The Greatest Temporary Honor… Ever.

16 Aug

As a performer, it is considered one of the greatest honors at King’s Island to be asked to sing “God Bless America” to open the amusement park in the bright, sunny mornings here in Cincinnati, OH. You are required to greet the guests with a cheery, happy disposition… A reassuring smile, if you will, and a knowing twinkle in your eye that says, “After I sing this song, you are undoubtedly about to have the best day… ever.” You get to wear a flattering patriotic outfit, stand on the stage by yourself, and even include a few children volunteers to help you count down the agonizing final ten seconds before the yellow ropes are lowered and the antsy guests are able to rush to the attractions of their choice.

How the entire experience is supposed to go:

(The Performer takes the stage confidently. The alert and professional Sound Technician gives the signal to begin. The well-rested, agreeable, and bright faced Guests are giving their full attention to The Performer.)
The Performer: Good morning, King’s Island! My name is _______ and I am a part of the ________ cast, a show that will be taking place later today at _______. Please join me in singing God Bless America as we begin our day here at King’s Island!

God bless America,
land that I love!
Stand beside her,
And guide her,
Through the night
With a light from above.

From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the oceans,
White with foam!
God bless America!
My home sweet home!
God bless America,
My home sweet home!

(The Guests erupt with cheers of patriotic applause and delight in The Performer’s flawless singing voice.)

The Performer: (Modestly) Thank you! Now, please help me welcome our very special guests being escorted by (insert Peanut’s character name) and (insert the other Peanut’s character name) who will be doing a meet n’ greet later today!

(The Child Volunteers confidently stride onto the stage, smiles brimming ear to ear. The parents of the children wait quietly and proudly off to the side, beaming at their smart and well behaved children. The Peanut’s characters wait below, framing the stage symmetrically.)

The Performer: Hello there! What are your names?!
Child 1: (Confidently and loudly so that everyone can hear) BILLY!
Child 2: (Just as confident, if not even more so) SUZIE!
The Performer: And where are you guys from?
BILLY and SUZIE: (In perfect unison and possibly even in spoken pitch harmony) ANDERSON, INDIANA!
The Performer: Have either of you ever opened a park before!?
BILLY: Oh gosh, no!
SUZIE: Ee gads, this is our very first time!
The Performer: Wonderful! Are you ready, kids?
BILLY and SUZIE: (In complete confident unison) Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO!!! ONNEE!!! KINGS ISLAND IS OFFICIALLY OPEN!!!!!!

(Cue glitter and confetti cannon explosion. The Guests gasp in glorious surprise, and then applaud in relieved amusement.)

The Performer: Wonderful! Thank you so much, guys! You really did a great job. And to the rest of you, make sure you have the best day EVER, here at King’s Island!

But some days, as I’ve been forced to learn here at the Isle of Kings, things don’t always go as planned. Some days, as I’m walking into work at 8:45 am, no make up, hair frizzed so far out that even Hermione Granger herself would be offended, I like to fantasize about what I would like to say into the microphone…. and how I could change everyone’s mornings…

How I wish I could act, how everyone else in this experience usually acts, and how I wish I could react to their choices:

(I drag myself onto the stage, wiping my nose with my forearm muttering something along the lines of “It’s too early to be doing this bull sh*t.” The sound technician barely looks up from his game of Angry Birds to give me the thumbs up. I smack my lips together a few times and do a few lip trills.)

Me: A hem, yeah hi, hello? Is this thing on? Awesome… okay… Hey! What’s up everyone-

(No one responds. No one even turns to face the stage.)

Me: Hello, my name is Carolyn Barry…

(I look around to see a group of middle school students in Hollister and A&F apparel chasing each other, the boys screaming things like “HE LIKES YOU, HE LIKES YOU!” and the girls being all, “OH EM GEE, Trent, STOP ITTTT!!!”)

Me: Hello? HELLO my name is…

(I see three African American gentlemen with their pants around their ankles, swaggin’ it over to the yellow rope. “Nah, man, iss cool! We cool. I know you was only bangin’ her on Wednesdays, man.”)

Me: My NAME is Carolyn Barry, and I’m a member of the-

(Somewhere, the petrified screams of a child on a leash being physically disciplined by their overweight, already-sweating mother echo through the bottom of the Eiffel tower. It’s not even 10:00 am yet. Not one, single human being is looking at me.)

Me: Would everyone please just SHUT!!!! UP!!!!!!

(The Guests suddenly realize that someone is on a microphone behind them, and they start to turn. A few of them have a look on their faces like, “Who the hell is this?” or  “Is she talking to us?” and “Where is the closest place to buy all of the food?”)

Me: The sooner you listen to me, the sooner you can drag your cellulite-infested thighs onto the Diamondback, okay? GAHHH. Look, I get it, okay? I get it. No one wants to be here right now! What, you think I do? You think I ENJOY waking up at the ass crack of dawn just to get here, wear this sweat-infested dress and these heels that literally smell like miniature garbage cans, and sing some bull sh*t song for you people?!?

(The Sound Technician goes back to playing Angry Birds. His job was to make sure the mic was working, and he did that.)

Me: So, yeah, hi. Good morning. My name is Carolyn Barry, and I’m a part of the American Country cast which will be closing this weekend, so come see us! And you know what?  If you don’t want to, which I’m guessing most of you don’t want to do, that’s fine too. I get it. I’m not going to be heartbroken. They do sell beer there, so hey! If you DO decide to come, seeing my show isn’t going to be a complete waste of your time…

(Everyone is staring at me now. Somewhere, someone’s grandmother says, “WHAAAT?”)

Me: (muttered) Oh screw it. (Loudly) Look, I’m gonna level with you people. I’m really sorry, but I have to sing God Bless America now. Okay? I know you don’t want to listen to me, and frankly, I don’t want to sing it for you. But just like it’s your job today to buy over-priced pretzels with cheese and show off your trashy tattoos and third degree sun burn “tan lines,” it’s MY  job today to sing you this song. And I can’t help that. If it makes you feel any better, for the record, I think is pretty retarded that I’m singing this right now because the park blasts the National Anthem through the speakers all morning, and that black b*tch sings a lot better than me, but whatever. Here’s goes nothing…

(I clear my throat and give myself a “moment before.” Within this moment, everyone goes back to what they were doing.)


God bless America!
Land that I love!
Is anyone liiiiiiisteniiiiing?
And… guide her…
Little kid, you are fat, stop eating dippin’ doootttss….

From the mountains,
to the- Hey! Get off the stage!
To the oceans…
LOOK PEOPLE, don’t you see me standing here!?! Would you at least turn around and act like you’re watching me!?
My home sweet home!
…screw it.

Thank you for nothing, you useless reptiles. Okaaaaay!!! Now please help me welcome our very special guests being escorted by… Sh*t, who is it today? I forgot to ask… Ummm looks like… Snoopy? Annnddd…the black one, what’s-his-face, Franklin, right? Yeah. Whatever. C’mon, hurry up, we don’t have all day.

(The children are practically being dragged by Snoopy and Franklin to the stage. They do NOT want to be doing this. Their mom is running behind them with her camera: “Look here, honey! Look at mommy! Here, Billy, hold Snoopy’s hand and smile BIG for mommy! And Suzie? Hold onto… this guy, and smile for momm- BILLY! HOLD SNOOPY’S HAND AND SMILE FOR MOMMY!!!!”)

Me: Hi. What are your names?
(I hold the microphone down and neither of them answer.)
Me: (Muttered through a fake smile, mouth pointing away from the microphone) Look, you have to say your names into the microphone so everyone out there can hear you.
Billy: Buuuut no one out there is looking at us.
Me: Look, kid. I happen to know that your name is Billy. So SAY IT into the MICROPHONE or else your little sister SUZIE here gets to stand in front of the CO2 glitter cannons as they go off! Got that?
Billy: (Self consciously leaning into the mic) Billy.
(I hold the mic over to Suzie)
Me: And what’s your name?
Suzie: I like pancakes.
Me: … And where are you class acts from, anyway, huh?
Billy: Well, uh, we came in my mom’s van.
Suzie: Ooone time!? Our mooooooooom? She tooked us to McDonald’s, and I got a happy meal, and, and-
Me: Can it, Suzie Q. Let me guess. Neither of you little maggots have ever opened a park before have you? Noooo. No you haven’t. What a surprise! Everyone else that has ever done this has always opened at least two other theme parks in their lives! Okay. You ready?
(I hold the microphone down to them)
Me: You have to count down backwards from ten, remember?
Billy: … One. …Two…
Suzie: Purple!
Me: NO! Backwards numbers from ten to-  No. No you know what? You just lost your park opening privileges. Assholes. Here, watch! TennineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoONE KINGS ISLAND IS OFFICIAL OPEN WOOO!!!

(The glitter cannons don’t go off. I look to the sound booth. The Sound Technician is passed out. A few audience members clap out of habit of someone saying “woo!!!” into a microphone. They then look down at their own hands like, “What was that? Why did I just do that?” )


(The Sound Technician whips up and presses a button. The cannons explode, but barely shoot out any glitter or confetti. The result is a starling, yet somehow still anticlimactic gun shot noise that echoes through the park. As The Guests turn and run to be first in line for the Diamondback, I’m forced to put my arms around Billy and Suzie and “smile for mommy.”)

It’s at this point where I usually make my way back to the green room, kick off the smelly heels, and tell myself that hey, you know what? Everything I’m going through? This whole ridiculous existence? It’s only temporary. I just keep repeating those words over and over as the summer comes closer and closer to an end… It’s only temporary. It’s only temporary…

I think this picture says a lot.


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