Oh, how they mocked. But my momentary cowardice still allowed me to retain a shred of dignity, and so was worth indulging. Because if I'd gotten on that ride, my friends would have actually heard me scream. Like a little girl. Like a little girl who just woke up because somebody licked her foot. Like a little girl who just woke up because somebody licked her foot, and then when she turns on the light there's an evil clown sitting in the middle of her bedroom, eating her pony.
There's no comebacks from the clown-pony scream.
I knew from experience this would be my response to the tracked hellion. Fredericton, New Brunswick had taught me that.
That time it was a fair, or an exposition, or whatever the hell you call the gathering where the Lottery villagers eat fried beaver tails, drink beer and compare brood mares and quilts before they select the heavy stones and pass 'round the black-spot bag. We were in town visiting my new bride's family. As we walked through the small-scale carnival rides, I made a resolution. I would not give in to my completely irrational fear of funrides. These Fredericton rides were tiny things compared to the whirling articulated skyscrapers of a major park. Lovely Wife adores funrides. I will man up.
The first one was one of those parachute sumbitches. Perfectly reasonable, two people sitting in a car suspended by some sort of ball joint. When it rotates in one direction, you get a bit of a centrifugal tilt out. Then, of course, they tilt the goddam thing to 45 degreees, so you're pushed to the side, and you're way the hell up --
-- but I held it together. Even when I looked into the center of the machine's axis, from my vantage point at the top of the arc, and saw that they'd replaced on of the gears with a radial tire.
That said, Ride A involved height, movement, a sickening feeling of "just about to be thrown out" and a dodgy looking safety bar. I figured I was in the clear. Ride B -- the exact brand-name of which I have never discovered -- looked to be cake. Low to the ground. No height factor whatsoever. Bigger cars, two sitting across from two, each car suspended from above to a radial arm. I thumbnailed out the operations in my head. The ride itself spun, wheel-like, and then the cars probably spun horizontally on some smaller axis. I should be able to handle that.
So, as Madonna's "Like a Virgin" echoed murkily over loudspeakers never designed to convey music, Lovely Wife and I climbed aboard. Bar down, two twelve-year-olds sitting across, piece of cake. Most of the riders on this one are kids. I am encouraged.
Gears grind, sparks fly, and we're off. Round and round, like a merry-go-round. No worries. Then our car itself begins to spin. Ah, bit disorienting, and there's that nasty "about to be tossed" feeling, but nothing I can't --
Then the individual arms begin to rise and fall. Well. Okay. This is --
-- and then the cars themselves tilt. They tilt 90 degrees. I am now spinning vertically perpendicular to the ground, and rising and falling, and spinning horizontally.
There's a moment in every Lovecraft story, when a feckless human catches a glimpse of Cthulhu, where said human's reaction is supposed to be some sort of sanity-shattering meltdown far beyond what you're capable of even imagining. This is a terror that kills. We struggle to visualize such a reaction and necessarily, as we are sane and live in an orthogonal universe, come up short.
My wife knows.
It's always a matter of debate, what was the most humiliating moment of my meltdown. I hold that it was when I screamed "I DON'T WANT TO DIE LISTENING TO MADONNA!" Lovely Wife prefers the bit where, legitimately concerned at my terror, she yelled "Hold my hand!"
At the prospect of loosening my white-knuckled grip from the safety bar, I screamed back at her, straight into her face: "FUCK YOU! YOU HOLD MY HAND!"
Afterward, the various twelve-year olds regarded me with pity. Pity. Do you know how far you have to fall in an adolescent's eyes before you drop below scorn? They're hard-wired for scorn. The evening ended with my wife actually taking me to the petting zoo for a bit, to collect myself, before we headed home.
The goats helped.
All this to give you some context. Because when I read this:
A girl's feet were cut off Thursday when a free-fall thrill ride malfunctioned at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park in Louisville, Kentucky, police said.
-- I need to inform you that blogging may be slow for a bit, as I will be under my bed, in a fetal position. For a while.
The queasiness of my irrational fear's sudden gripping return is leavened somewhat by the "ah-ha" of "I KNEW it", but it's a hollow moment. A bit like your irrational fear of zombies being validated by the appearance of actual zombies at your window.
In the comments, your completely irrational fears. The ones that end you.
Oh, and here's the "Tower of Power" in question:
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