"Come on, ride the train . . . "

I always found it fascinating that you could tell how old a tree is by counting the number of rings on it [by the way, apparently the study of tree rings is called dendrochronology]. Of course, in order to accomplish this, you have to cut the tree wide open and kill it. But at least you can do something to figure out it's age.

I always thought it a tad disappointing that you can't do the same with human beings. No, not cut them open with a chainsaw, but instantly tell how old they are. Just last year I went to a rated-R movie [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for you Focus on the Family types] and the girl behind the ticket counter asked to see my ID. "Are you serious?" I asked. She didn't say a word. Later I told Kelly that I couldn't believe she thought I was only seventeen. "Actually Steve,"she said, "if you were seventeen you could've gone in. That girl must have thought you looked sixteen." Brilliant. I'm closer to forty than to sixteen.

But I think I might have found a viable litmus test to figure out someone's age: take them to an amusement park and see how they react. Yesterday afternoon, Kelly and I took-off work a little early to use some free passes to Paramount's Kings Island [why isn't "Kings" spelled with an apostrophe?"]. What I discovered during our four hours there shocked me to the core. It was my tree ring moment, and even worse than the movie incident:

I think I'm old.

We decided that we were going to take it easy at first and walk around. We first rode the log floom or, how you might know it, "The Wild Thornberry's River Adventure." That cooled us down a bit. Then we worked are way past the Beast [yes, I understand that's blasphemy to you hardcore roller-coaster people, but work with me here], and ended-up in what used to be the old Coney Island area of the park. As we walked past the Zephyr, that ride with swings that goes round and round, Kelly suggested we go. I didn't worry about looking un-manly for riding this, but rather went along happily to enjoy the experience.

Well, that's when it happened. As the ride stopped I stood up and felt sick [spoiler alert: no chunks will be blown in this post]. I wasn't so much "throw-up"sick, but my head was spinning and I felt dizzy. Yep, after that I was done for the day. Fortunately, so was Kelly, so I didn't have to wuss out all by myself. We spent the rest of the time watching rides and doing all the "old people" activities like going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and riding the train. Honestly we had a wonderful time, but this has got to be a turning point in life.

Just a few years ago Kelly and I took a vacation to Cedar Point and spent three days riding rides. No problems at all. But then on our last trip to PKI [that's what everyone in Mason calls it] I got a little queasy after a full morning and afternoon of riding. And then there was yesterday. I looked around at all these parents taking their kids on rides and wonder if I'd be able to do it someday. I wonder how many of them fake enjoying the ride to give their kids the experience. Makes me respect them even more.

So even though I look sixteen, my amusement part rings show that I'm fifty-two. Maybe I should be looking forward to retirement.