[Friday] Essay – The Horrible Holiday

When I was five I went on the Horrible Holiday, that’s what I call it anyway.  It’s not that the whole trip was horrible or that anything truly awful happened – no one died or got sick, we weren’t in a terrible accident.  I call it the Horrible Holiday because of all the family vacations I was on as a child this is the one I remember as having the most disappointments.  It started out happily enough.  We packed up our little station wagon for the road trip from London, Ontario to Toronto and Niagara Falls.  The best part was travelling to Toronto.  This was many years ago in another century in a time when people threw caution to the wind, did not require children to be strapped in, padded down or helmeted up in order to ride in a motor car.  Ah, the Seventies!  My parents put the back seat down and covered the back with a foamy and sleeping bags.  My younger brother and I just rolled around in there playing with plastic farm animals as we hurtled down the highway toward Toronto.

I’m sure staying with friends was fun but I don’t have a clear recollection of such fun.  I do recall our visit to the Metro Toronto Zoo.  We were allowed to go into the deer enclosure and pet the baby fawns.  Before we went in the children were given those little cup-style ice cream cones.  I was very excited for ice cream – I still get excited for ice cream.  This is where Horrible Holiday event number one occurred.  The zookeeper did not put ice cream in my ice cream cone.  The zookeeper put deer food in my ice cream cone.  I was promptly swarmed by hungry deer and nearly eaten. Horrible deer.

The next ‘fun’ thing we did was go to the water park at Ontario Place.  Sounds like a lot of fun for a five year old, right?  Wrong! Horrible holiday event number two occurred here. One of the ‘fun’ things to do at the waterpark was to shoot other children with enormous water guns.  I happened to be one of those other children.  After the painful sting of freezing needles of water I stumbled, crying, towards my mother promptly tripped and skinned my knee.  Horrible children.

marineland-largeThen we were on to Niagara Falls and Marineland.  What North American child doesn’t love whales and seals and whatnot?  Well, I certainly loved killer whales.  I had a National Geographic book all about marine mammals so I was very interested in seeing a killer whale up close.  Now being around all the water at the tank must have convinced my bladder it was time to go to work because during the show I had to go to the washroom.  As I made my way toward the washroom Horrible Holiday event number three occurred.  For some reason the marine mammal – I believe it was an orca – in the tank decided that the cute little blonde girl in the red hand-knit poncho was too dry for a cute little girl at Marineland.  I was drenched from head to toe in whale water and had to go to the washroom worse than before!  Horrible whale.

Generally, my childhood was pretty good.  I always had a bike to ride, friends to play with and had great fun at camp nearly every summer.  However, I will always be haunted by that most horrible holiday.

Be Lovely to Each Other,