The Awful Truth

The horror -- only $35 for a full day

Published August 26, 1996 6:55PM (EDT)

as a white girl, I experience a special fear when I see a certain breed of my white sisters. These are the girls with something a little too damp around the mouth, the eyes of a soul that is looking for the wrong kind of action and babyfat that is no longer cute. An ignorant danger emanates from these women-children, sucking their cigarettes, smacking their jellied lips and fumbling their keychains bearing miniature shoes and bottle openers and roach clips and acrylic trolls.

They have mousy hair, waning in the damaged contortions of old permanents. They have extremely pale skin and wear makeup in unnatural shades of natural brown. They have huge breasts and wear oversized T-shirts bearing cartoon slogans of commercialized vulgarity, along the lines of "I wet myself on the Big Dick waterslide" or "Spring breakers do it from behind with beer." Their splayed feet, encased in white low-top sneakers, widen like a rubbery V under their large, quivering white thighs. From some matronly gene, they have inherited large buttocks in the shape of wide, flat cubes, but this does not prevent them from wearing extremely short shorts and halter tops that betray thick handfuls of misplaced flesh, nor does it prevent their hunger for mounds of whipped oil, dripping meat and buttery dough.

There is willfulness in their sticky chips of eye. First they want to consume anything they can eat, smoke or drink, then they want raunchy sex with evasive young black men, then television. They speak the loud ranting patois of the confessional talk-show addict, filled with aggressive slang, trumpeting out shameful viewpoints as a badge of raw individualism. Unfortunate tattoos are often involved -- greenish-black smears across the ankles and shoulderblades of A Flower or A Design, not reflecting any personal choice. They stride with their massive shoulders jabbing through the air, a walk imitating the rolling threat-gait of the young black men they so crave. Their one concession to femininity is their curly, shellacked claws.

I know where these girls go in the summertime -- New Jersey. They are all at Action Park, a Six Flags attraction, thousands and thousands of them.

We sighted them first in the parking lot. All of them were wearing large shorts and string bikini tops that were unable to fully support their enormous young breasts. Their faces were mean and hungry. We shielded the eyes of the children and walked among the barking tribes of white women to the park gates.

I was visiting this amusement park at the behest of a dear friend of mine, who was shuddering his way through a major family obligation that nearly caused his total breakdown within the first hour. We were the day's custodians of his 12- and 17-year-old cousins. The day proved to be primarily composed of hours and hours of standing like cattle or Auschwitz prisoners in endless lines sliced into shuffling "S" curves by gates of steel, a veritable petri dish of malformed Americans steeped in a terrible Way.

Most straight men on the East Coast are homophobic, and thus shy away from the gyms in New York and the surrounding boroughs. Therefore, most East Coast musclemen are gay, but occasionally you will see a straight muscleman. These are generally the products of either prisons or powerlifting gyms -- the latter being the ugly brute brother of the fancier gay gyms, which have penthouse spas and racquet sports and step aerobics on springy, bleached wood dance floors. Powerlifters only want size and strength, not classic male gladiator beauty, and their gyms are generally basement-level boxes of concrete and indoor-outdoor carpeting, with brutish strength tools of iron reminiscent of a slave dungeon for medieval blacksmiths.

Powerlifters want hugeness to be able to lift more and destroy bigger things and people, as opposed to wanting an even suntan all over and oiled uniform striations in their vanity muscle like falling ribbons of smooth cake batter. Powerlifters have hair like steel wool and frightful steroid acne like painful superballs embedded all over their rocky, fanning backs. Their women are the thinner counterpoints of the larger white women. They all have eyes that are too bright from a self-loathing that peels through their being like a constant personal fire drill -- an intolerable sonic noise that insists, "Get out! Get out! Get out!" to their personalities. Those personalities are always looking for somewhere else to go, and they find a big garage where they can park them temporarily in the powerlifters, who only require that the girls mate with them and smell like shampoo.

Spending six hours in close proximity with these people is an extremely equalizing experience. No matter what you think about or what you want to do in the world, you are going to stand in the line like everyone else and shuffle among paper cups and dismembered hot dog parts for 45 minutes. Forty-five painful minutes of heat and waiting, all for two painful minutes in which you are strapped into a small rolling box and whipped about in hellish rattling noise and profound bodily discomfort. The raucous laughter one hears on roller coasters is the dysfunctional relationship between mind and body, the body saying, "Danger! Cut it out!" while the mind says, "Shut up and suffer, bitch. I call the shots."

It costs hundreds of dollars for a small family to spend a day at Action Park. These are hundreds of dollars that could have been spent on dental hygiene or courses in French, but these are seekers of the most immediate pleasure available, in food, love and leisure. They seize the moment, tear off the plastic wrapping, and eat it all in three large bites.

As I wandered about I found myself imagining a slightly more dangerous park, one in which the chances that funlovers would incur severe physical injury or death were considerably higher. Instead of Bumper Cars, this park would feature exciting attractions like a 50-chamber handgun with one bullet. The barrel would be placed next to the head of the grinning participant and a sullen carnie would pull the trigger. The player would have a one in 50 chance of death. If he survived, his family would return home with an enormous stuffed likeness of Tweety Bird made of yellow fun fur and a roll of coupons.

This day is coming. The American Self is low and shoddy, with a morality as bendable, plastic and hollow as a drinking straw, and it contains an inherent nihilistic self-hatred that will eventually demand more actual life-threatening peril in its activity theme parks.

Firetrap '97! Sink or Swim! Razor Ski! Without doubt, by the year 2000 each park will have its own Happi Morgue.

Bodies will be transported in foam snap-tab containers to the crematorium of the family's choice. Free sunvisors will be given to the female relatives of the recently deceased, as they stand and watch the MTV monitor over the disposable coffin, fruit chews churning in their open mouths.

Tonight, they will eat barbeque. Tomorrow, the world.

By Cintra Wilson

Cintra Wilson is a culture critic and author whose books include "A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease" and "Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny." Her new book, "Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling America's Fashion Destiny," will be published by WW Norton.

MORE FROM Cintra Wilson

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

New Jersey