Sunday, April 30, 2006


Roll Up For The Mystery Tour, Part Three

Part One is here. Part Two is here.

The next morning, we had a dining experience that was a first for me. Kid S picked us up, and we went to a place called DZ Akins. First of all, the menu is huge. Going to this place made me realize how much I enjoy a good menu. So many choices. Choices of what? I’m glad you asked. DZ Akins is like a New York Deli that’s been transported to southern California. I’ve never been to New York, so I can’t tell you how close it is to the real thing, but it’s pretty dang good, even if they don’t have peanut butter omelets.

Do we even have real delis in California? The impression I’ve always had is that a deli is a sandwich place. I mean, you go to the counter in the supermarket where they sell all the sliced meats and cheeses for you to make sandwiches, and it’s often called the deli counter. So all my life, I’ve thought that delis are places like Subway or Togo’s. DZ Akins is a full service restaurant. I don’t know the exact name for what I had, but it was an omelet with meat and cheese, a heap of fried potatoes, and a bagel and cream cheese. A great breakfast that really got me fueled up for a long day at Sea World.

The first annoying thing about Sea World is the parking lot. As Kid S drove us in, it looked to me like we were waved past a ton of empty spaces and lots, directed by traffic cones, until we got to the lot we were allowed to park in. I’m not saying the parking lot we were stuck in was seriously degraded, but the asphalt pretty much looked like black spray paint on dirt. I thought they had waved us so far into the parking lot to get us closer to the gates. No. I think we were actually sent to the parking lot farthest away from the gates. We had to hurry, or else the water in the dolphin tank might have evaporated.

This whole time, it didn’t seem like there were very many people there. That all changed when we got to the gates. It was jammed. For the casual visitor, you have two options at the gate. You can wait on line while some slow attendant processes every knucklehead in front of you one. at. a. time. It’s almost painful. Or you can go on the Quick Ticket line. That line has a bunch of ATM-like machines, and you can just select the number of tickets and pay with a credit card, all without having to deal with an incompetent cashier. The problem with Quick Ticket is, like with any ATM, the line of average knuckleheads in front of you, all of whom you’re counting on to be better and faster than the cashier who does this all day. We split up. I took the standard line, and Miss Tori and Kid S took the Quick Ticket line. I think someone once said you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the people. Even standing in line can be fun, if there’s some sort of challenge to it. Who would get their tickets first? (Insert dramatic silent movie pipe organ music here).

They won. The average customer is more efficient than the average cashier at Sea World. Having said all that, even the Quick Ticket line took a long time. Turns out, for the same price as a one day ticket, you could get some sort of passport thing that would get you in the park again for free for the next month or whatever. All you have to do is enter all the same info that you put on the average mortgage application. No wonder it took so long. We don’t need the passport. We’re not going to drive nine hours each way just to go to Sea World for free sometime. But who can resist the idea of getting something for nothing? That’s why it took so long, even in the Quick Ticket line, but I did get a nice ticket with my name printed on it. Then we were off . . .

. . . to the next line. You know, the line with the turnstiles and such, where they actually scan the ticket. This is no ordinary line. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve had my hand scanned for security purposes. After the lousy parking lot and the long wait in the ticket line, here’s another line. They don’t help the effort with clear, well-written instructions either. Nor do they have any customer in mind who is taller than five foot nothing when they placed the machine. The icing on the cake is that the little outline painted there to show where your hand goes has been rubbed away to nothing by the grubby mitts of who knows how many scuzzy people. So I’m all ticked off already, frustrated by all the waiting, and now I’m jamming my hand in somewhere I can’t even see, prodded by the mumbled “Try again, sir” of the attendant. Did I mention that I had picked the wrong line again, and Miss Tori and Kid S were already through and waiting for me on the other side? Hella weak. I finally got through, boiling over with visceral hatred for all things Sea World-ish and vowing that as Poseidon is my witness, I will never visit Sea World again.

Which was kind of sucky for Miss Tori, who knows I can be moodier than a schizophrenic with PMS.* Would I be a grumpy, cry-baby, buzz kill all day? When I’m by myself, this doesn’t matter; I can just seethe and seethe and seethe. But I was actually with other people. As I’m so fond of pointing out to the idiots who get in my way all day every day, “Hello. You’re not alone in the universe. Other people exist.” Other people do exist, and it would be pretty crappy of me to be an all day complainer. That’s why I got this blog. What could cheer me up? Turns out, it was sea lions.

They let you feed them. More specific: they let you buy little paper plates with four or five anchovy type fish on them to throw to the sea lions. Ultimate specificity: It costs about a dollar an anchovy to be allowed to do something that, if they didn’t let you do it, Sea World would have to pay someone to do. I got two plates and joined Miss Tori and Kid S at the railing of the pool. You stand there and look down at them swimming or sunning themselves on rocks, and, frankly, begging like dogs under the Thanksgiving table.

They warn you to cover your plate of fish. They warn you every time you buy one. They warn every person who buys one. What are they warning about? Sea gulls! And when you look up, you might mistake Sea World for Universal Studios and think you’re on a set from The Birds. They’re all over, and they’re not above swooping on in and grabbing a fish off your plate, or even out of your hand, if you hold it in the air too long, trying to decide which sea lion you’re going to give it to. Looking back, it sort of reminded me of Letterman throwing fluorescent bulbs off a roof during a Five Story Drop bit, and acting like he was Zeus hurling lightning bolts at the puny humans below. Who shall I favor with my anchovy? Which pathetic sea lion will be the beneficiary of my godlike altruism? I spent ten dollars and now you beg for my goodwill! Ha Ha HAAAA! Like they cared. I mainly tried to throw to the ones who it seemed like other people were ignoring, or who were too far away for most people to throw to. I’m such a sucker, but I did enjoy the heck out of it and was all cheered up again. Even if a sea gull bounced off my head when he tried to come in on my last anchovy. He didn’t get it, and he didn’t crap on me either. I’ve been crapped on by a bird before though, so I can still tell you that it’s not that great. Unless . . . maybe he did crap on my head, and no one said anything because they were too polite, and I walked around with bird crap on my head all day! It’s . . . it’s too painful to think about. I just can’t go on right now. More Sea World next time.

*It took a couple of days for me to admit to Miss Tori that my real problem was that I was too stupid to figure out the hand scanner, and finally the guy behind me had to explain what I was supposed to do as if I was an ignorant child. So humiliating.
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