Yesterday I wrote about being trapped on a paddle-boat in the Tidal Basin with one crabby, one cantankerous, and one ailing kid as being a sort of existential hell.
In fact, the real hell on earth is any amusement park. I’ve always hated amusement parks, even as a child. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid them for all these years. I’m not quite sure what madness gripped me when I bought tickets to Six Flags for me and the three kids. I tried to convince my friend and my sister to come with us. My friend very politely declined. “Oh wow! Saturday? Ummm… Oh, SHOOT! That’s the day I clip my toenails. Otherwise…” My sister was far more blunt. She laughed in my face and said, “Six Flags? Oh thanks, but I’d rather douse myself in gasoline and set myself on fire. I’d rather bash in my own kneecaps with a baseball bat. I’d rather gouge my own eyeballs out with a melon baller.”
I totally understand these reactions. Life is scary and unpredictable enough as it is. I honestly don’t understand what possesses people (ME!) to actually pay a lot of money to do things like this to themselves:
In my case, it’s stupidity, plain and simple.
For example, I agreed to go on a roller coaster called “Apocalypse.”
“What did you do that for?” my husband asked incredulously, when I told him about it afterwards.
“Well, I didn’t see what it was going to be like until I actually did it,” I answered defensively.
“Did the name Apocalypse not give you a hint?!”
I lost some IQ points on that ride for sure. How bitterly I regret letting the kids ride that roller coaster before they even got a chance to take their PSATs! It felt like being flung violently down ten flights of stairs. And then being pummeled by a band of rabid gorillas at the bottom of the stairs. We were rattled about so hard that it felt like we were being punched repeatedly in the head by the so-called “headrests.” My legs were shaking as I staggered off the ride. I was sore for days afterwards. I resolved not to do any more scary rides.
By this time, we were all probably suffering from concussions and weren’t in our right minds, which would explain why the boys decided to go on “The Joker’s Jinx” roller coaster next. Once again, we failed to watch the ride first to see what it entailed. This nasty roller coaster starts by hurtling you right out of the gate with an acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds. After that, there are all kinds of loops and spins.
My son assured me that it was far worse than the Apocalypse. Here they are, returning after their ride.
Let’s zoom in, shall we?
We decided to regroup and be kinder to ourselves. The kids rode the bumper cars and then a gentle ride called “Pirate’s Flight.”
My oldest kept trying to persuade his little brother to go on more rides with him with names like “Mind Eraser.” Being an obliging sort of person, he would agree. Obliging, not stupid. By this time, he had learned his lesson. We would go check it out, he would take one look, and then turn right back around.
Finally we saw a ride that looked like we could all handle it. It had cute cows with rhinestone collars. No need to watch the ride in action. What could be more benign than cute cows wearing jewelry? The boys settled into one cow and my daughter and I into another. And then this happened:
It was truly awful. We staggered off the ride clutching our heads and bellies. We all had to sit down in stunned silence to recover from the horror. Everyone agreed that this was the worst ride of them all.
In the end, my teenager did manage to badger the eleven year old into going on one more roller coaster with him called “The Wild One”:
That was enough for us all:
The next morning the eleven year old said wonderingly, “I can’t believe I went on all of those rides.”
“Did you enjoy any of them?” I asked.
“No. Not really,” he said.
“So you probably wouldn’t ever want to go back?” I asked.
“Of course I would!” he answered promptly.
“Because it’s so awesome when the ride is over. You feel so relieved.”
Here’s the real punch line, my friends: I bought season tickets.