To be honest, I’ve always been scared of roller coasters (I guess that’s the point). But the exhilaration of the ride (even if I refused to take my hands off the safety bar) and the bragging rights afterward were always worth it. In recent years, however, the thrill wore off; well, not wore off so much as turned into relief that I was still alive at the end of each ride.
And I’m not even talking about the million-miles-per-hour, 200-foot-drop, upside-down-inside-out roller coasters that were built for adrenaline junkies — or ten-year-olds with absolutely no fear. No, I hyperventilate just watching commercials for those roller coasters. What I’m talking about are the more classic rides. My roller coaster mojo is gone. You know how the signs always say you need to be this tall to ride? I had reached the point where I was crouching down, attempting to look too short. No dice.
My roller coaster intervention, as it were, happened some years ago. B. and I were at a Six Flags amusement park, and I was facing the Colossus, a giant classic roller coaster with peaks as high as the Rockies (okay, maybe not). I really, really didn’t want to go on it, but I really, really wanted to prove to myself that I could (ah, pride is such a double-edged sword). So we rode it. And as we climbed up, up, up the first peak, my heart sank down, down, down into my stomach. At the top of the peak, the coaster made its stop. At that moment, I wanted to get off the ride. Seriously. At that moment, I also thought that I was about to die. Seriously. The rest of the ride passed in a blur — probably my life passing in front of my eyes.
But, rather than admit defeat (there’s that serpent pride again), I then wanted to ride one of the park’s smaller roller coasters. How bad could that be? Did I mention that it was named the Psyclone? Notice the spelling. Not Cyclone, like the classic Coney Island ride — Psyclone, as in crazy. Should have been a clue.
But no. In we climbed and off we went. The coaster’s claim to fame was that it was built of wood, like its Brooklyn namesake. So with every curve and every climb, we were slammed from side to side on the plank seats. The more we slammed, the unhappier I got. And the unhappier I got, the more I was certain that this was going to be my last roller coaster ride. Because — wait for it — I was sure I was going to die.
Finally, the coaster pulled into the unloading zone, and I sat there, in tears and in need of a paper bag to breathe into. And then, the moment of truth. Directly in front of me, an adorably demonic six-year-old boy popped up and looked at me in disdain. “Hey, lady,” he said, “what’s the problem?” Shown up by a little kid. (Insert laugh track here). I accepted my defeat gracefully and gratefully. It was time to leave my coaster career (such as it was) behind.
But give up chocolate and old movies? Not a chance. Give up Springsteen concerts? No way. I may have given up the roll — but never the rock.
ⓒ 2015 Claudia Grossman