You can take out the “L,” but there were more than six of them.

Summer 2001 I was really excited to take my first trip to Six Flags over Mid-America (now called Six Flags St. Louis) in three years. My previous trip was my senior skip-day, or rather my senior “fun day,” as school administrators have sticks up their butts and don’t want to refer to something as a “skip day” because it might suggest that they promote skipping school. Groan. (A fun note about that trip to Six Flags: Southeast High School’s class of 1998 was the only senior class in the history of District 186 to be allowed to go to Six Flags as opposed to the standard day trip to Knight’s Action Park, and I think we still are, since it was such a disaster that the school board swore they’d never allow that again. But I digress . . . ). I went on a Sunday with the following friends: Aaron, Steve, Amanda, Tara, and Tara’s friend, who I am sorry to say but I don’t remember her name. Oh, well. I’ll call her . . . Burta.

The previous night, everyone but Burta crashed at my apartment. We were all very excited and couldn’t get to sleep, so we appropriately stated the classic line, “We’re too excited to sleep!” from that Disney World commercial over and over and over. On the way there, we pick up Burta via a much-farther-than-I-would-have-preferred detour. We were in two cars: mine, with Tara and Burta, and Aaron’s, with Steve and Amanda. We get to the gates and wait in the lines to get into the parking lot. While sitting in the line, Tara looks at the car to our left and says, “Hey, Braden, those girls in that car look like the kind of girls you and Aaron would go for.”

I looked, and they were of the punk/indie persuasion, so I confirmed that, yes, those were girls that Aaron and I would be attracted to. I look forward again and then Tara shouts, “OH MY GOD THEY JUST KISSED!”

Hmph. Apparently these were not girls who would be attracted to Aaron and me, though.

We park our cars and proceed to the main gates. As we’re walking, I begin to notice an abundance of rainbow stickers on cars. I try to write this off as not a big deal or anything significant, but it does seem odd that in a row of 30 cars, it seems 20 of them have rainbow stickers. Oh, well.

Once through the gate, we see an awful lot of very butch women, still managing to look pissed even though they’re smiling, and just as many effeminate men, being louder than usual.

So . . . do you think? No. Can’t be. I nor any of my friends were saying anything about this. Yet.

We walk by a young male couple all punk-rocked out, but wearing white t-shirts with rainbow smiley faces on them that read, “Have a Gay Day!” The first ride we all go on together is The Batman, and while waiting in line, we see, exiting the ride above us, two guys with the exact same haircut, the exact same tank tops, the exact same way-too-small shorts, and both of them equally as buff.

After riding The Batman, we continued to see groups of obviously homosexual men and women. And by “obviously homosexual,” I don’t mean just demeanors, way of talking, fashion choices, or even holding hands with someone of the same gender (though those were all there). I mean people sitting in each other’s laps and being VERY touchy feely while having conversations with other touchy feely couples. I mean people making out. I mean shouting sexual jokes and phrases. I’m glad we didn’t go in the water park. I can only imagine and I get shivers just thinking about it.

There was no denying it. It was Gay Day. We would find out later that there was a Gay Pride march in St. Louis that weekend, and this day was unofficially chosen to be the Six Flags trip for everyone. I don’t think Six Flags officially endorsed it, but they had to have known about it, because many of the ride operators were obviously homosexual. Like the gay guy who kept taking the announcement microphone at The Boss and kept warning the girls over and over to secure their tube tops. It was funny the first time. Not so funny the 10th time.

The most uncomfortable moment of the day came when the six of us went on Thunder River. We shared our boat with three lesbians and a gay guy. Two lesbians, who I think were the only official couple in this quartet, were very very overweight, and they were unable to sit together because each pair of seats has one seatbelt, and the seatbelt wouldn’t fit over the two of them, so one of them moved to sit by the other lesbian. “Oh, now that you’re sitting next to me, I know I’m going to get wet,” she said, to our horror. The ride was plenty awkward, as the gay guy would not shut up and he wasn’t that funny. At least he wasn’t funny in the way he thought he was funny. The six of us still laughed a lot about him after we were off the ride, believe you me.

Towards the end of the day our sextet decided to break up into three pairs so we could all enjoy the last few rides we wanted and not waste time on ones we didn’t want. Well, Steve and Amanda were a couple, so they headed off their way, and Tara and Burta went off buddy-buddy, and Aaron and I went off on our own. Oh, you should have seen the uncomfortable looks we got from the other guests who were just as surprised as we were about what day it was. We joked about holding hands, just to yuck it up, but we didn’t. I actually kind of wish we did. It would have made this story that much funnier.

Remember those kids you went to high school with that you always kind of had that suspicion about? Yeah, me, too. And I saw several of those people there. I also saw some other people there that I didn’t think for a second were gay, because I knew they weren’t, but it was still really cool to just happen to pass by them as they were leaving the Mr. Freeze. A few weeks later I ran into one of them.

“Hey! Kyle! How you been?”

“Hey, Braden. Good.”

“Did you have a good time at Six Flags?”

“Oh, that’s right! Yeah, that was a good day. We got kicked out for flicking off the Log Flume camera.”

“That’s awesome!”

“Oh, and yeah, did you know it was Gay Day?”

“Yeah! That was crazy.”

“Yeah, when we were being escorted out by security, we began to notice it a little, so we asked the security guard and she confirmed it.”

“Wait, when you got kicked out? What time did you get kicked out?”

“Oh, about 5 o’clock.”

“What time did you guys get there?”

“About 10 or so.”

“And you didn’t notice until 5 o’clock?”

“No.”

. . . I guess he was focused on his good time.

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