Now the strategy for people watching at a store full of tubby broads or freak tent is obvious, but the amusement park, the Mecca of twisted, corrugated steel and twisted, fried dough, is a trickier game. It might take some time, but the amusement park option will pay off, after all, it is a melting pot for everyone in America who can afford $49.95 for a day and doesn’t mind the shameful lack of shame present. People watching is so much better than bird watching; instead of monotonously checking off avian species in book, you’ll get to witness dirtbags yelling at carnies, beached whales taking years off their lives by eating nachos by the trough, and white-trash kids tipping over garbage cans to have a good ol’ fashioned trash fight. My god, America is awesome.
Know Your Location: Now, occasionally you will be in line for a roller coaster and overhear a heated rant from a father to an amusement park worker claiming, “My daughter is totally tall enough to ride The De-Virginizer!” followed by a near-fistfight with the kid working the line—hilarious, but rare. You’re going to have significantly more success if you’re situated on a midway or food court. Both of these options are populated by the more lumbering, insulin-pouch-touting types whose dimensions prohibit them from the rides, but are still determined to get their money’s worth through corndog binges or by winning stuffed animals. Everyone is different, some of us get our thrills riding the rides some of us get our thrills watching a frumpy, sweaty couple gorge on multiple pounds of kielbasa and lard.
Provoke if Needed: There’s nothing like finding a redneck couple in grossly undersized wifebeaters at a game on the midway. You know this type just by looking at them: they celebrate the late Dale Earnhardt’s birthday more than their children’s, they refuse to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday, and their idea of a babysitter for their litter of kids is fifteen dollars, a pizza menu, and a note saying “I want change” left on top of the PlayStation unexpectedly one morning. All it takes is a little nudge. Just a little nudge, a little “Psshh, real men can always win at this,” said to be overheard by the guy just as he’s pissed away another two bucks trying to knock over milk bottles or toss a ring onto something. Now, you’ve just put a match to the extremely combustible material of male insecurity. This is no longer a carnival game. No, this is a grown man trying to validate to his lady, her father, and himself that he’s good enough for her. There will be screaming, there will be tears, there may be even blood. For the sake of his psyche, pray that his lady isn’t preoccupied with trying to suck down the remaining tobacco bits from second-hand cigarette butts in the overflowing ashtray to notice him eventually winning her a giant stuffed banana in a Rasta beanie that only cost him about a week’s pay.
Recognize Your Limits: Everyone has a tipping point. It’s the feeling you have before taking the shot at the bar that immediately leads you to barfing in that fat girl’s purse. It’s when you change the channel because you’re just one Sarah McLachlan Humane Society commercial away from crying your eyes out. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we’ve all been desensitized to quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean your kryptonite doesn’t exist out there. All it takes being a little overzealous and pushing your limit before you end up scarred for life. What I’m trying to convey is that if you hear passionate, Italian moaning coming from behind a dumpster, realize that you’ll never ever be able to un-see that pudgy, tattooed man having sweaty vacation sex into his lasagna-munchin’ ogre of a wife. This is people watching, people; some stones are better left unturned if you ever want to be able to stomach the smell of hard salami again.
[Park image via ShutterStock]