other direction, trying too hard to be counterculture that it just looked sad – you know, sort of how hipsters look now. Until, finally, I just learned to be “me,” who, it turns out, is a gal who rocks a lot of t-shirts from the college she hasn’t attended since the 90s, still thinks boot cut jeans are perfectly acceptable, wears the same sneakers she’s been wearing since age 12, and continues to listen to grunge on the radio while acting confused when they refer to it as “Friday flashbacks” or “old school hits” because, wait, isn’t this still what everyone is into? Explain to me again who Devi Lovato is? Wait, never mind, I don’t really care and I’m not going to remember.

Not that I don’t occasionally buy into something that’s trendy … or read the “it” book of the summer. I do. But only if it sounds appealing to me. And it’s very freeing to just feel comfortable with not pretending for everyone else’s sake.

But, as you can likely imagine, my life has been filled with many a geek out moment. Many times where I have been “outed” for the lame person I really am. And while many people turn beet red or look down or embarrassedly apologize for these moments I am not one of them. Perhaps the sheer volume of embarrassing situations I’ve been in have made me immune … or I was born with some gene that made me just more naturally inclined to roll with anything humiliating that happens … but, in any case, I’m the type of person who not only accepts this dorkiness, I embrace it. And, furthermore, I not only admit to it, I go one step further I call attention to it. I shout it from the rooftops in fact. And then I tell all of you about it on my blog.

And so here it is – the dorkiest day of my (adult) life: February 15, 2009

I had spent the evening prior to this – Valentine’s Day – at the county fair with my friends. We rode the rickety Ferris Wheel, ate deep friend Twinkies and I won (and by “I” what I really mean is that I got my friend who’s better than me at carnival games to win for me) a stuffed koala for GAR, who I was not yet dating “officially,” to help cheer him up since he was bedridden after throwing out his back at the gym. But, in reality, I got him the koala so that he’d still like me the next day because I already knew – KNEW – that the dorkiest day of my life was just about to happen – after all, my friend Wizard had been planning it for months – and I wasn’t sure how GAR was going to respond to the major geekfest that is my life.

On the morning of Feb. 15, three friends and I set off on adventure. The goal was easily stated but not so easily accomplished – visit all 7 Orlando theme parks in one day. No, not just “visit,” also ride one roller coaster at each park and (though this last bit was perhaps just my own personal addition to the challenge) consume at least one food or beverage item at each park. And while the four of us were all geeky enough to be excited about our planned expedition, we also understood the immense dorkiness that comes along with planning such a feat. Thus our emotions were strained somewhere between secretly knowing that what we were doing was totally awesome, but hiding that feeling of glee deep down inside so that the rest of the world would not expose us for being complete and utter losers.

And thusly we began our quest with coffee and Dueling Dragons (now known as Dragon Challenge, which is part of the new Harry Potter World – a geek lovers paradise to be sure) at Universal’s Islands of Adventure park.

Before making a jaunt next door to the original Universal Studios park to ride the Mummy and enjoy lunch at the park’s Irish pub.

Next up was SeaWorld, where we tamed the Kraken and cooled off with some drinks.

Then the Disney leg of the trip kicked off, starting with Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We were supposed to climb to the top of Everest, but this is where we suffered our first “setback.” The one and only coaster at this park had an incredibly long wait, something we had feared might happen due to the fact that we were visiting during President’s Day Weekend. While the holiday had caused Disney to adjust park operating hours, keeping the parks open much later than usual and, therefore, making our ambitious endeavor possible in the first place, it also meant that we were facing some crowd control issues. With three parks yet to complete after this one we knew we’d have to alter our course and instead headed for an attraction that could still have been categorized as “thrilling” (to some), even if it wasn’t a coaster – Dinosaur. The wait here was also long but we secured FastPass tickets, played some more carnivaal games for some reason, sucked down some frozen Yak Attacks, and then let the ride shake us all about while we tried not to throw it all back up.

But it was lots of fun. We were all laughing and smiling and joking about what good times these were.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or was it still Disney-MGM Studios at that time, I’ve forgotten) we were supposed to Rock and Roll with Aerosmith but, once again, faced long lines and had to improvise.

Instead we got more FastPasses, this time for Star Tours (Star Wars come to life! Another geek dream). We enjoyed a greasy pizza dinner before hopping onboard.

Darkness was looming as we made it to Epcot and that’s when it happened – we ran into someone Wizard knows. And we were cutting time too short to stop and chat. So, rather than be rude, Wizard quickly told him what we were doing … that we were on park #6 out of 7 … and that we didn’t have time to delay. And suddenly the weight of our ridiculousness hit us like a ton of bricks. We were exposed, and now we felt silly – especially since Epcot doesn’t even have a roller coaster … so we had to ride the Maelstrom instead, a ride that is not even remotely “thrilling” other than some trolls threaten to throw you (back, back) backwards over some waterfalls. And it was a little deflating. I could barely suffer through my margarita (and no one else even drank anything at all).

We were running out of steam as we boarded the monorail for our last stop – the Magic Kingdom. But, seeing our final destination in sight, we rallied and prepared ourselves for victory.

Upon entering this happy place we were greeted with fireworks. We stopped. We watched. We danced dorkily while old ladies cursed us for stepping on their toes.

And we once again embraced our adventure, suiting up with cheesy matching buttons that declared to the world that we had made it to 7 parks in 1 day. But it was late and our mission was not yet accomplished. And, worse yet, we hit another snag at Space Mountain … and Splash Mountain … and Big Thunder Mountain – more long waits. But this time we did have another coaster to chose from – The Barnstormer (now relocated to New Fantasyland, another place that will no doubt become a paradise for dorky women who, despite being far too old for this sort of thing, will dress themselves in full blown princess ensembles and line up to meet Ariel). Granted it’s technically a “kiddie coaster,” but it’s a coaster nonetheless. And, at long last, geeky victory was ours!

We even had leftover time for an additional ride here - Pirates of the Caribbean.

And I scarfed down a Dole Whip I didn’t even want just to complete that part of the challenge too. But it was totally worth it – we had conquered 7 parks in 1 day. And on the boat ride back to our car we reminisced about what a great time we had and how we should do it every year!

False promises that of course we didn’t keep because, while we may be dorks, we do have a life, and this bout of geekdom was more of one-time thing … an alignment of the stars when we all happened to have easy, free access to each of these theme parks that now is no longer possible without shelling out big bucks for tickets. No, this moment of geeked out glory was meant to be just that – a single moment in time to look back upon and smile (but not too much lest anyone actually call us out on what lame people we are).

Just a few days later I went out on my first date with GAR (well actually it was our fourth date, but since it had been more than a year since our third date I guess you could call it our second first date) to see a local production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Then two days later he took me to see “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and I knew, right then and there, that I never really needed to worry about what a dork I am for clearly, I had found an equally geeky mate.

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