I am not a fan of amusement park rides. I don't like being thrown from side to side, hurled up into the air, spun around or dropped abruptly from hundreds of feet in the air. I suspect those of you who do enjoy such things of either being mentally deficient in some capacity or gluttons for punishment.
So you can imagine my joy when it was proposed we visit Dollywood on our vacation. However, since the Long Suffering Husband and children adore amusement park rides, I steeled myself.
Dollywood happens to have some good shopping, but the LSH was very firm about keeping the wallet shut tight, being of the opinion I was not in need of a blown-glass Christmas ornament (the children have a record of breaking at least one glass ornament a year), an imported Irish brooch (I don't wear brooches and pleas that it included Irish symbology prompted the retort that I am not Irish) or a five-foot-tall, hand-smithed wind chime that sounded like church bells (he's not paying $350 for a wind chime).
Dollywood also has some very good live shows, but none of the heathens in my family wanted to listen to gospel, no matter how tight the harmony. Besides, if I stuck with them, they had even numbers for seating in the roller coasters. Yay. Just what I wanted, after swallowing my body weight in grits and fried chicken at Auntie Granny's All-You-Can-Eat You-Can't-Get-Any-More-Deep-Fried Southern-Style Foodatorium.
The one show I was bound and determined to see was the American Eagle Foundation's Wings of America birds of prey show. They had Bald Eagles. The eagles reminded me of my dad, Grampy Grumpy, because they looked perpetually irritated and, in general, not like someone you wanted to get into an argument with. I felt an inexplicable fondness for them.
Mostly, however, I wanted to give a dollar to the African Pied Crow, Tuck, who would then deposit my bill into the donation box.
"I don't care what else we do, I just want 30 minutes for the birds," I told the LSH.
I was promised this would happen, but, being it was what I wanted to do, we didn't get around to it until the last showtime on the last day we were there. Typical.
Hustling across the park in 98 degree heat to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend, I could see, after a day of riding stomach-turning rides, the children were drooping. I took pity.
"Why don't you get them some lemonade while I find seats?" I suggested to the LSH.
For half an hour, I enjoyed myself. Then the show came to an end.
"Honey, can I have a dollar for the crow?" I asked.
"I don't have a dollar."
" ... what do you have?"
"A hundred, three twenties and a ten."
"Give me the ten, then!"
"I am not giving you a $10 so the bird can put it in the box."
"It's the only thing I wanted to do! And if you donate $5 or more, you get a bumper sticker!"
I turned to my brother and poked him. (If I was going to be treated like a child and not allowed to spend any money, I might as well act like one.) "Do you have a dollar?"
"No." (My brother is very laconic.)
I turned back to the LSH. "I can't believe this! I told you this was the only thing I wanted to do! You didn't remember?"
"You should have reminded me."
"Give me the $10. It's a donation to a worthy cause. Don't be stingy."
"You should've reminded me. I did have ones."
"Well, what did you spend them on?"
(I'd tell you this was the last column I will write about our vacation, but you never know, I might get desperate for column fodder some time in the near future. Of course, I'll be visiting the Washington County Fair this week and will likely do or say something to reveal my utter ignorance of all things farming, so you never know. Also, just want to say a quick "hi!" to long-time reader Maryann Tassey!)
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)