Children, moms, dads, grandparents, toddlers are all chanting, "Shamu! Shamu! Shamu!"
This is SeaWorld. And this is amazing. Living in the Nation's Capital, I forget that most towns and cities and amusements parks are not like DC.
Here in Orlando, the crowd roars as this primal ritual gets underway.
A young man in a whale suit is tossed into the air by a huge creature who could just as easily swallow him for lunch.
Where does the desire come from? To perch on the nose of a killer whale . . .
Right now, I'm at my desk typing. My desk could be perched on the back of a great tortoise under a coconut tree or set on a raft pulled by a team of dolphins.
Ah but alas, my feet are on the floor. My desk is still as a rock. But would I have it any other way? When I was small, ferris wheels upset my stomach. That round and round business just wasn't for me.
Actually, I like my quiet desk.
Swimming, with no creatures bigger than a pumpkinseed or a bluegill, was my family's big fun at a lake or on the beach or in a pool. My father and mother helped us paddle around with flippers and lifejackets or just an inner tube until we learned how to swim on our own.
Most lakes in Rhode Island had big rafts. If you could make it out there, you could bask on the warm wood until your lips turned blue before sunset.
We did dive off my dad's hands. He'd flip us up in the air so we could dive over his head. I guess that's about as close as we got to the Shamu experience.
My mother worked as a swimming pool director at Johnson & Wales in Providence.
After school, my friend Cindy and I would walk down to J&W and volunteer to help children paddle around free of their wheelchairs. Kids are kids in the water. Splashing around, making motorboat noises.
If anyone then had asked me if I'd like to learn how to dive off the nose of a killer whale, well, I can't imagine wanting to. Even then. My dad was another story.