One of the highlights of our two weeks in Connecticut was our visit to the Mystic Aquarium and its Institute for Exploration, a pavilion dedicated to the voyages of Robert Ballard, including his search for the Titanic. The exhibit features an impressive large-scale replica of the mammoth ship, and a film in which Ballard compellingly describes its final hours. In a shocking lapse of judgment, I sat through this film with Small Fellow.

Daddy, why did the boat hit an iceberg? Why couldn’t it miss the iceberg? Why did all the water go into that hole? Why did the water make the ship sink? Why did the ship break? Again: Why did it hit that iceberg? And, finally, the inevitable: Daddy, how did all the people get home?

Well, all the people went onto the lifeboats we saw on the model in the other room. Remember all those little boats I showed you?

OK. ALL the people got on the lifeboats?

. . . Sure.

SF was skeptical, to say the least, that those few boats could have taken everyone off the ship. (Bright side: He’s not stupid. Where was he when they launched the ship?)

And the boy’s Titanic fixation, sad to say, did not pass quickly. Our visit the next day to Middlebury’s Quassy Amusement Park didn't help. For along with its splendid kiddie coaster, train ride, water slide, and lakeside beach, the park also regrettably offers "The Giant Titanic Slide," a three-story-tall inflatable mockup of the great ship, titled at a 45-degree angle to send good little boys and girls plummeting to the briny depths. Is that the boat that hit the iceberg?

A few days later, a friend offered us a motorboat ride across a warm, placid lake. Daddy, will there be icebergs?

No, there are only icebergs way up north, nowhere near we live.

Why did that boat hit an iceberg?

. . . Listen, do you want to ride in the boat or not?

July 15, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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