Last night, the usual suspects and I went to Knotts. “We never go out. We never have fun. We just sit around the coffeeshop and talk.” So, we went out. Not everyone in the clan has Disneyland passes, but Knotts after 4pm is only $20, so why not?
The evening was horrifying! Do not get me wrong–it was fun as all hell, but aside from “Knotts Scary Farm,” I had not been there since junior high. I think I became consciously illuminated of the reasons for this.
First, the quality of clientele between D-Land and Knotts is vastly different. I do not want to sound like an elitist snob, but it was still very noticeable. Now, I do realize that I bag on the Kingdom of the Mouse quite a bit. The whole place seems very saccharine and sterile. It wreaks of the typical American trait of over simplifying concepts, foreign culture, and anything else slightly above the lowest-common-denominator, taking these uber-abridged models to one spot, and showcasing them. In stark contrast, Knotts seemed like a scary, low-budget, watch for the thieves and backstabbers, carney. There were so many unrelated “street vendors” that I felt the place was a swap meet. The park guests looked less like polite tourists and all-American families (which have their own scary traits) and more like gang bangers. I felt less save walking around the park, even with park security guards, than I would have felt walking alone down Knott or Beach, past all of the skanky motels, at that same time of night.
Now, take this general ambiance and stir in a few more ingredients. For one, ensure that everyone under the age of 8 is wearing a bright red t-shirt, sometimes worn over an existing shirt, emblazoned with “Red, White, and Cool.” Some free promotion, probably. Isn’t Snoopy also “Joe Cool?” (Not to be confused with Johnny Cool-Smoke.) Second, ensure that there are roving bands of warring cheerleaders. Yeah, like that movie where the white cheerleaders stole the phat dance moves from the black ones…or something. Now, fifteen years ago, I would have been HORRIFIED to know that the future-self-Enigma would be quoted as saying “it would have been better without the cheerleaders.” In retrospect, fifteen years ago, I was trying to teach myself that coffee actually tastes good, hanging out behind the mall was fun, and a fun night out was a sleepover at a friends house (staying up late to watch Saturday Night Live and raid the liquor cabinet).
Do not get me wrong. The preceding paragraph makes it look like I had a horrific time, but I really did have a lot of fun. I was with friends. We were making jokes and puns. We had camera wars (I would post the pictures from the trip, but most fell into the “you had to be there” category of fighting with cameras and camera flashes–with a few notable exceptions, like Brandon lighting a cigarette off of a cardboard-standup campfire with Snoopy and Woodstock). We saw how much the park had changed in all the years….the soapbox derby was gone, the Calico mine ride was as cheezy as ever, Ghostrider was new (to me, anyway) and cool, the Hat Dance ride was there, but I think the Tilt-A-Whirl was removed, we got to see the death plunge rollercoaster…(in locating this link, I learned something new. The fun wooden rollercoaster ride that lasted an unusually long time, has shed several-foot-long planks into the parking lot below and injured five people).
The whole evening was fun. This even includes the ride home…aimlessly looking for a place to eat, and happening upon “The New Orleans Cafe” on Beach and Ellis-ish. This place had the best Cajun food I have tasted locally (even better than Cliff’s Ragin’ Cajun, which is a tough restaurant to top). I am, at this moment, enjoying the last of the leftover crawfish pasta. Jeremy had alligator for the first time (“tastes kind of like chicken, but with some pork flavor”). Kate had tasty vegetable lasagna (not even skimpy on the veggies–it had a 50/50 pasta/veggie ratio). The only thing that would have made it better is fresh lemonade (like Cliff makes at his restaurant).