Since everyone else is eulogizing Astroworld, I thought I’d share my last trip there.
It would have been about 1990. Granddad used to work for the Port of Houston – he was the managing editor of the Port’s magazine – and he took me to a PoH picnic at the Astro complex. He was retired but still liked going to the annual party. We had a lot of funny conversations with his former coworkers. We ate some good barbecue with plastic utensils from those little cellophane bags. Didn’t use the salt or pepper. Drank sweetened iced tea. It was August and hotter than a mofo. I think I was wearing a red shirt. Funny the things you remember.
I don’t think the trip to the park was planned. As I recall we were just going to go to the picnic, sweat, eat, talk and go home. Granddad, who is probably the sweetest person I’ve ever known (he’s a Virgo), occasionally gets this little evil glint in his eye when he feels like making some trouble. He wanted to go to the park that day. Unplanned. At this time, I would have been 20 and he would have been 74. You’d think the 20 year old would be begging the 74 year old to go to Astroworld, but it was the other way around. So we went to the park.[side note: he’s 89 now and STILL gets the glint]
I suffer from a few, um, issues. The one that is the most debilitating is the fact that I have to drive. When I’m a passenger in someone’s car, I almost have a panic attack – my heart starts beating really fast, I get nauseated, etc. Not fun. Sadly, this translates to rollercoasters as well. I don’t ride them. Granddad tried to get me on Greezed Lightnin’ but I wouldn’t do it. So we rode the pussy rides.
There’s one particular ride I specifically remember from that hot afternoon. It was the kind where you sit on a bench and a bar comes down over your lap. The bench you’re sitting on rotates. And the arm your rotating bench is on also rotates around a center that too is rotating. Basically, puke central. We’re riding that ride and I’m holding on for dear life and I look over at him, well, actually I think I was scooted over by gravity so I’m almost smooshing him, and I look over at him and he’s laughing. Uncontrollably.
I don’t remember how many times I went to Astroworld as a kid, but I can tell you that when I think about that place, I’ll always picture Granddad. Laughing.