Roller Coasters and Retirement
Richard exited his study and slowly crept into the sitting room. He could just make out the back of Emily's head under her straw hat as she bent over her roses. Satisfied that she would be occupied outside for a while longer, he quickly made his way to his wife's desk in the entry hall below the stairs. Grinning, as he spotted her day planner lying out on the open worktop, he flipped it open to the current month, scanned the days for what he wanted, and then closed it and entered his study again, being sure to close the door behind him.
Later that evening as they enjoyed their dinner of lamb chops and roasted potatoes, Richard couldn't wait to begin phase one of his plan. "Wonderful dinner, my dear."
"So, you're enjoying the lamb?" she asked eyeing her husband thoughtfully. He was clearly up to something, but she was not going to give him the satisfaction of asking what it was, at least not just yet. He had been holed up in his study most of the afternoon and even though his mood had improved considerably since deciding to begin his consulting business, there was a very curious twinkle in his eye the last few days.
He chewed and swallowed before answering, "Yes, very much."
"Good, I'm glad," she replied reaching for her wine glass. "It's a new recipe I thought we'd try out." She watched him as she took a sip of wine and replaced her glass on the table.
Richard continued eating, proud of how casual he was able to be. He was sure Emily suspected nothing.
"We could have it for the girls next month," she suggested as she took another bite of her potatoes.
"I'm sure they'd like it very much," he agreed, stealing a glance at his wife as he reached for another roll.
Emily pretended not to notice his surreptitious look as she cut herself another bite of lamb. He was most definitely up to something.
He swallowed a bite of asparagus, took a sip of his wine and decided to forge ahead. "I noticed that you don't have anything on your schedule next Tuesday. I'd like you to keep the day open if possible."
Here it comes. Emily looked up at him and smiled, "I suppose I can do that. What did you have in mind?"
"Oh, I just thought we could spend the day together before I go back to work," he replied.
She gazed into his eyes, her smile widening and softening, "I'd like that very much." Richard smiled back, both unwilling to look away for a few moments.
The maid appeared in the doorway and asked, "Are you ready for dessert, ma'am?"
Emily's features quickly regained their usual stoicism as she regarded the maid then turned to her husband. "Richard?"
"Yes, I believe I'm finished," he answered.
"You may serve dessert then," she instructed the maid watching carefully as the woman picked up first her plate then Richard's and entered the kitchen.
They were quiet as they waited for the maid to return, which she did momentarily. Each thanked her as she placed individual berry tarts with whipped cream in front of first Emily then Richard, and then removed the serving dishes that were still on the table. Emily nodded as the service was executed perfectly and without need of further instruction, finally a maid who know what she was doing.
They enjoyed their tarts in silence for a few moments, before Emily asked, "So, what did you have in mind for Tuesday?"
Richard placed his fork on his dessert plate, folded his hands, and regarded Emily seriously before breaking into a mischievous grin. "That my dear, is going to be a surprise."
She dropped her fork onto the plate with a bit more of a clatter than she anticipated, but paid no attention to it. "Richard, really," her tone was one of irritation and disbelief, "you know how I feel about surprises."
"I know that you like to be the one in control of them," he teased.
Her reply was a huff as she returned to eating her tart and reached for her coffee cup only to find it empty. She took a breath, about to call to the maid, when the woman entered the dining room with a serving tray containing, the coffee pot, creamer and sugar bowl. Emily glowered at Richard as the maid went about pouring them both coffee.
Once the maid had excited, Richard continued, "Where's your sense of adventure?"
"I left it in my other purse," she quipped, "besides, it doesn't include my husband keeping secrets from me."
He could tell she wasn't really upset, at least not yet she wasn't, though he did wonder just how long it would be before she demanded to know his plans. "Well, it is something we have discussed doing, so if you think about it, you may come up with the answer on your own."
Emily sipped her coffee, shook her head and muttered, "Honestly, the number of things we've discussed doing in the last forty years would fill volumes."
He picked up his fork stating, "I have confidence in your deductive abilities, Emily," before he continued eating his dessert with gusto.
Emily shook her head again and also returned to her dessert. She would not let him get the better of her, but she would find out what he was plotting. She just needed a plan.
Two nights later, Emily sat at her desk staring down at her day planner. "Richard" was now written in her precise script across next Tuesday's date. She had yet to find out what on earth he had in mind for the day, and it was secretly driving her crazy, but the girls were due for dinner any moment and she needed to make sure everything was in order. So she closed the leather bound book, rose from the desk and went to check on dinner.
Moments later the doorbell rang and Richard hurried down the last few stairs in an effort to reach the girls before Emily. Tightening his bow tie as he opened the door, he greeted them both "Good evening," before focusing is attention on his granddaughter, "Do you have them?" he asked eagerly.
Rory patted her purse and smiled. "Of course I do."
"Well, come on," he instructed. Placing his arm around her shoulders, he steered her into his study and closed the door.
Lorelai, who was left standing beside the still open front door, shrugged, then closed the door and entered the sitting room. With her mother nowhere in sight, she walked over to the drink cart and contemplated her options.
Emily entered from the dining room surprised to find her daughter alone. "Lorelai, where's Rory?" her voice was a bit more harsh that she wanted, but so be it.
"Hello, to you too, Mom," Lorelai answered as she poured herself a glass of white wine. "Rory's in the study with Dad, some big secret it seems."
Emily rapidly closed the distance between her and Lorelai demanding, "So she's in on this? What do you know?"
"Whoa, take a chill pill there, Mom. I don't know anything." Lorelai held up her hands as she backed away from Emily and went to sit on the love seat. She watched as her mother glanced back in the direction of the study for a moment; then finally decided to pour herself a glass of wine. "What's going on?"
"Oh, your father has some big secret planned for next Tuesday and he won't tell me what it is," she explained trying to sound more relaxed and indifferent than she had a moment ago.
Lorelai grinned as Emily took a seat in on the sofa. "It's driving you crazy, isn't it?"
Emily took a sip of wine and regarded her daughter. "Not at all. Sometimes surprises can be nice." She didn't sound convincing even to herself.
"Ha! You can't fool me. You're dying to know what he's got planned?" she countered.
"Oh, alright, I'm curious, but I'm certainly not 'dying to know' as you put it," Emily explained.
"Uh, huh," Lorelai replied still smiling widely.
Emily shook her head and took another sip of her wine.
A few moments later, Richard and Rory entered talking animatedly, "… so then Paris offered to demonstrate on him."
Richard chuckled, "The poor boy."
"You're not kidding," Rory agreed as she sat down next to her mother on the loveseat. "Hi, Grandma."
"Hello, Rory," Emily replied.
Richard proceeded to the drink cart. "Soda for you, Rory?" he asked picking up an empty crystal glass. "I see everyone else has their drinks."
"Soda's good, thanks Grandpa," she replied.
Richard fixed Rory's drink and poured himself a glass of scotch.
Emily glanced between the two deciding to ignore her husband for the moment. "So, Rory how's school?"
"It's fine. Midterms are coming up, but it shouldn't be too bad," Rory answered.
"Good to hear." Emily nodded distractedly as she watched her husband take a seat next to her. He looked entirely too pleased with himself.
"So, Dad, how's the new business thingy going?" asked Lorelai.
Richard smiled at his daughter. "Good. Good. I'm looking at possible offices next week and I've already got several clients lined up."
"Wow, that was fast," Lorelai commented.
"Yeah, that was fast. It's only been a week, Grandpa," Rory added.
"Well, as they say, strike while the iron is hot?" Richard answered and then took a sip of his scotch just as the phone rang. "I should get that. It's probably Simons from Australia."
"Richard, dinner will be ready in just a few minutes," Emily reminded him.
"I know, dear. I'll be brief. Start without me if necessary," he instructed as he left the room.
"We certainly will not start without you," she called after him then turned her attention to Rory. "So, your Grandfather has enlisted your help in his plans for next week."
"Watch out, kid, she has ways of making people talk," Lorelai said in what could be considered a very bad Russian accent.
Rory gave her mother a sideways glare but otherwise ignored her. "Yes, he has, but I know it's supposed to be a secret."
Emily sat back a bit. "Well, I certainly wouldn't expect you to break a confidence."
Rory smiled at her Grandmother. "Oh, I know you wouldn't."
"I just need to know what to plan for, what to wear," Emily continued.
Rory laughed lightly. "You're as bad as Mom. I am not telling you what Grandpa has planned. That would defeat the whole purpose the surprise and this is going to be a fun surprise."
"Fun," Emily repeated. "What does that mean? Fun?"
Lorelai laughed at the way her mother said 'fun.' "It's not a foreign word, Mom. It means it's something you'll enjoy." She turned to her daughter, "Right?"
Rory nodded. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's something you will enjoy."
"Pretty sure?" Emily questioned. "That hardly sounds convincing."
"Stop pumping the poor girl for information, Emily," Richard proclaimed as he reentered the room. "You'll find out soon enough."
The maid entered right behind Richard and announced, "Dinner is ready, ma'am."
"Shall we?" Richard asked taking Emily's arm as she rose from the sofa and leading her into the dining room.
"I was not pumping her for information," Emily protested as they left the room.
Rory rose to follow them but Lorelai grabbed her arm to hold her back and commanded in a harsh tone, "Spill."
Rory sat back down. "No. I'm not telling you. You'll spoil the whole thing."
"This is good. I can tell. How can you keep me in the dark?" she demanded.
"Easy," Rory answered shrugging off her mother's hand and going in to dinner.
Lorelai grimaced then picked up her wine and went into the dining room resolved to find out the big secret before her mother did.
Emily rolled over and looked at the bedside clock again, 5:30. She'd been staring at it off and on for the past sixty-five minutes having slept a sum total of three and a half hours. Since the previous Wednesday, she had been trying unsuccessfully to discover what her husband had planned for today. Even Rory wouldn't tell her. The word 'fun' kept going through her mind and none of the connotations she associated with that word seemed the least bit enjoyable. Still, Richard had said it was something they had discussed. She glared at the peacefully slumbering man beside her and decided to get up. Clearly she wasn't going to be getting any more sleep.
Forty-five minutes later she excited the bathroom, showered, made up, and perfectly coiffed. Richard, still in his pajamas and robe, was in the process of selecting his clothing for the day. She watched him remove boxers and a pair of socks from his chest of drawers, then move to the closet and retrieve a tan sport shirt and a pair of brown slacks.
"So, will you tell me where we're going now?" Emily asked crossing her arms.
Richard turned. His wife was standing in the doorway to the bathroom wearing her robe and a very grim expression. He knew he had pushed her almost to her limit by not telling her where they were going, but the thought of actually being able to surprise her filled him with boyish delight. "You'll know when we get there," he answered with a grin.
She gestured to the pile of clothes in his hand. "Am I at least to assume that the dress for the day is casual?" she questioned in annoyance.
"You are correct, my love," he replied kissing her on the cheek as he passed her and entered the bathroom. "Oh, and you may want to bring something to pull your hair back."
Emily turned to ask more, but he had already closed the bathroom door. Shaking her head, her expression softened considerably. It was hard for her to be angry at him when he was clearly so excited. What had he said? Something to pull her hair back? This did not bode well. Dressing while Richard was in the shower, she selected navy blue slacks, a light blue shell, a darker blue cardigan and navy flats. She then went over to her vanity and opened the drawer where she kept the things she used to tie her hair back when she played tennis. 'Scrunchie' she thought she remembered hearing Rory say once when referring to a similar fabric covered elastic band. She selected a blue one that matched her sweater and placed it in her pocket hoping he was wrong and she wouldn't need it after all.
A few hours later, they were driving down the highway in Richard's silver Mercedes. Emily had been unable to get any further information out of him over breakfast and had resigned herself to letting him have his little surprise. As her husband watched the road and hummed along to his favorite aria from La Traviata, Emily took in his appearance. He had chosen a windbreaker instead of a sport coat; clearly they were going somewhere extremely casual.
She had given up reading the road signs and trying figure out where they were going by the time they finally turned off the highway, and so she was caught off guard by what she saw out the window. "An amusement park, Richard? We're going to an amusement park?" she asked her tone a mix disbelief and dismay.
Richard smiled at her as he pulled into one of the lanes to enter the parking lot. "You did agree to ride a roller coaster with me if you recall."
"I didn't think you were serious," she declared.
"Now, Em, it won't be that bad. It might even be fun." He reached out and took her hand. "I promise to hold your hand."
She softened as soon as she saw his face. "Well, I guess, I did promise, didn't I?"
He brought her hand up and placed a gentle kiss against the back of her fingers and he guided the car forward.
After parking the car, they entered the park and were directed to guest relations where Richard exchanged the tickets Rory had printed off the internet for VIP passes. Map in hand, he looked it over deciding what to do. "Let's see, we're here and the first roller coaster is over…"
"First?" Emily questioned.
"Well, the park has five roller coasters, but we'll see how you feel after the first one. Rory suggested a route for us to take. She thought if you liked the first one we might try a few of the others."
His wife eyed him incredulously but did not say anything.
"She did say we should probably skip the Whiplash," he added.
"Is that the name of the ride or the medical condition you have after going on it?" she quipped.
"According to Rory, both," he answered.
"We'll definitely skip that one," Emily replied. "Well, lead on. This is your adventure," she said gesturing broadly out toward the park.
Richard took her hand. "No, it's our adventure," he corrected then started off toward the ride Rory had suggested they try first.
A few minutes' walk led them to something called the Log Jammer. There they entered through the FastLane as they had been instructed to do and Richard showed their passes to a worker dressed as a lumberjack who waved them to the boarding area.
A large circular platform was slowly turning and people were climbing into and out of boats made to look like hollowed out logs. Another flannel clad worker directed them into a log; Richard took a seat in back with Emily sitting on a low bench between his legs. As their log headed out into the flume he bent his head down, nuzzling below Emily's right ear and planting a kiss on the side of her neck.
"Richard?" she admonished, but it wasn't really that harsh a protest and he knew it. Soon their log was heading up a steep conveyer belt and Emily's body pressed back against his. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her even closer.
"You're really enjoying this aren't you?" she asked.
"Absolutely!" he replied with gusto. "Aren't you?"
Her silence was answer enough. As their log reached the top, they began to wind around a series of turns and she made no effort to move away from their close contact.
They went over a series of short drops and curves and Emily remarked, "This isn't so bad."
"Not bad at all," he leaned down and whispered in her ear as they approached another steep conveyer belt that would take them back to the top of the cement hillside and into a short tunnel. From the pictures Rory had shown him he knew what came next.
They exited the tunnel at the top of a sheer drop. He felt Emily tense up as they plunged over the edge and she exclaimed, "Oh, my God!" drawing out the last word for the entire time it took them to reach the bottom where a spray of water rose up and around their log, but only a fine mist settled down on them. Emily's breath was coming in gasps and Richard felt his own pulse had quickened considerably but it felt marvelous.
By the time they arrived back at the loading and unloading area Emily had gotten her breathing under control and appeared calm and collected as she took a lumberjack clad worker's hand and exited their log. Richard however saw the sparkle in her eyes and knew that she was indeed having fun. As they departed the ride there was a stand selling photos that had been snapped as the logs descended the drop. He looked at the screen with their photo and decided instantly that he had to buy it.
Emily noticed him taking out his wallet. "What are you doing?"
"I'm purchasing our picture," he explained to her.
"Richard, I look ridiculous," she argued.
"You do not, you look adorable," he countered handing the clerk his credit card and smiling down at the cardboard framed photo he had just gotten in return. In it he was smiling broadly arms wrapped securely around Emily whose eyes were open wide in terror, her mouth forming a perfect O.
After riding a few smaller rides, including something called the Circus Wheel which reminded Richard of a Tilt-A-Whirl he had ridden once as a boy and a large swinging boat called the Dragon Swing, they approached their first roller coaster.
Emily paused and gazed up at the large wooden structure before them. "You're sure, this is the one Rory said we should go on first?"
"Yes, Ghost Rider, she assured me that it doesn't go upside down and that it would be the best one to start with," he explained as a train full of screaming riders sped by.
Emily squared her shoulders and replied, "I'm ready when you are," and with that Richard flashed their passes to the attendant dressed as a cowboy and they were on their way past all the people waiting in line. When they reached the turnstile at the start of the loading area, separate queues formed for each position on the train. He regarded the lines and though it was longer than the others, steered them into the one for the front seat.
As they neared the front of the line and were one ride away from boarding, Emily noticed where they were, "Do we really need to sit in the front?" she asked.
"I thought it would be more fun this way," he answered with a broad grin.
Once again faced with his childish enthusiasm, she couldn't argue, she could only smile indulgently and reassure herself that it would be over quickly. One look at the people getting off the ride told her that she probably should tie her hair back after all, so she removed the scrunchie from her pocket and pulled her hair into a low ponytail.
When it was their turn to board, Richard got in first and Emily sat next to him looking straight ahead. She only glanced up when a western clad attendant came by to secure her lap bar before their train pulled out of the station. They went through a slow wide curve, and then began the climb to the top of the first drop.
Richard looked sideways at his wife whose face was frozen in a blank stare, but halfway up she loosened her white knuckled hold on the bar in front of her and glanced his way. "I believe someone promised to hold my hand."
"Always," he replied looking her in the eye as her wrapped his large hand around her smaller one.
She gave him a small smile then turned back to the front as they crested the hill. When they plummeted down, she turned back and buried her face in against husband's broad chest gripping his hand like a vice.
Richard tried to reassure her as they went through a series of hills and turns gradually going a bit slower as the ride went along. She did open her eyes for the last part, but didn't lift her head up until they neared the station.
Once again, there were photos available when they exited the ride and, once again, Richard insisted on buying it even though Emily claimed that she looked even more ridiculous than the last time. She promised herself that these pictures would never see the light of day again.
After a surprisingly decent lunch at one of the park's actual restaurants, Richard took her arm and began guiding Emily to their next ride. He refused to tell her what it was, so she felt compelled to set some ground rules, "We just ate, so no roller coasters, nothing fast, nothing that spins, and nothing with a big drop, oh and I don't want to get wet." They had seen people eating lunch at the next table who were soaked to the skin.
He simply nodded in acknowledgement and walked up to a small building decorated with hearts and pictures of cupid all over the outside. 'Tunnel of Love' was written in flowery script on a red banner over the entrance.
"You've got to be kidding?" Emily protested.
"I believe it meets with your requirements, it's not a roller coaster, it's not fast, and doesn't spin, drop or get you wet," he answered with smug satisfaction.
She rolled her eyes and preceded him up the walkway and into the building shaking her head. Once inside the dimly lit structure there were individual boats the shape of giant swans each just big enough for two. A worker dressed as a devil directed them into their swan with a smirk and another dressed as an angel pressed a button which set them on their way down the artificial canal. Richard draped his arm over Emily's shoulders, but she sat with her hands in her lap completely ignoring him.
Once they turned the corner and were out of sight of the ride operators, he tried to pull her against him, and she resisted with a huff.
"Come on, Emily, get into the spirit of the ride," he coaxed pressing a kiss to her temple. Her hair was still pulled back and he took advantage of the access it gave him dropping a kiss to the spot just below her ear which he knew was one of her weak points. She squirmed slightly but that was the only reaction he got. He tried it again, this time sucking lightly on the spot then kissing it. She squirmed some more. He trailed kisses along the underside of her jaw while his free hand landed on her knee and began to travel up her thigh.
Emily reached down and removed his hand from her leg, then pushed his face away from hers. "Richard, I am not going to neck in here like a teenager."
"Why not? It's been quite a while since we necked," he responded.
"You know what those workers will think we're doing in here?" she demanded.
"Probably what I'm trying to do, but they'll think we're doing it whether we actually do or not, so what's the point in wasting our time just sitting here?" he reasoned as he pulled her closer. This time she didn't physically resist him, but she wasn't actively helping either. He lifted his hand to her face and gently turned it towards him while trailing his finger tips down the side of her jaw. "I haven't properly thanked you for going along with all this. I know it's not your idea of an enjoyable day."
Their eyes met in the faint light and she gave him a small smile. "It hasn't been so bad."
"Good, I'm glad," he said as he stroked his thumb across her cheek bone and drew her face closer to his.
Even in the dim light, she closed her eyes as their lips met. The kiss quickly went beyond what she had intended to allow, but stopping him was the last thing on her mind. When the need for air forced them to part for a moment, Richard would move to the spot below her ear or the hollow of her throat before reclaiming her lips, though he did sneak occasional glances at the canal ahead making sure that they wouldn't be caught in a compromising position. If they were, he knew Emily would absolutely kill him, and rightly so.
When he saw the light becoming marginally brighter he pulled away from her slightly and quietly explained, "I think we're approaching the end of the ride."
"Okay," she murmured back, as she moved away from him. She straightened her sweater and smoothed down her hair. Then she noticed a smear of lipstick on Richard's mouth and began to rub at it with her thumb. He chuckled as she tried to remove the dark pink smudge. "Stop that," she scolded, but it didn't deter his laughter. "Honestly." She removed the last of the lipstick just as the exit came into view.
As they emerged from the darkened building and back into the bright sunlight, Emily commented conspiratorially, "Well, at least they didn't have a camera on that ride."
Richard let out a throaty laugh before wrapping his arm around her shoulders and agreeing heartily, "Indeed."
They walked a ways past some sort of imitation river rapids ride that they decided not to try after quickly noting that it must have been the one to drench the people they had seen earlier. They did go on one called the Atom Smasher operated by a young woman dressed as a mad scientist. It had started off all right but then the centrifugal force created by the spinning of the arms on which the cars were attached pushed Emily across the seat and into Richard's side. Try as she might, she could not keep herself from being pulled forcefully back into him. Since all Richard did was laugh at her efforts, she gave up and was content to be squished against her chortling husband for the remainder of the ride.
When it finally came to a stop, he helped her out of their car chuckling as he smoothed down a stray wisp of her hair; she smacked him playful on the chest. "What are you five?"
"Not five," he answered giving her an affectionate swat on the behind as she walked to the exit, "fifteen maybe."
"Richard!" she admonished in surprise but she was unable to stifle the low, light laugh that caught in her throat and came out almost like a giggle.
As they wound their way back towards the front of the park they decided to skip two of the more daring roller coasters, one of which went upside down eight times in a mass of twists and loops and another that required you to stand up for the entire ride. They ended up in front of another wooden coaster called Colossus, which was a bit smaller than the one they had ridden earlier in the day.
Emily turned to Richard when he stopped in front of the ride. "Well?"
"Are you sure? You already fulfilled your promise. I don't want to force you to do something you don't want to." he reasoned.
She made a brief sort of breathy laughing "Hmmm" sound and replied, "Since when have I done anything I didn't want to do?"
He smiled down at her, "True, very true." He placed his hand on the small of her back and lead them passed the attendant dressed in turn of the century garb. The area they were currently in being designated the Country Fair Plaza.
They once again sat in the front car of the train, but this time he took Emily's hand as soon as they pulled out of the loading station. As they neared the top of the first hill he gave it a reassuring squeeze, and leaned down closer to her ear. "Going to keep you eyes open this time?"
Emily squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and chanced a glance in his direction. "We'll see."
Richard switched hands wrapping his left arm around her shoulders and holding her right hand in his. She leaned slightly against him and remained facing forward during the initial drop, forcing her eyes open half way down. The first hurdle cleared, she kept her eyes open during the remainder of the ride sitting silently in her seat. Richard however, was full of comments and laughter, exclaiming "Oohs!" and "Ahas!" and "Here comes a big one," or "Hold on," as the ride progressed. Clearly he was enjoying himself and while Emily wasn't exactly as thrilled with the ride as he was there was a certain adrenaline rush to the whole thing that she did find stimulating.
Richard purchased his third photo of the day as Emily removed the scrunchie from her hair and tried to comb some of the tangles out with her fingers.
"Anything else you would like to do, my dear?" he asked as he handed her the photo to put in her hand bag with the others, reminding himself once again to retrieve the photos when they got home. He knew if he left it to Emily, there was a strong possibility he would never see them again. He had promised to show Rory the pictures on Friday and he was sure Lorelai would enjoy them as well.
"Not particularly," she replied with a shrug and a look around.
Richard noticed a bank of food stands behind her. "What about some ice cream or cotton candy?" he offered taking her arm and walking over closer to the venders.
"No thanks, but you go ahead," she answered with an indulgent smile.
"I thought you were going to join me in some cotton candy?" he teased.
"As I recall, I offered to hold yours for you, not to actually eat it myself," she corrected playfully.
"I stand corrected," he replied with a grin.
They got in line and Emily noticed some sort of pastry covered with powdered sugar the person leaving the stand was carrying. "What do you suppose that is?"
"A funnel cake," the woman in front of them explained.
"Funnel cake," Emily repeated trying out the new idea.
Richard placed their order, "One cotton candy, and one funnel cake, please."
"Richard, we'll need something to drink."
"Ah, yes, and two bottles of water," he added.
They sat down to eat their snack at one of the umbrella covered tables in the main plaza. Richard took one bite of the cotton candy and declared it uneatable asking how he had ever been able to eat such a noxiously sweet concoction as a boy. Emily laughed as he deposited the entire mass of pink fluff in the garbage can and offered to share her funnel cake with him. They sat for a while enjoying the sunny late afternoon before deciding to head home.
On their way out of the park they walked past the giant double-decker carousel and Emily stopped to look up at it. The calliope music it played made her smile and she noticed that instead of just horses, there were all kinds of animals, lions, tigers, sea horses, giraffes, zebras, and more that went by too fast for her to take in. "Oh, I loved the carousel when I was a little girl," she remembered, eyes still glued to the turning ride.
Richard couldn't help but gaze adoringly at his wife as she watched the animals going up and down wistfully. "Well, than, I think one more ride is in order," he said leading her over to the entrance by the hand.
"Oh, don't be silly. We're much too old to be going on a merry-go-round," she stated flatly slowing down and pulling back on his hand.
"Nonsense," he countered urging her forward, "you're never too old."
She relented and climbed the stairs with him to the top of the carousel, eyes glued to the intricately carved animals adorning the platform. "They're just exquisite, aren't they?" she gushed as they boarded the ride. Heading over to an elaborate slay type seat.
"Oh, no," Richard said stopping her. "We're going to ride this the right way." He pulled her back towards the animals. "What about this one?" he asked indicating an elephant.
She shook her head; instead she selected a large giraffe. Richard helped her climb up into the saddle, and then took his place on a roaring lion next to her. A shy smile played at the corners of her mouth as the ride started up and 'Bicycle Built for Two' flooded their ears. The giraffe and lion going up and down at opposite times as the carrousel turned.
When the ride was over, Richard easily dismounted his lion which had stopped at the lowest point, and he grinned up at Emily who would clearly need assistance getting off of her giraffe. She placed her hands on his shoulders and saw the gleam in his eyes. With his hands on her hips he lifted her down slowly, being sure that her body was trapped between his and the animal she had ridden. Knowing there was no escape, Emily decided to strike first and catch him off guard this time, so the moment she was low enough she leaned in and planted a brief but searing kiss on his lips. Taken aback by her swift action, he lowered her to the ground quickly a stunned look on his face. He was met with one of his favorite sounds in the entire world, his wife's deep throaty peels of laughter. It was something he heard all too rarely, and it was worth being gotten just to listen to, especially when being gotten by her involved one of her kisses. This had definitely turned out to be a memorable day.
Three nights later, they were enjoying after dinner coffee with Lorelai and Rory in the sitting room when Lorelai suddenly put down her cup and saucer with a clatter and demanded, "Come on guys, I've waited patiently all night, – "
Rory interrupted, "You have not! You've been making bad jokes, stupid puns and not so thinly veiled references all evening long."
Lorelai turned to her daughter. "That is waiting patiently for me."
"Your mother's right, from anyone else it would have been indulgently over the top, but for her she really has been quite contained," Emily admonished.
Rory and Richard laughed.
Lorelai replied, "Thanks, Mom; though I think I've been slightly insulted in there somewhere."
"I on the other hand have been the picture of decorum." Rory asserted her hand over her heart in mock sincerity. "So come on Grandpa. You got the pictures didn't you?" she asked gleefully.
Richard immediately rose from his chair. "I did indeed, Rory. I'll just retrieve them from my study," he called over his shoulder on the way out of the room.
Emily rolled her eyes dramatically. "I wondered what happened to those. Damn, I knew I should have taken them out of my bag the second we got home."
Richard returned the three pictures in his hand. "Ah, why do you think I so thoroughly distracted you, my dear?"
Emily smiled demurely and looked down into her coffee cup to hide her blush.
"Eww!" Lorelai exclaimed. "Oh… just… ewwww…." She began muttering, "Too much information, too much information, too much information…"
Rory however, took the pictures Richard handed her and began to look through them. "Oh, these are adorable," she cooed.
"I'll have copies made for you if you like," Richard offered as he sat back down next to Emily.
"You most certainly will not," Emily challenged.
Lorelai stopped mumbling and clutched at the photos "Le'me see, le'me see."
"Stop with the grabby hands and I'll hand them to you nicely one at a time," Rory instructed slowly as if reprimanding a small child.
Lorelai huffed dramatically. "Fine."
Rory handed her the photo of her parents on the log ride. Lorelei's eyes got as big as saucers. "An amusement park? You went to an amusement park?" she asked in astonishment.
"Yes, Lorelai," her father answered, "we went to an amusement park."
"You never took me to an amusement park," she whined.
"We most certainly did take you to an amusement park," Emily snapped defensively, "several as a matter of fact. There are pictures of you on the carousel, well at least there used to be. And one time you insisted on riding some circular thing over and over and over until you finally got sick."
Lorelai cringed and turned to Rory, "Ah yes, the Swiss Twist a.k.a. the Vomit Commet, kinda blocked that one from the memory banks there."
Emily continued, "I just don't understand why you always act as though you had such a deprived childhood. We did have some good times you know."
Richard quietly placed his hand reassuringly on his wife's leg.
Lorelai took a deep breath and decided to placate her mother even though she didn't really remember anything with her parents as a good time. "Of course we did, Mom. I'm sorry."
"We even took you to that one with the half-dressed mouse." Emily was still in defensive mode.
"Half-dressed mouse? You mean Disneyland?" Lorelai questioned incredulously.
"Yes, that's the one," Richard affirmed. "I recall you particularly enjoying some ride with strange little dolls and an insipid song."
"That's It's A Small World, Dad, and when did we go to Disneyland?" she asked as politely as possible.
"Well, I think you were," he paused and looked to Emily for confirmation, "what… four or five."
Emily nodded, "It was just after your fifth birthday."
"Wow, maybe you need hypnotherapy to retrieve all those buried childhood memories," Rory teasing suggested trying to lighten the mood. "Ooh, look at this one," she changed the subject, handing her mother the photo where Emily's face was hidden against Richard's chest.
"Nice one, Mom. I particularly like the back of your head." Then she suddenly livened up asking excitedly, "Is that a ponytail?"
Before Emily could answer, Rory put the last picture in her mother's hand.
"You guys look like you had a really great time," Rory addressed her Grandparents.
"We did," Richard assured her. "Thank you again for all of your assistance, Rory."
"Yes, thank you, Rory, it actually was rather fun," Emily added offering her granddaughter a slightly forced smile, before turning her attention back to her daughter.
Lorelai looked up from the pictures to her parents sitting across from her and smiled with a hint of sadness in her eyes.
"Perhaps we could go back sometime, all four of us," Richard suggested.
"That would be nice, Dad," Lorelai replied.
"Yeah, that would be nice," Rory agreed. "We could even splurge and get those FastLane passes that I got for you Grandpa."
Lorelai turned to Rory, "But we mock the people with the FastLane passes?"
"That's only because we don't have them," Rory reasoned. "Just think how much fun it would be to breeze past all the poor schmucks waiting in line."
Lorelai smiled, "Ah yes, much better than being the poor schmucks like we usually are."
Richard turned to his wife, "Emily?"
"If that's what everyone wants," she agreed without enthusiasm, however her husband saw the light return to her eyes at the thought of spending an entire day with their girls. Then he looked across and noted that his daughter's smile seemed genuine too.
"Well, then that's settled," he declared with a broad grin. "This summer we will go to the amusement park again, all four of us."
Authors Notes: A big thank you to Melanie for her superb beta skills and to both UnaVitaSegreta and Melanie for being my sounding boards.