Saturday, July 09, 2005

Terrible Father Is Great At No Limits

Alexis and Cassie Johansen wonder why their father doesn’t spend any time with them. After all, they’re six year-old twins, fun and all the neighbors say they’re the best behaved kids on the block. However, dad Steve isn’t concerned with their day at Kindergarten -- he has coasters to design. No, he isn’t the next Ron Toomer, or even the static calculation engineer on the Zamperla Volare project. After getting home from his job as a telemarketer, Steve spends between 4 and 6 hours at the computer, designing what will be the next big ride on a computer program called NoLimits.

"I am so good at this game," said a distracted Johansen. "I mean, seriously, who would have thought to put a diving loop right there." When I noted that Stengel had used the diving loop/heartline combo many times Johansen said simply, "F*ck off." After regaining his composure he told ARN&R that some of his coasters are custom, some are unique, but all are worth his time.

Wife Mary told me that when the family is doing home activities Steve is at the computer and when they go out it has to be an amusement park. She said, "Paramount’s Great America. We live a God-damned hour from God-damned Great America. Sure, we can take the kids once, or maybe even a few times. But do we have to go almost every week and ride almost everything? He would rather marathon on the Vekoma Invertigo than have sex. Oh Jesus, I just used its model name, didn’t I? Please make this stop." Mary then broke down and cried on this reporter's shoulder.

However, the patriarch sees no end in sight. Steve told me that this week he is doing a "killer" recreation of the coasters at Idora Park. "Next week I am putting the finishing touches on what I call 'The Ultimate Coaster.' I have already trademarked the name because I know that parks will want to use it for their next big ride. Kinzel’s already calling me -- I swear!"

On my way out this reporter spoke briefly with Alexis and Cassie about their day at school. Cass did finger painting while her sister read her first "big girl" book. I sat each young lady down and told each that their father had stopped loving them and that they should consider him dead to them. When Cassie said, "Daddy sucks," I knew I had gotten through to them.