4/28/2008

Falling Down

I realize that I always talk about being old. I know that I am not that old, but yes, I suppose I am getting up there. Yesterday was no exception for me; I realize that no matter how in shape I am, I will feel youth slipping through my fingers for the rest of my life. We went to an amusement park for the Oldest's belated birthday celebration. We had a great time except for the fact that my daughter who is sick cut her teeth on a hugely savage roller coaster and we had to calm her down for a good spell afterward. She did not literally cut her teeth, but if I were using the idiom correctly I mean that she started out with the hard stuff. Not good. She was petrified.

Eraser Eater and the Oldest had gone on the cart before us and the Girl and I were next. When the boys got off the cart, Eraser Eater looked white as a sheet and the Oldest looked splotchy, much like he was crying or even say, weeping. He stumbled around trying to find the exit while Eraser Eater pleaded with me not to allow the Girl to go on it, the ride was too fierce. He almost broke down on the spot when I insisted that we remain where we were and he turned to let us face our doom. I saw his little form in the distance, downcast and horribly worried, slowly going to meet the Professor at the bottom of the hill.

At the first jerk of the coaster the Girl moaned. It all happened so fast. Instead of a pleasant ride (which it would have been for me because I love ridiculously thrilling rides), I felt like it was me, the mother bear, against this horrifying roller coaster, trying to eat my child. She slid down a little and I held her tight with one arm while holding on with my other arm. I used one strong runner leg to hold her legs in place while at the same time using the other to hold me still by pushing on the bottom of the cart. I spoke to her the whole time to get her through it. She was terrified. She cried a little when we went through a short tunnel, but soon enough the ride was over and she was carried out of the cart by her mother and safely put to land once at the bottom of the hill where the Professor stood, backpack over one shoulder.

Eraser Eater almost wept and lamented at the sight of us. He thought surely the Girl would not have made it. "I almost barfed!" he yelled in despair.

And why was the Professor at the bottom of the hill? That's a good question. He hates rides. He hates heights. He hates thrill anything. He can't even watch The Turn of the Screw (by Henry James) on PBS. I scare him continually when I come out in the lawn when he is mowing it. He always clutches his heart and shakes his head. This happens so regularly I would have thought by now, after ten years, he would come to get used to it. I have to think of creative ways to make my presence known without scaring the daylights out of the man. This is hard to do. Really, really hard. Actually, I am running out of ideas.

So---the man patiently waited while we went on rides all day long. Well, he went on the bumper cars, these old fashioned cars that drove very slow, and the carousel. And he ate cotton candy and popcorn. He did become obsessed with watching people, their feet dangling from some "torture device" (as he called it). Well, he could barely watch it. Finally I could stand it no more because he was obsessed with this drop tower ride that you can see from all areas of the park. He kept talking about it, kept watching the helpless people in lapbars and seats getting elevated up this huge pole to the very top to then be dropped and then caught again right before the ground met them head on. "That is CRAZY!" He kept yelling. "Why would anyone do that?! It gives me sweaty palms just thinking about it! That's it----I am sitting down on this bench to watch these sad people get dropped this time. I'm going to sit here and watch for a minute. Wait--come over here and sit down and watch this madness close up...."

I handed him the backpack. "I'm going on it," I said.

"What?! You are crazy!"

There was no line. I got right on. I sat there and stared at him, sitting on the bench. The kids got close to the gate and yelled at me things like, "Mom, if we never see you again, know that we love you!"

"I hope you don't die!"

"Are you sure this thing is safe?!"

The guy next to me who was to meet his doom said, "Are those your kids?"

"Yep. They think I'm going to die."

"Are you scared?" he said.

"No," I said, "just cold. It's really cold today."

"Yeah. I was really scared when I went on the ride before last. I had to prove to myself that I could do it. I dared myself. I just want you to know that when you drop, you can't breathe."

"Ok."

The coolest thing about the ride was that I saw trees as far as I could see. Then when I dropped it was the most elating experience. Instead of not breathing, I breathed a huge breath and laughed. This is what Alice must feel like when she is falling down the rabbit hole.

8 comments:

Mrs. Sinta said...

We saw a woman literally lose it on one of those drop rides in Utah, and she had to be taken out on a stretcher from the stress of it. Rides are not for everyone.

Uncle Joe said...

The way you describe your family is hilarious.
Everybody's different personalities really do come out at amusement parks.
The Alice analogy is, as the English say, Spot On!
YOU should ride the falling tower ride with my wife. She squeals so loud you can hear it all over the park. I'm sitting at the bottom laughing so hard I can barely breathe.
When the falling ride was over, was the Professor dressed as the Mad Hatter inviting you to a tea party?

Try this to get the Professor's attention while mowing:
Get a rubber snake and tie it to your ankle using a small length of fishing line.
Run directly in front of him screaming, "SNAKE!!!!!"

Morton said...

There's a ride at Disney's California Adventure called the Maliboomer (not sure how it's spelled) that works sort of opposite the one you described. I like it and so does The Beloved Spouse. But every time I'm standing in line for that ride, I look around me and realize something: I'm the OLDEST dude there!! My dad always said that getting old sucks, but it does beat the alternative.

Groovy Mom said...

You could stop bathing and then the Professor could just smell you coming.

I know, I should charge for this stuff. ;-)

Bee Repartee said...

I was 7 when I went on my first Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. My first and I LOVED it. When I eventually make it out there we will go and be Alice together.

A Glass-Half Empty said...

Why not go skydiving?

An old friend

doozie said...

Maybe I should go on one of those dropping rides, as a desensitization technique. I've always had nightmares about free falling

Aunt Jo said...

I love that ride!!

I love fast rides, but cannot tolerate spinny rides in my old age.

What did your family say when you were done??