NUDGE: Rain-Soaked

Like much of the country, our area in Southwestern Ohio is getting drowned in rain. The rivers are up, the ground is sodden, a glimpse of sunshine seems as rare as spotting a peacock on a neighbor’s roof.

One of the big misfortunes of the rain and the flooded Ohio River is what’s happening to Cirque du Soleil OVO, which pitched its tents at the old Coney Island amusement park grounds near Cincinnati. As locals know, Coney floods before the river officially reaches its 52-foot flood stage. Since the river’s been swollen for weeks, it’s no big surprise that Cirque de Soleil found itself marooned on a patch of macadam with water all around, including the submerged entrance to the park. The show performed only twice before flood waters shut it down, and for now the next presentation has been postponed until next week—God willing and the river don’t rise again.

I’ve always said my birthday is either gorgeous or rain-drenched. This flooding misfortune at Coney reminds me of my 11th birthday, which fell on Sunday that year (1965). My big celebratory plan was the family would go to Coney for one of their preview weekends, when all the rides would be in operation. I’d romanticized this outing in my head in the weeks leading up to my birthday, picturing a sunny April day with apple blossoms on a balmy breeze as boats plowed the sparkling river and we dipped and spun on one mechanized wonder after another.

That Saturday dawned wet and gray. I remained hopeful, and I even convinced my parents to ride past Coney, planning to continue with our outing if the weather cleared by the time we arrived. It didn’t. Wet canvas covered the seats of the Ferris wheel, the colorful helicopters were grounded, and the pavillions looked dreary and deserted from Kellogg Avenue.

Sunday, my birthday, was no better. In fact, it may have been worse. I think we rode past the amusement park again (probably in an attempt to still my whining and weeping). I remember there were Boy Scouts having a camp-out on the grounds of Coney. We could see their damp tents in the distance. The river was misted from view.

I was extremely disappointed. Mom came up with an alternative plan to see “Mary Poppins” at the local drive-in that evening. I think it rained even then, at least for the opening feature. I don’t recall what that was, but I do remember going to the indoor refreshment stand and spotting the Mary Poppins souvenirs, especially a toy carpet bag such as the one Mary grasped as her umbrella lifted her through the London skies. I thought about applying my birthday gift money toward buying it, but my heart wasn’t in it. I enjoyed the movie, but the water-logged day wasn’t what I’d had in mind.

Prompt: Write about a time when heavy rain ruined your plans. Don’t settle for a simple shower dampening a picnic. Conjure up a gully-washer that thoroughly drowned something special. Could have been the playoff game of a Little League series, a wedding day, a trip to the state fair, 4th of July fireworks, or any kind of event you anticipated with relish. Describe the weather conditions, the contrast with what you had looked forward to, your feelings of disappointment. If you want to put a positive spin on it, that’s fine, but don’t be afraid to let it stand as a monument to the let-down of plans gone awry.


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