I'm about to complain so if you're having a super fantastic Monday please come back tomorrow.
Here's the thing: Connecticut kind of sucks. The weather is questionable. Our mountains are more like pimples. Our lakes are puddles. Our state capitol is shady and on the verge of bankruptcy. Just 36% of the shoreline is publicly owned. If you don't have a rich aunt who owns beachfront property, don't try going to a public beach on a Saturday—the parking lots are often filled to capacity before noon.
Our dipshit, asshat governor Dannel Malloy is trying to tank the state. He taxes every breath we take: auto, income, property, pension, you get the idea. People are leaving the state in record numbers. His approval rating is in the toilet.
Yet he keeps on smiling. And taxing.
People from surrounding states use Connecticut highways to get to their vacation destinations, which means you can't drive on the highways during the summer because essentially they're parking lots. The state's transportation committee is talking about implementing tolls. You'd think that for once Malloy would cut state residents some slack and just charge out-of-staters but oh no, empty that wallet!
I despise the man. If my family and friends didn't live in Connecticut Chuck and I would be long gone.
Knowing all this—that we have our incomes sucked from us every day that we rot in this craptastic state—you can understand that I try to save money at every turn. Especially because I work part-time. I don't usually go to costly venues with my toddler during the week. Ditto for when we have all three kids home on the weekends.
But sometimes you need to leave the house. Sometimes it's gray and rainy and 30 degrees and your toddler is looking at you like If we don't see some new scenery I'm going to freak the eff out.
So on Friday I made plans with my mom friend to go to Mystic Aquarium. She just had a baby and is new to the whole trying-to-leave-the-house routine with an infant. We were supposed to leave from my house at 10 a.m. but instead ("diaper explosion!" and "he's hungry!" and "he's screaming!" and "he's tired!") she arrived at noon.
We got to the aquarium at 1 p.m. We needed to leave by 3 p.m. to get my older kids off the bus. The admission for adults was $34.99. Half of the aquarium's exhibits are outside (no thanks—it was 30 degrees). I'm no mathematician but the short tally is that I paid $17 an hour to watch things swim in a tank. I was never so glad to not have my two older boys with me. At $24.99 each I would have paid $85 for all of us. Not including food. Not including the 4-D theater.
Here's where I really get pissed off. Most of the staff looked like they LOATHED CHILDREN. Except for the cheery older woman who stamped my overpriced ticket, every person working (in particular the morose teenager manning the touch tank) looked as if they had just smelled a shitty diaper.
And maybe they had. But if you pay $34.99, you shouldn't have to deal with glowering staff. I can get that for free at the grocery store. No, for that kind of money I want sunshine blown up my ass from the minute I walk in the door. Yes, children yell and run and splash (it's a fucking water table, toddlers are going to splash), but if you don't enjoy children why do it?
I have to confess that certain aspects were fun. Like when my friend followed me into the women's bathroom and our strollers got caught in between the two sets of heavy doors leading in. It was like a scene from the Human Centipede. Fun, right? Automatic doors for mothers with strollers would be so un-fun!
Should I have gone on a sunny day for an entire day? Sure. Will I do that next time? Absolutely. But as we drove home I couldn't help but think that life in Connecticut feels like this all of the time:
It seems as if the stingrays are in on it too.
For some reason that makes it hurt that much more.
(For reference, New England Aquarium costs $27 for an adult ticket; Long Island Aquarium, $28; and Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, $13).
About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.