I have been banned for life from a tourist attraction in Ohio.
Hindsight is 20/20. According to mine, I should have been a little more selective when it came to my choice of friends growing up.
It was the summer of 1991. My parent's owned a little Italian restaurant in Mansfield, Ohio, and that is where my siblings and I spent a great deal of time. Once we got bored with climbing a monster tree nearby, and running next door to Taco Bell with whatever money we could scrounge up (so we could eat ANYTHING that wasn't Italian food), we spent time irritating the customers inside.
My mom reached her breaking point and authorized a little field trip for us. Less than a mile away, was KINGWOOD CENTER, and it was free. Or, at least I think it was free...I don't remember ever paying. It was completely boring, because what kid wants to run around a garden, when you can't pick the flowers? Not me. But, we were well behaved, obediet kids, so we went. We didn't touch anything, and we returned to the restaurant later, to a much happier looking Mother.
Then we met...Python.
Obviously, that's not her REAL name, but I'm hoping my sister, Boogs, will get the joke.
Python lived nearby. She saw us playing near the restaurant one day, and introduced herself. She was a lot of fun. Well, not always, but she was USUALLY a lot of fun. The time she stole our Barbies was a little less fun...
But I digress...
One day we were playing with Python, and
Yeah, only here's the problem with that, Python...we don't have any more money. (I think I've read one too many Junie B. Jones books, perhaps)
"Yeah. But there's LOTS of money in the fountain in the greenhouse!"
Listening to her, was my first mistake.
Into the greenhouse we went. I wa 10, Boogs was 8, and my twin brothers were 7.
Python was first into the fountain. She made it look so easy! Dunk under the water, grab a handful of coins, and get out.
Boogs and I looked on disapprovingly as our brothers took turns getting in as well. After seeing how refreshed my brothers looked after their little swims, my judgement was clouded by my desire to cool off. I hopped in for my turn. This, was my second mistake.
I never had any intention of stealing. In order to steal any money, I would have to put my head under water, and I just wasn't willing to sacrifice my hairstyle for a measly sodapop. I dunked down just low enough to submerge my body up to my chin, and then I got out. No money in hand.
Just as Python was about to get in for a second round, we heard a man hollar:
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?!"
Python begins to run, but before she bolts, she hands me the coin collection.
My third mistake, was letting her.
When the guy reached us, I appeared to be the most guilty. I was soaking wet, with a fist full of change.
I immediately handed him the money, but it was too late. We were escorted into his office, where we were reprimanded, and our parents were called.
The details are a bit foggy, but I believe he told us that if he ever saw us there again, he would call the police.
The walk back to the restaurant felt much like a funeral procession.
And Mom did NOT greet us with open arms. An open mouth, and eyes bugging out of her head, maybe...
I'm sure the guy has since retired, or moved on to greener pastures, but just in case; I shall not return. Until next time I feel like swimming for my soda, that is!
**I feel the need to include that Boogs NEVER got in the fountain. She remained innocent the whole time, but was pegged "guilty by association" and received the same punishment as the rest of us. I knew I'd never hear the end of it if I left that part out.**