I’m not sure how many days of hot weather we had on our first trip to Paris, but what I do remember is that my daughter, Emma, had heat rash, our hotel had no air conditioning, and there were people dying from heat exhaustion all over Europe that summer. The heat was inescapable unless you stayed in one of the twelve buildings in Paris that had air conditioning. We spent one afternoon in an air-conditioned theater watching a cartoon version of Sinbad in French, no subtitles, no English, we understood none of it but it was two hours of cool air. We didn’t care about the movie; we just cared about air-conditioning. The movie ticket agent was suspicious, we spoke hardly any French, we wanted to buy tickets for a movie that was starting in an hour (“You cannot go in now”) and we were not in an area of Paris nearly free of tourists.
Our goal really was just to give the kids a little treat, they had been such good troopers with the heat and walking, we thought we would take them to a movie. The plan was to go to the theater, which was located in a large shopping mall, get our tickets early, eat lunch at the food court and then watch the movie. We would be inside during the heat of the day, the kids would be refreshed for the rest of the evening, and it was a good plan until we walked by Aquaboulevard. Auqaboulevard was a water park designed by Jacques Cousteau that sat alongside the mall. There were several places in the mall where you could look into the water park, and of course, one of the places just happened to next to the food court. If you are a parent you know how it went.
“Can we go in there?”
“We are going to the movie, we already have tickets.”
“But, I want to go in there.”
“I want to go now,” tears begin streaming down face.
“Maybe tomorrow, I will see how much it will cost. We could spend the whole day there.”
Did I want to spend a whole day in a water park in Paris? No, I really did not want to travel all the way to Paris to swim in a bunch of urine infested waters, but I made the mistake of saying, ‘Maybe tomorrow,’ which meant we were going to the water park tomorrow unless it cost a billion dollars. It didn’t.
The next day we trudged from our hotel to the water park. My kids were excited and I was actually looking forward to getting out of the heat and spending some time frolicking in the urine soaked waters of Aquaboulevard. (I am assuming the water is full of urine. I have no actual evidence of urine in the water other than the fact that kids pee in public pools all the time.)
We arrived at the water park and I began navigating the complex cost system of the water park. There was only one attendant who spoke a little English and so we did our best to figure out the prices. It turned out the least expensive route was getting a yearlong membership, which meant I had to fill out some paper work. I really had no clue what I was writing in any of the little boxes but I did my best and when it all looked done, we paid and began heading back to the changing rooms and here is where the day came apart. There was a red sign with a man wearing shorts with a large red X across it. Next to it was a green sign with a man wearing a Speedo, there was no red X on the Speedo, although, in my opinion there should always be an X on men wearing Speedos.
I stopped the girls from going into the changing rooms and went back to ask the English speaking attendant if our swim trunks were okay. They were not. We had to have Speedos. We did not have Speedos. We could not go into the park. Really? Really.
Cancel the yearlong membership, pull crying kids out of the entryway, walk back to the hotel through the heat, and feel like quitting. Not a good start to the day.
We did manage to rally and find a great park nearby (see the video) and the kids had a great time there, but someday when I am 70 years old I will have revenge on Aquaboulevard: I will go there in a small white Speedo.