Today we took advantage of our Six Flags season passes. After checking into the hotel this morning, we attempted to get just a little more rest. Our kids had other plans. Still I managed to get a sold fifteen minutes and I was good to go. Around noon we had showered and gotten everything packed for a day at the park!
When we arrived at Six Flags Over Georgia I immediately noticed that this park was NOT very much like Six Flags Over Texas. For starters the park was empty! There was almost no one there. We asked around — were the Atlanta-area schools still in session? — and, from our conversation with a random woman who revealed that she used to live in Arlington and actually worked at SFTX, we learned that this was, in fact, the norm. It’s normally not nearly as crowded as other theme parks. This was to our advantage. Karla immediately went on a ride. No lines, no waiting. The kids and I, as ever terrified of “big rides”, watched from the ground as Mommy was lifted about 8200 feet into the air and then dropped unceremoniously. The screams one hears from the ground below one of these big rides is actually amusing.
After a few kiddie rides Karla suggested we attend a “show”. If you’ve never been to a show at an amusement park then just follow along. First, the good news… The place was dark and air conditioned. Since it was four million degrees (Kelvin) outside, this was a welcome bit of relief. “What show are we seeing?” I asked my wife as we were lead to a row of chairs in the middle of a dark auditorium. She didn’t have to answer. The stage was right in front of us and the show had already started. “Ah,” I thought, “it’s a tribute to the disco age. I thought this because there were about twelve people on stage dressed like Travolta, boogying down to You Should Be Dancin’. OK, they weren’t bad. As we took our seats, the stage cleared. “Great,” I thought, “I love the BeeGees!”
But our experience quickly devolved from a schlocky cover act of 70’s super hits to something far stranger and more nefarious. The lights went out, then flashed a few dozen times, then quickly came back up. Taking the stage now were the same twelve people who had just been copying the moves of Robin Gibbs. They bounded out onto the boards and began singing and dancing to a different beat. Turns out this was a tribute to several decades worth of music. Spare me. This was now the 80’s. However, I don’t remember Madonna and Jon Bon Jovi sounding quite this “soulful”. The lights came up just bright enough and just quick enough for me to realize that, in addition to our pale faces, the audience consisted of about five other small groups of equally less-pigmented types. Looking at the stage I could see that our performers did not quite resemble the stars they were imitating. I wondered how they were going to complete this set without the whole thing coming across as some kind of latter-day Mammy act. Actually, as they continued singing I realized it really didn’t matter. The entertainment value was more than enough for me!
Our troubadours worked their way through Material Girl and Livin’ on a Prayer before moving into the 90’s. Can you imagine this? Picture Boys II Men singing Smells Like Teen Spirit. Yeah, it was quite enjoyable. The same dancer played the roles of both Eddie Vedder and Mariah Carey. Simply amazing. Rita, sitting on my knee, really got down with her bad self. I think she was scared. I hope she wasn’t scarred. They moved into the 2000’s. But before they got there something truly bizarre and even almost hurtful happened…
The stage went black. I mean the the actors disappeared in the darkness. I mean, you know what, there’s no way to word this without a double meaning. The lights went off? Sounds good. Let’s go with that. Then the lights came up. A tall woman of color wearing a white flowing dress stood still in the middle. “If…” was all she had to sing into her microphone before I knew where she was going. It was their tribute to Whitney Houston. “Too soon,” I said to Karla. Actually, though, she did a decent job.
Finally moving into the last segment of the show, I guess they realized they were running out of time because their section on present-day music was speeded up by a good 30%. I swear I thought I was watching an episode of Celebrity Rehab as the twelve dancers took the stage to zip their way through Party Rock Anthem and Moves Like Jagger at 1 zillion bpm. I felt like I was watching a group of people literally imploding. The songs ended and the dancers breathlessly took their bows.
Wow… Just, wow…
We spent the rest of the day driving around Atlanta, went to mass at the cathedral and had dinner with a friend of Karla’s.
Then, back at the hotel, all hell broke loose…