It's spring break, and there probably isn't much I could do to top last year's trip to Washington, D.C., my hometown, wherein we stayed at the Willard, and celebrated Easter with my fun cousins, and generally had a good time.
The daughter announced at some point prior to this break that I was the Worst Parent Ever because I'd never taken her to Universal Studios. Also, I don't take her to Disneyland nearly often enough. Nor have I taken her to Knott's Berry Farm (though her school has, frequently). I, in fact, don't take her anywhere. Ever.
(Obviously, we can discount that I have taken her to the whole of northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland and most of the United States. I also take her to the grocery store.)
Now, I've lived in So Cal for more than 25 years, and I'd never been to Universal Studios. Of course, I've been to more concerts than I can count at the amphitheater, and I've been to backstage parties at the amphitheater, but I've never been to the theme park. Actually, it's really never occurred to me to go there. Most of the rides are based on movies and TV shows, the majority of which I've not even seen (I'm the only person I know who slept through Jaws), and I worked on a studio backlot, so it's not like I don't know what a working studio looks like.
But I gave the daughter's Worst Parent Ever nomination some consideration, along with her movie-making aspirations, and Monday, I packed up the kids and took them to Universal Studios.
It was raining, of course. Most of the drive up there, it was pouring. This was actually a good thing because it increased the likelihood that we were the only ones stupid enough to be going to a theme park. In the rain. During spring break.
It was still raining when we got there, but it was just spitting by the time we got in the gate and got our "credentials." Then we sort of stood there, in the drizzle, because no one was quite sure what to do next. I knew that Universal had a few rides, but none of us knew where to start. The rain picked up a bit and I turned and pointed at something called the House of Horrors and said, "Let's go."
Well, it turned out to be an old fashioned dark walk-through, not so dissimilar from the haunted houses we used to go to on the boardwalk at Ocean City. The Wolfman jumped out of a dark shadow, the Mummy snorked at the daughter, who screamed, and Frankenstein banged on the walls in the lab. Very low tech, but funny nonetheless. Terrifying, according the daughter.
By the time we got out of the Terminator ride (boring, dated and way too loud), the sky had cleared, giving way to one of those crystal blue, perfect So Cal spring days. A chilly breeze was blowing, but the sun was warm and it was really clear, especially up high in the hills, with a view of the Valley below. The daughter was quite pleased to be at Universal, so much so that when we were on the Studio Tour, she waved with cheery abandon at Norman Bates, who appeared to menace the tram when it stopped at the Bates Motel.
By about 3 pm, everyone decided they'd had enough, and by 4 pm, we were checked into our rooms at the Hilton across the street. Admiring the view from the 21st floor, the daughter sighed with tremendous satisfaction.
So maybe I'm not quite the Worst Parent Ever.
(to be continued, maybe. Because there was more. Of course. And photos over on When All This Actual Life Played Out.)
Go listen to some good music: "Still in Hollywood" from the album Concrete Blonde by Concrete Blonde. Although I'd never been to the Universal theme park, our little jaunt was like time travel. Venturing back to Hollywood always is, a remembrance of times past, but not completely lost. Of course, other things are starting to happen, too. I still don't know what my summer looks like, but things are happening, some of them in a steam punky-looking sort of fashion.