my michigan adventure

Seventeen years ago I was a high school junior.

I was taking physics.  The class was all seniors except for me and two other junior girls.

Each May, Michigan Adventure–an amusement park here in West Michigan–has a “Physics Day”.

Each May, my teacher, Mr. Janssen, took the physics class to participate with other area schools, but my junior year, we got rained out.

May of my senior year rolled around.  Physics Day was during the seniors’ last week, and I got it in my head that I should be able to go.

Throughout my four years of high school, I had Mr. Janssen for three math classes and for physics.  We were tight.

(Ok, if you know Mr. Janssen, you are rolling on the floor laughing at that statement.  I simply do not know how to describe him other than and introverted math teacher with an incredibly dry sense of humor. Who stands in front of class tossing the chalk in the air saying, “ah, umm…well…” when he is answering questions because he is so much smarter than you are, dummy. But he would never say that.  And he smirks, but never all out smiles.  I loved that man.)

Anyway, because I loved Mr. Janssen, and for some reason I decided we were tight (which he found humorous.  shut up, he did), I went to him and begged requested that he get me out of class for the day and let me come along to Michigan Adventure with his physics class.

I totally expected him to say no.

I mean, it’s not like I would be doing the packet of physics problems…I wasn’t in the class.  It would be nothing but a super fun day off from school for me.

There was zero educational value in having me go.

Also I was absolutely math dumb.  I, to this day, do not know how I even passed physics.

But he said yes.

And this is when I realized I had no idea who was in the class or if I would even have fun.

It just so happened that about a day after he said yes, I had to go to his classroom for something for a teacher.  I walked in to what happened to be the hour he had his physics class–mostly juniors, but some seniors.

And ALL dudes.

Not one girl in the class.

What had I gotten myself into?

But I wasn’t going to back out of a free day to ride roller coasters instead of being in school.

So on Physics Day I showed up to the bus, climbed those black tread steps, and stood at the front surveying the possibilities.

Which of these lucky dudes was going to be my new best friend for the day?

As I made my way down the long bus aisle, I flashed a smile, gave the obligatory “dude nod” to a few of the senior guys, did the finger point at a couple fellas who had zero chance of having me sit down, and finally stopped next to a seat with a junior in it that I knew a little bit through mutual friends.

He smiled back and I said, “move over, Curly.  You’re my friend for the day.”

He shoved over to the window and I plopped down next to him.

Before we were even out of the parking lot, I broke the ice with the big question the answer to which would set the tone for the rest of our day: “So, do you have a girlfriend?”

“Sort of.”

“How do you ‘sort of’ have a girlfriend?”

“Well, she doesn’t go here.  She lives 45 minutes away.”

And from there we chatted for the entire hour drive to the amusement park, deemed ourselves “Coaster Buddies”, and made let his lab/project partner do all the work on the packet problems.

Curly was one of the nicest guys I have ever met.

We became super great friends very quickly.  I met his girlfriend, Trisha, and loved her too.

Fast-forward approximately 14 years.

New Year's Eve 2009: Ben & Trisha with pregnant-with-Eddie Me (don't worry that is non-alcoholic) &"Curly"

I’m so glad Mr. Janssen said yes to my going on the Physics Day field trip sixteen years ago.


About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. T’was meant to be. That is all.

    • so true! some day I will tell more of the story. It was another seven years after that before we started dating.

  2. Swoon.

    Love it.

  3. I just love a happy ending.

    • the story from there to here has lots of weird ins and outs…but yes. happy ending 🙂

  4. This post just makes me smile. Trisha is great, isn’t she?

    • Oh yes. She is one of my very best friends in the world. I’ll have to post more of our story someday. Cort and Trisha dated for a LONG time. In fact, I helped him look at engagement rings…for HER!

  5. what a super cute story! yay for rollercoasters! 🙂

  6. aw, how sweet! ah yes, deer park funland. i have been there once or twice in my day as well.

    • YES! Deer Park Funland!!! That is what it was when I was little and went with my brownies group! Ha!

  7. yup, they used to have a bunch of deer, and in a gumball machine, little pellets, and for 25 cents (or whatever it was, probably 10 back then) you could buy a handful of pellets and feed them to the deer. i haven’t been there in a million years, i don’t know if they still have the deer. probably not.

    • I don’t think they do. In high school they didn’t have the deer anymore, but they did still have the empty pens. weird.

  8. What a great story!

    • thank you! it’s funny because at that moment 16 years ago, i would have NEVER guessed I was sitting next to my future husband!

  9. I lovelovelove stories of when people first met! This is absolutely adorable. Destiny was everywhere that day!

    • It so was! And I’m glad you lovelovelove stories like this because I am going to try to tell a new chapter in our love story each week. I want it written down for our kids 🙂

  10. I love this story. And introverted physics teachers. And the nickname Curly.

    Win. Win. Win.

  11. What a great story! Much cuter than how I met my husband at the bar ; ) I grew up going to Michigan Adventure (didn’t it used to be called Deer Park waaay back in the day?) and haven’t been back in years – how cool that when you take your kids there you’ll be able to tell them that story!

    • It SO was Deer Park waaaaaay back in the day. Like when I was in elementary school. And yes, when the boys are older, we can take them. There is even a water park there now!

  12. Oh man, this is cute and your description of good old Mr. Janssen is spot on). I lasted one day in his calculus class! 🙂

    • I never even took Calc. I dropped Pre-Calc at the semester. He actually tried to talk me out of it. Even though he knew what kind of crap math student I was. Loved that guy.

  13. That is a story that should be said around a Michigan bonfire…with s’mores of course


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