A now a true story from the guru archives just because I can…
It’s weird how so many of my father’s interests became interests of mine. A lot didn’t, much to his disappointment, I’m sure, but some stuck. Things like wristwatches (he was a Rolex man), scuba diving (I’m a certified open water diver) and photography. My dad loved his 35mm SLR Pentax cameras. And no, the 35mm is not some lens spec. It describes the type of film that went in the camera.
Back then if you wanted a certain ISO, you had to buy that kind of film. It wasn’t just a setting on some fancy digital piece of electronics.
Eventually I’d have a Pentax of my own, which I still have to this day, although it’s been over 10 years since it was last used.
There was this one time we took our family vacation to Southern California. Among other tourist things we did, we visited a little place called Disneyland and that’s where this scary tale begins…
Disneyland. I remember having a map of the park and deciding where to go. One morning we got there just as it opened and I went directly to Space Mountain. There was no line. I rode that sucker nine times in a row. I’d hop off, go around, then get right back on. Good times.
Eventually we got around to visiting the Haunted Mansion. That was the day that I had been given the supreme honor and privilege of toting around dad’s precious older Pentax camera. Apparently one camera wasn’t enough. He had purchased a new one and, no doubt born of necessity, I actually got to carry the other one. All by myself.
It was an awesome responsibility. And I vowed to be up to the task.
Dad, of course, took great pains and a lot of time explaining the significance of carrying the camera. And he repeatedly stressed, “Be careful. Do not drop it.” He paused meaningfully for emphasis and then added, “I mean it. Do not drop it. I’d take pleasure in gutting you, boy.”
So it was that our humble family unit found ourselves in the Haunted Mansion ride. Slung over my shoulder in my kung fu death grip was the precious object I had vowed not to drop. Dad had the new Pentax. Mom and sis were also there. Who the hell knows what they were carrying? Probably nothing!
We shuffled along dutifully to the entrance of the attraction. It was a round room encircled with paintings. A group of people would enter, the doors would close, and then the room, which was actually an elevator, would go down a bit to let the
marks park patrons out to begin exploring the mansion. The whole thing culminated with a scary voice pointing out the door had disappeared and then bragging about his way out: A hanging body from the rafters which suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
It happened right after we entered the room. Everyone was in and the doors had shut. The room had not yet begun to descend. The room was totally quiet. A palpable sense of expectation hung eerily in the air. Something was afoot and it wasn’t going to be good. We were all ready for the ride to begin.
Suddenly, something unexpected happened.
What the hell was that? Was it part of the ride? Every single human being in that little room literally jumped three feet into the air and out of their skins. It was, by far, the scariest moment that ride had ever seen.
Frantically we all looked around. Seriously, what the hell had just happened?!?!?!
That’s when I noticed dad’s new Pentax. Out of it’s case. On the ground.
The old man had dropped the bloody thing!!!
I guess this was one of those quintessential “do as I say and not as I do” teaching moments.
That must have been the most expensive scary moment in Disneyland history!