How a sensible waterpark philosophy almost killed our marriage

Don’t get me wrong. I love family time, attending sporting events, and summer walks to the splash pad, but when it comes to certain activities there’s a switch that triggers in my head.

 

The opportunity to compete physically, for example. I also get crazy about vacations. Most especially during the lead-up. Christmas, a great book, and some weekends can all flip the switch. Monica knows the importance of keeping my building excitement in check for most of these types of activities.

 

“Hey, chill out…” Is really all I need to hear to detach from the situation, take a breath, and dial it down a notch or 2.

 

There was a time early in our relationship when that wasn’t always the case.

 

In those situations, excitement would build and I’d run at a red-line pace until the game ended, gathering dispersed, or until I crashed.

 

That’s all well and good but people obviously respond differently in different situations and not all parties attack waterparks, for example, with the same vigor. 

 

To the normal person, a day at the waterpark is an opportunity to relax, kick back, and let gravity carry them cheerily down a winding path until finally depositing them in a pool full of smiling peers. There’s an all-American lunch (probably burgers or pizza – who doesn’t love that), maybe a lounge chair in the afternoon, and ice cream. What could be better?

 

For me, there is an 8-10 hour window to maximize your ride time. This constitutes developing a game plan (scouting available rides via the park’s website), arriving early, executing the plan, and leaving when they kick you out.

 

A bit over the top??? That’s arguable. But I guarantee you no-one gets more out of a waterpark than I do.

 

This is a story about the time I realized getting the most out of a waterpark is less important than your new fiancee’s issues with dehydration and physical exhaustion.

 


 

The month was August, and I was ending a 6 week stretch of working in the Gulf of Mexico in response to the oil spill. We were putting in 60-80 hour weeks all over the southern coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle.

 

It was hectic, to say the least, and there were crews all over the area doing remediation, sampling, and other jobs in emergency response.

 

The long weeks led to a lack of sleep, poor fitness, and less than ideal nutrition, so I wanted to make the most of this 4-day vacation.

 

I flew Monica down and had it all planned out. A day trip to New Orleans, a night in Biloxi (to dabble in the gambling), two nights in Pensacola Beach (for the recharge), … All culminating in a day at the waterpark in Destin (Big Kahuna).

 

The vacation was shaping up as a great experience. We had both enjoyed ourselves in The Big Easy, Monica won a little cash in the casino, and 2 days at the beach were phenomenal. (Don’t worry about my performance in the casino… not relevant)

 

This brings us to the waterpark.

 

The day started with Monica’s excitement level matching mine. As a newly engaged couple, we took this opportunity to scout the website together, get a feel for the day’s possibilities, and then were standing happily in line 15 minutes before the park opened.

 

Still in the heart of the courting phase, I tried to ratchet it back a notch. No sprints from slide end back up to the top, stiff-arms to the younger park-goers were not a utilized tool, and we actually did pause for water and shade on 2 occasions.

 

Don’t get me wrong. We still got after it by hitting every ride at least once while some others saw a heavier dose of us. We were 2 young, healthy ‘adults’ living it up at the park. Aside from a minor wardrobe malfunction that required some readjustments, I was pleased with both the level of enjoyment and utilization of the park’s rides.

 

Let’s also not forget that this is Florida in August, and I had been down there close to 2 months while Monica flew in just 4 days before. And although I wasn’t exercising daily, I had logged more than a few miles on the trails.

 

It was my inability to recognize these points coupled with my ignorance to the color-change taking place on Monica’s face that led to my downfall…

 

At this point, we’re late in the afternoon and with minimal water for an individual not used to the environmental conditions, Monica was starting to crash. Yes, I was an idiot. Here’s how it went down:

 

We’re walking back up the main hill to the slides origin and I’m so full of glee that I don’t notice we’re no longer a hand-holding pair. We’re not even a pair at all. I’m walking up this hill by myself.

 

“Hold up. That’s not right,” I think to myself. So I stop, turn, and see the most adorable figure fighting with every once in her being to remain standing. Shoulders are beyond slumped, head drooped, and I may have caught the glimpse of a tear.

 

“Honey, what’s the matter?”

 

Monica was well aware of the continued courting and apparently didn’t want to show weakness or hinder what must have been presented as the highlight of our trip, at least by me. She hadn’t said a word about being thirsty, hungry, or tired. She just sucked it up and went forward. The woman deserves a medal.

 

“Do you think we could stop for a minute and get some ice cream?” It was a sound a justified suggestion. I didn’t recognize it as such.

 

“Monica, this park closes in an hour and we need to maximize our ride time.” This is the point she probably zoned out, slouched even further, and lost all hope. I continued, “…If we stop now, we probably won’t be able to get started back up.”

 

Satisfied with my reasoning, I turned and headed back to the hill’s summit. One problem: I heard no footsteps behind me.

 

After another three steps, a flurry of thoughts rushed through my head. “Woah! She’s obviously not feeling well here and needs to sit down for a minute. Maybe the work we’ve done over the last 6 hours should be sufficient? Explaining to my future father-in-law that his daughter was hospitalized for dehydration and exhaustion because I cared more about a good time at the waterpark than her health was surely not a positive for our relationship.”

 

A millisecond later, I readjusted my stance, realized what an idiot I was, and uttered the 2 words that saved our relationship:

 

“What flavor?”

 

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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!

 

– Mike
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