Just when I thought the Chimes was going to post my story about dancing at Biola, they went ahead and posted one completely different. I should've known they would've given me the old reach-around, or as my friend Tim liked to say "sneak a banana in my ear," but I guess there's always next week. Here's the new article.
Life and Death At The Happiest Place On Earth
By Zach Newcott
All those college educated fat cats may tell you the importance of proper “theology” in this world, but those of us living on the mean streets of Huntington Beach know that death is all around you. Just like Shake and Bake, it’s on everything, and if it’s not, it should be. No, I didn’t learn this from one of your fancy pants three-unit courses, I learned this from watching “Final Destination” one through three back-to-back. Now I know. I could be walking down the street one day and then BAM! A large piece of safety glass will fall from a construction site right on top of me and cause my body to literally explode. It’s a sick world we’re living in.
Naturally, when I offered to take my girlfriend to Disneyland, the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth,” I made sure to remind her that nine people have all died from their visits to that death trap, not to mention the countless others I’m sure Walt Disney has silenced from beyond the grave. Still, she was adamant about the whole idea.
I reminded her of my days serving as a Skipper on the Jungle Cruise attraction in the park.
“I saw a lot of good men lost in that Jungle,” I told her. “You have no idea how many hippos I had to scare off. My buddy Joe once tumbled into the water late one night when he was tethering a ship to the dock.”
I paused to rest my fist against a window sill. “He had to get a tetanus shot for that. Do you want to get a tetanus shot? I don’t think you do. Those needles are huge …”
She ignored my warnings.
The next day we entered the park after navigating the back alleys of Downtown Disney. After fending off an onslaught of giant cartoon character mascots, we made our way toward the Matterhorn.
“This looks like fun!” she told me.
“It probably looked like fun to Dolly Young too,” I reminded her, “Before she was thrown from the bobsled on to the track. They say she was still alive when she hit the ground, until the car behind her crushed her body upon impact.”
She looked at me with an expression of confusion and disgust.
“Some cast members say they can still hear her scream at night,” I continued.
My story was met with little acknowledgment.
We went on It’s A Small World next. After traveling in a hardly sea-worthy vessel, past miniature versions of cultures across the globe (ones which probably condone cannibalism, no doubt), we spent a minute admiring the view at the Rivers of America surrounding Tom Sawyer’s Island. While we watched, the sailing ship “Columbia” made its rounds along the smooth water.
“What a beautiful day,” she told me.
I gave a grim nod. “I’m sure it was a beautiful day too when the metal cleat of the “Colombia” snapped and …”
She stopped me mid-sentence to interject, “Didn’t your mother tell you to stop Googling ‘Disneyland Deaths’?”
She did, but how could curiosity not get the best of me? The Internet was practically invented for the sake of spreading paranoia and grisly details concerning gruesome acts at seemingly innocent places. Even so, it was impossible to look around me and not notice the look of happiness on every child connected to his or her parent’s leash.
“You can’t worry so much,” my girlfriend told me.
She was right. Death might be scary, or undeniably entertaining when it involves explosions, but that doesn’t mean it has to govern our lives. With that realization, we decided to get some ice cream. Which, I should point out, might have salmonella if it’s homemade. Then again, maybe some things are worth the risk.