Zapruder Analysis of My Trip to Santa's Wonderland
"Take care of your 24."
That saying comes from charismatic second year University of Connecticut basketball coach Kevin Ollie.
Basically, what it means is that there are only 24 hours in every day, so make every minute count, budget your time, stay balanced and make sure to live life to the fullest while thinking of others.
It's a noble point of view, but clearly when Ollie invented this sage bit of advice, he wasn't sitting in the interminable line of automobiles waiting to get into Santa's Wonderland in College Station, Texas.
When it comes to couples, every relationship is about a give and a take, and that may be even more true during the holiday season.
With a slew of office parties, seasonal events and the usual lineup of things to do, people to see and chores to attack, trying to make sure that you budget enough time for yourself while still attending to the needs of your significant other and family can be, well, a chore unto itself this time of year.
I've learned over the years, it's best this time of year to just say yes, and I will do almost any activity, indoors or outdoors, so long as if it's cold, it's not really windy. (Wind sucks.)
So because I know that no Houston man with a working set of testicles would ever voluntarily decide to trek 90 minutes to this Holiday Hades disguised with colorful lights, let me give you my own sage bit of Ollie-esque wisdom, in the event that your wife or girlfriend wants you to take her and/or your family to Santa's Wonderland:
Unless you have a need to score infinity relationship points with your honey, or you have some sort of odd fetish where you get wood while waiting in a transatlantic-size stretch of automobiles, if the subject of going to Santa's Wonderland ever comes up, politely change the subject the first time.
If it comes up a second time, dump her. If she's your wife, divorce her.
For those who don't know what Santa's Wonderland is, nestled snugly on Highway 6 just south of College Station, it's portrayed as a seasonal festival of colored lights, Christmas spirit, music and sweets. In actuality, it's really just the county fair wearing a Santa hat, only imagine the county banning any fun rides or games.
Oh, and imagine a sea of lines, every one more infuriating than the last. A two-hour line of cars to get into the parking lot begets a 45-minute line of screaming kids to get tickets for admission that begets another two-hour line for a hayride to actually, y'know, see the lights.
Somehow, I don't think this is what Santa had in mind for his "wonderland." (I would have asked him, but the line to see him was 90 minutes long.)
So that all of you -- men, women, children -- are fully informed of what you are in for should you choose to make the journey to Santa's
Hell on Earth Wonderland, here is my Zapruder-style diary of my evening in College Station (all times are CST and actual):
(PREFACE, PART ONE: There may be some of you thinking that all of the things I've said and that I am about to say are going to somehow damage Santa's business empire, or at least damage the Wonderland division of Kringle LLC. Let me tell you that if the line of cars to get in is any indication, it would take a thousand Seans blogging nonstop for about 6,000 years about nothing but Santa's Wonderland to even slightly register as a blip on Santa's business radar. Santa and his Wonderland will both be fine. I'm putting this out there in the spirit of "If I can save one husband or boyfriend..." Got it?)
(PREFACE, PART TWO: While it was my girlfriend Amy's idea to visit Santa's Wonderland, she quickly realized it was a mistake, never tried to sell it to me as "WOW, ISN'T THIS AWESOME?" and she is now just as bitter as I am, which is not an easy level of bitterness to reach. She showed a transcendent level of self-awareness on Saturday night for a girlfriend whose idea it was to make this trip. Kudos, baby.)
Okay, NOW let's Zapruder.... 7:30 p.m. -- We take the exit for Texas World Speedway off of Highway 6. Santa's Wonderland is actually off the feeder road on the other side of the freeway. I can tell this is the case because we are about to become the 5,467th car in a line that horseshoes a mile on our side of the freeway, over the overpass and back around down the feeder road to Santa's dirty little secret. Seriously, the line of cars we are in makes the line of cars at the end of Field of Dreams look like a Sunday afternoon at the Burger King drive-thru. Awful.
7:32 p.m. -- Awkward silence in the car, because Amy is quickly realizing that this may not have been a good idea. However, we already purchased tickets online, so we wait....
7:45 p.m. -- ....and wait....
8:09 p.m. -- ....and wait....
8:11 p.m. -- The GPS on my phone says that it was about two miles in total distance (feeder, overpass and loop back around) from the exit to Santa's parking lot. We've moved about 500 yards at this point. No joke.
8:13 p.m. -- Amy is playing solitaire, and I think she is fearful of conversing with me.
8:15 p.m. -- It's been about 45 minutes, and I'm now thinking of about a thousand better uses for the $42 I spent online for tickets to basically sit in traffic. The list of items includes "purchasing a really nice hammer to smash myself in the face" and "one-twentieth of an ounce of crystal meth."
8:32 p.m. -- We are now an hour into our wait and we've finally made it to the overpass to begin our U-turn down the feeder road. 1.1 miles in 62 minutes. Still another 0.9 miles to go.
8:39 p.m. -- Amy is now reading old takeout menus that are left in the bin of the car door.
8:45 p.m. -- It's about this point where I started having homicidal thoughts about Santa Claus, which, frankly, writing this the day after, makes me feel sad. There's nothing to trigger a wave of next-day self-loathing quite like devising ways to gut ol' Saint Nick like a fish.
8:47 p.m. -- To be clear, at this point, the trip has crossed over into "Okay, now I need to see this through because it might make a good blog post" territory. (Hopefully, you agree!)
9:02 p.m. -- Still about a half mile from the entrance, here is the point where my Christmas spirit tank truly hit empty, and I thought to myself, "This is exactly why Frank Costanza invented Festivus."
9:09 p.m. -- Forget Festivus, I'm fairly certain in the amount of time we sat there, I could have converted to Judaism.
9:16 p.m. -- Amy is now reading the owner's manual for the car.
9:26 p.m. -- Nearly two hours after exiting the freeway, we park our car about a half mile's walk from the entrance. We exit the car and realize that it's actually a half mile's worth of muddy parking lot, so now we get to play a human game of Pitfall (old school video game reference), too! The good news is we are close enough to smell the $12 fried dough!
9:38 p.m. -- We walk past a weaving snake line of another thousand human beings, and assuming it was people who hadn't bought their tickets, we bypass them. Ha ha ha, idiots! You know, because we were smart enough to buy ours ahead of time....
9:40 p.m. -- ...so naturally, as is par for this trip, we get to the entrance and find out from one of Santa's helpers that even if you bought tickets ahead of time, you still have to stand in line to exchange them for actual entrance tickets. But I did save two bucks per ticket because I bought them online! So there's that.
9:42 p.m. -- So we go back in line, and wait....
9:46 p.m. -- ...and wait....
9:57 p.m. -- ...and wait...
9:58 p.m. -- At this point, we are in a part of the line on a small bridge over a gully. After looking down to confirm that indeed the bridge is not high enough to jump and kill myself, I see a sign in Christmas font that says "Leave All Your Troubles Behind." Irony, thy name is Kringle.
10:04 p.m. -- We get to the front of the ticket line, and are greeted by one of Santa's workers who tells us we are next to get our tickets. She thanks us for "helping make this the busiest night in the history of Santa's Wonderland." No shit, she actually said that! That's like a restaurant sending personalized vomit bags to food poisoning victims and thanking them for their business. Lady, you're the worst!
10:05 p.m. -- We go to the ticket window and find out that the tickets we bought online aren't even valid for Saturday night, so we have to pay the difference between weekday and Saturday tickets. So there go our $2 per ticket savings! Now my budget is all throwed off!!
10:08 p.m. -- We walk into the main, common area of the festival and, WOW, so many choices! It's really tough. I mean, do we stand in a 20-minute line for some barbecue? Do we stand in a 15-minute line for some fried dough? Or do we stand in a two-hour line for the hayrides?
10:09 p.m. -- As it turns out, the hayride is the only way to see all of the lights, which is the huge selling point to making this trip in the first place. Lights. And another two hours to see the lights. LIGHTS.
10:10 p.m. -- Make no mistake, if I'm going to wait two hours to see lights, the "lights" had better be an army of Kate Upton holograms all dressed up like sexy elves twerking to "Jingle Bell Rock."
10:11 p.m. -- Oh, by the way, there are roughly a billion screaming, crying, wailing little kids at this thing. Someone should have brought Antonio Cromartie here for his sex talk when he was ten years old (or whenever he started having sex, so...yeah, about ten years old). He might have wrapped up.
10:12 p.m. -- After much consternation over which line to choose, Amy and I decide to go stand in the two-minute line for the pisser.
10:16 p.m. -- After relieving ourselves, and far less consternation than our previous decisions, Amy and I both decide that Santa is the worst CEO this side of James Dolan, running a yuletide racket that preys on the Christmas spirit. We decide to go home, having never been in greater lockstep on a decision in the three years we've been in our relationship.
And so that was our trip to Santa's Wonderland. Somewhere in that freezing cold maze of human sheep, there might have been angels singing amidst a holly, jolly Christmas warmth. We just never saw it.
But hey, at least it wasn't windy.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- Cougars Easily Dismantle Navy, Win 52-31
Fri., Dec. 4, 7:30pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 3:00pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 7:00pm
Sat., Dec. 12, 2:00pm
- Legendary UH Coach Guy V. Lewis Dies at Age 93
- Saints-Texans — Four Things to Watch For