How many of you can say that you've lost your parents? I was about 15 when I lost mine... It happened on a sunny day at Cedar Point.
Now before some of you get all teary eyed, let me explain. Some of you may be thinking that I "lost" my parents because they died a tragic death riding the bumper cars, or they fell out of that freaky pirate boat ride that swings past vertical. When I say "lost", I mean missing, misplaced, whereabouts unknown. This isn't like misplacing your car keys and finding them in the fridge behind the gallon of milk. I lost my parents in a 364 acre theme park at the age of 15 while acting as guardian for my then 11 year old little sister.
I had to clarify my age with my Mom just now on the phone, and so I also asked her why they allowed their 15 and 11 year old daughters to gallivant around Cedar Point unattended by mature, responsible adults. Her explanation? We begged. Considering that my sister and I were, and still are, Daddy's girls, I'm not surprised that we managed that one...
So here's how I remember it... with embellishments for your entertainment and amusement, of course! Sometime after lunch at the disco themed cafe, we split up. Mom and Dad wanted to take in a show, cause they were old and couldn't handle the heart pounding thrills of the log water ride that tells the story of that cute fluffy bunny going on a journey through the forest. We WANTED to ride the log water ride that tells the story of that cute fluffy bunny going on a journey through the forest, AND we wanted to pretend that we were going to build up the courage to ride the Iron Mountain coaster and the Power Tower.
Here is where the first problem arises. We had traveled North away from the disco themed cafe, paralleling the Power Tower and encroaching upon the big inflatable Snoopy. We were trying to settle on a designated meeting place... like, the house is on fire and everyone meets at the fire hydrant after they climb down the window ladder, stop, drop and roll. I don't know how the designated meeting place got so screwed up, but I do remember that we thoroughly discussed two options. The disco themed cafe, or the big inflatable Snoopy.
So my sister and I proceeded to walk to the back of the park to brave the harrowing log water ride while Mom and Dad settled in for a titillating Charlie Brown Funtime show. I don't remember how long we were allotted for unparented fun time, but I do know that I was worried that we were going to be late getting back to our designated meeting place. I don't know why I was so worried about getting in trouble. What did they expect was going to happen letting a 15 and 11 year old run free in a theme park? Oh no... we're going to get grounded for losing track of time while having fun! Or maybe I had a crazy notion that they would leave us in the park and just head home. Cause, ya know, our parents were those type of people. "Well gee Rick, they didn't make it back to the Snoopy on time. I guess we better jet. That'll teach em'."
So at this point, I became very much the 15 year old adult I thought I was. I sternly told my little sister that it was time to head back... to the disco themed cafe. Which is precisely what we did. And then we sat there and waited. And waited. And waited. Now, keep in mind that we were sitting outdoors at the cafe on the (I'm guessing) East side of the building. After sitting with a whiny 11 year old, in a fabulously fun theme park for close to thirty minutes without any sign of our parents, said whiny 11 year old pestered me until I agreed that Mom and Dad were gallivanting around the park themselves, probably engrossed in a Peanuts sequel, and had lost track of time. Thus, we departed the East side of the disco themed cafe and went back for another rendition of the cute fluffy bunny and his woodland journey.
Unfortunately, my gut instincts got the better of me after one ride and I started freaking out. We had lost our parents and were never going to see them again! I promise you there is no exaggeration in that statement. I literally freaked out! My sister can attest to this. So the first thing I did was put an end to the debauchery and dragged my sister to the nearest INFORMATION/HELP station. I then proceeded to inform the nice brunette in her cute little Cedar Point shirt that we lost our parents and wanted to report them to the "system". Said "system" was broadcast throughout the park to other stations in the event that our parents might simultaneously report us MIA. After being looked at like I was growing antlers and a tail, she instructed us to head back to our designated meeting place. Thanks lady. Because I couldn't have thought of that on my own. I was here for HELP, as your sign clearly advertises.
So my sister and I headed back to the disco themed cafe. As we passed the corkscrew, I remembered that we had also contemplated meeting at the big inflatable Snoopy. So I devised a clever, albeit absolutely useless plan. Since I could see Snoopy from the disco themed cafe, I was going patrolling. My now utterly pissed off 11 year old sister was instructed to plant herself firmly on the sidewalk in front of the Snoopy as I patrolled the expanse of pavement looking for our parents.
What I didn't mention earlier was that I had opted to wear my brand new, white Walmart brand canvas shoes, with no socks. After numerous water rides, my shoes were soaked and chafing my feet. All the patrolling cut into my Achilles heel and I was left bloodied and limping. My mood was not much better.
At some point, probably close to two hours after our originally designated meeting time, I was taking a break in front of the Snoopy with my sister pouting and fuming at my side, when my Mom pops into my peripherals and says "Here they are Rick." She had this ridiculous smile on her face, like "Oops! Silly me. That's where I left my keys."
Come to find out, they had been at the disco themed cafe at our originally designated meeting time on the WEST side of the building. They assumed we were having so much fun that we lost track of time. So they took off again to check out some other geriatric Cedar Point attraction and decided to check back again in an hour... on the WEST side of the building. At some point, they remembered that we had also suggested the Snoopy and headed in that direction. You know the rest...
I was livid. I'm pretty sure that was the first time I cursed out loud at my Mom. Then, being the Daddy's girl that I am, I saw my Dad and immediately turned into a blubbering mess of tears and snot. He consoled me and told me everything was going to be okay. I think both my Mom and my Dad took one look at my little sister and knew that she needed her distance. If looks could kill...
Now that we had found our lost parents and we weren't going to be left in Sandusky to fend for ourselves indefinitely, we tried to have fun before the park closed. We rode the corkscrew once, but my emotions left me spent and I was done. As we walked back to the parking lot, we all agreed that if we ever went to a theme park again, we were investing in mini walkie-talkie's.
I hope you enjoy this story... even though it's long. It's one of my favorites to share!