Just because I live in the South doesn’t mean the place is immune to cold weather, and it was that winter bone that chilled me a couple weeks ago. So I gave my dogs to my brother and gassed up the F-150 and headed to Orlando.
There was a time in my life when I was a rollercoaster aficionado, at least in as big a way as I could afford on my minimum wage job between stints of being kicked out of almost every SEC school that would accept me. This adventure mostly meant driving over to Six Flags in Atlanta and riding the herky-jerky Great American Scream Machine about 20 times in a day while pinching off my gullet, keeping down funnel cake as best I could over the dips and curves.
The whole city of Orlando these days is like a roller coaster ride jacked up on one of those five-hour energy drinks they sell near the cash register at all-night truck stops. Even the freeways down there feel like a roller coaster since all of those amusement parks attract an awful lot of people who are from other countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road and don’t understand the concept of turn signals.
I spent the better part of my life-savings on tickets to every one of those parks, but not before convincing a good friend of mine from one of those many colleges of my peripatetic past, Junie Cee, to go with me. I always loved a girl with two first names. I’ve always believed that parents who give their children two first names got in a fight right before delivery and to settle it they just took the easy way out. That’s my opinion. But remember, I have three first names, so I can bust on people like that.
We got to the first park and it was packed. Lines were 90 minutes long according to the red LED displays at the entrance to each one. And it was colder than a well digger’s butt in the Yukon. In Orlando? What the heck? I had to wear a coat normally reserved for deer hunting.
Junie Cee, who was once a cheerleader at Ole Miss and is partial to custom denim jeans and wrestling, decided to leave me waiting in line to ride a big green Hulk coaster and go shopping in Harry Potter World where I saw her three hours later, cussing and waving a $40 wizard wand at a large man she was having trouble with in line for a $6 cup of coffee.
Since she had not ridden any rides all day, I asked her what kind of ride would get her attention. She looked at me, her eyes wandered down to the MoonPie logo stitched into my coat, a special MoonPie hunting coat my Aunt Felma had made for me last Christmas.
“A MoonPie ride might interest me,” she said matter-of-factly since she says everything matter-of-factly.
“How would you see that working?” I said, a bit confused since most rides are based on some monster or movie or spine-altering metaphor.
“There’d be no line,” she said. “It would have seats like a King Ranch Cab with a good collection of Keith Urban music. They’d serve free drinks and any kind of MoonPie you want.”
“And what would be the purpose of the ride,” I asked.
“To take me over to one of those outlet malls and wait for me until I’m done shopping,” she said.
Then something caught her attention and she disappeared into a store that seemed to sell everything from jellybeans and surfboards to fudge and frozen yogurt.
I spent the next two hours waiting to feel like Spiderman flying through a whirling, metal contraption. In the back of my mind I knew that later I would become that MoonPie ride to the outlet mall minus the King Ranch cab and the Keith Urban music.