September 12, 2005

Don't Take Me For a Ride

I don't care much for amusement park rides. I used to, as a very young girl, but they don't agree with my current hag-status.

While attending a great little country fair this weekend, I believe I figured out what the problem is. The adult rides today are clearly created for people who don't mind temporarily losing their minds, possibly their stomach contents, and occasionally - as proven over and over every summer - their very lives. Since I'm not up for any of the above, I bow out gracefully from this mode of entertainment.

Let's go back to my beginnings to put this into the correct perspective.

As mentioned in prior writings, my dad frequently took my three sisters and me to amusements parks on weekends. I remember eagerly anticipating this activity every single time he announced where we were headed. We'd load into the car ... busily arguing over who gets the window seats ... and drive, sometimes for hours in traffic, to our destination.

The parks that most stand out in my mind were places like Uncle Milty's in Bayonne NJ, Palisades Park (also in NJ), Asbury Park (NJ), Coney Island in Brooklyn, Freedomland (which was way ahead of its time) in the Bronx, and Rye Beach, NY.

Rides that I loved most were the standard Ferris wheel, the caterpillar, the flying airplanes, the Dumbo-type elephants, the carousel, the fun house and the bumper cars. Oh and who could live without "the whip." This was a rather slow moving car-on-track system which would whisk you around the ends of the oval quite suddenly and at breakneck speed. I swear, this is how the term "whiplash" came to light. Still, as a kid, this was great fun.

The fair we went to didn't feature any of the mega rides that are all the rage today, after all, they're running on a tight budget. Most of the attractions at a country fair involve animals and foods. However, there were a lot of kiddy rides and a couple of big people* rides.

After we parked the car and walked for what seemed like thirty five miles to the gate, we first spotted a little-kid roller coaster. I couldn't wait to get close enough to see the looks of joy on the children's faces as they cleared the first big hill. Big, of course, is relative. It probably rose a whopping ten to twelve feet, if that. Still those facial expressions were priceless. One brave little guy even threw his arms up in the air as the train of cars descended. Cute stuff.

I told Ed as we were standing there "Now this is my speed." He chuckled and said, "I know dear ... in fact ... you probably like those big painted elephants going up and down over there too!" I turned and my eyes got big and glassy like when you find a twenty dollar bill in the laundry pile. I smiled from ear to ear and yelled "YES... I used to LOVE those," dragging him closer to the ride.

The thing about the kiddy rides that I totally resent is that they don't allow big people on them. Sheesh. Initial embarrassment aside, I would have thoroughly enjoyed going on a couple of those kiddy rides. I'll bet more than a few other adults had similar thoughts; just a hunch.

We moved around the fair and enjoyed all the sight and sounds, eventually arriving to the big people rides. Ugh. Having worked and hung out at the boardwalk in Seaside Heights NJ many years ago, I learned a thing or two about standing near these rides.

Firstly, don't stand too close if the ride is one of those "up in the air, now show me your lunch" rides; I'd rather be shat upon by a buzzard than puked on by a 17 year old boy with nothing between his ears. Secondly, mind the ground for small change. If I still had all the coins I found on the ground around the big people rides, I could probably buy a new car with many cool options. Well maybe not, but I could at least fill one with gas.

I don't want to lose my lunch, my money or my life. I want to ride the kiddy rides, darn it. I want to be able to wave to my beloved from the big elephant and I want to push the buttons on the airplane that make the propeller spin. I want to pick out a cool horse and grab at the brass ring, not giving a darn who sees me fastening the saddle belt so I don't fall off. I would like very much to spin the teacup at my own speed ... or maybe not at all ... insuring that once off the ride, I wouldn’t wobble around in a drunken stupor.

Sometime around my tenth year or so, dad had taken us to an amusement park and we were allowed to go on several rides. I was finally tall enough (yay) to go on one of the big people rides called the round-about. I think there's a totally different version now, but back then, at this particular park, the round-about was a ride with individual cars on an inclining-then-declining track; each car spun independently in circular motion, at the same time heading fast, fast, fast around the length of the track. The ride was indoors and surrounded by flashing lights and loud music. It was a hot day and I would imagine we had been snacking on and off for hours. (keep reading ... I didn't barf)

My two older sisters and I boarded the car and were the only ones on the whole ride at the time. I took the seat at the inside of the track and my sisters both smushed in next to me. A heavy bar was pulled across us and locked into place. Not two minutes into the ride, our car spun wildly, the forcefully pushing my sisters against me and pinning me to the edge of the car. I was pretty much a string bean of a kid back then and I couldn't move a muscle. I felt like I was losing my breath and was horrified. I let out quick little pathetic screams, but not the type that said, "Oh this is great fun!" Not at all.

The lights inside this hot building became a blur of color, and the man running the ride thought we were having such a great time that he sped the thing up even more. I could feel myself trembling and realized I could no longer make out the happy faces of my parents as they stood to the side watching us "have fun." In my kid world, I thought I was simply going to die - die spinning out of control no less. This would never do. Finally, the insanity stopped and my sisters helped me off the ride. It wasn't until they all saw my milk-white face that they realized I hadn't had fun at all.

That incident didn't stop me from enjoying many more kid rides in the future, but it caused me to pause and watch carefully before boarding the bigger, faster rides ... sorting out just how much "fun" I would actually be having.

Eventually, a sister I will not name**, decided it was her job to tell me just what a "goofy chicken shit" I was for not going on the big people rides anymore. Huge surprise - that was around the time when I stopped looking forward to amusement park outings.

The long and short of it is this. If I'm handed a helmet before getting on a ride, I'm going to think long and hard about boarding.

If it takes them 20 minutes to strap me in with a series of bars, latches and foam-padded braces - no thank you.

If they made a point to post a sign warning me that if I have a heart condition, asthma, sprains, strains or hang nails then I shouldn't get on board, I shall run the other way - find me at the Sno-cone stand.

And if you're with me at the park and YOU decide to go on such rides ... don't you dare be sick or die because I swear to god I'll ... I'll point and say "I told you so" in very loud tones.

* big people rides - as a very little girl, my daughter made the distinction between children and adults by referring to those over 15 as "big people." I loved this innocence so much that I often use the phrase today. Even at 19 now, she sometimes makes the same distinction.

** a sister I will not name - this refers to my oh-so-special sister who was hell bent at any point in time to fill me with embarrassment, misery and self-doubt. Thank you, sistah.


Anonymous Simply Coll said...

I too have never been a fan of the "big people rides".. just never enjoyed them. My kids, on the other hand, loved them, especially my youngest son. He particularly loved roller coasters.. the bigger and faster, the better. I was always so relieved when the ride ended and he staggered off. (usually asking in the same breath if he could go one more time)

2:49 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

I love the dangerous rides, although I've never gotten sick on one, even when completely drunk. The scariest ride I've been on was one that looked like a spaceship that spun in vertical loops. What made it particularly scary was they locked the bars in place when I had been waiting awhile for the ride to fill and had my legs propped up. I had to brace myself with my arms to keep from flying out. During one part they froze the ride upside down and I spent what felt like thirty seconds doing a handstand several stories up.

If you want to ride the kiddie rides, just go to the carnival dressed as a little girl complete with pigtails and a giant lollipop. If they question your age, throw a crying fit and say everyone makes fun of your pituitary disorder. If that doesn't get you advanced to the front of the line, make sure your lolli has a sharpened edge and decapitate the carny. Don't worry - little girls rarely go to prison.

3:02 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...


I'm with you about the big people rides. I won't go near roller coasters (or anything high for that matter (like a Ferris Wheel)) and I don't really like going to the amusement park here in Minnesota. Every summer people ask, "Have you been to Valleyfair yet?" and I just groan. There is a balloon ride at this park that is for kids, but they do let adults on it. I like that ride.

Water rides are okay too, if they don't go up in the air.

I won't call you a chicken.

Buck, buck, bucking over here in Minnesota. - Beth

5:59 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

I used to love the dangerous rides and went with my kids. But somewhere about a decade ago I didn't like them anymore. But, like you, I would really like to go on the kiddy rides. At least you can do that at Disney World.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I must say I am a fan of the roller coasters and the big drops into nothing. However, my first love is now the log flume.
We took my (then) four year old son to Sea World and took him on the log flume there. The whole time he was on the ride, he had this continuous giggle that he tried to push through a terrified/excited ear to ear grin. We got done with the first big drop (he even put his hands up) and he yelled "This is the fun-most EVER!"

His mom took him on it a second time so she could share in the fun, too.

The county fair rides are great because they bring me back to a simpler time, and for an evening, you can pretend you're not in the hustle of modern times.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

This post right here just confirmed further for me, that you and I would have a rip roaring time together...minus the big people rides that is lol

I've no stomach for those twirly things...or the up and down things...ferris wheels? yeah, I can cope with that.

I sometimes feel bad that my kids are trying to get me on these rides, then they laugh at me, cos I refuse to. Pah.

You also brought back another 'fond' memory for me. When the boys were a lot younger, they got on one of those rides, it was called the Roulette wheel. The seating arrangements side by side were - Dad, 4 year old, 6 year old. Thing starts spinning, Dad gets pressed against the outer rail, 6 year old is also on his way to being pressed there....4 year old is screaming in the middle cos he's getting squished. Not a lot of sound coming out...amazing facial expression though. They stopped the ride so he could fall into mummy's arms trying to get his breath back. lol Poor baby.

8:45 PM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

You have brought back the horror of my childhood. I got to go to places like THE STEEL PIER in Atlantic City, Hersey Park in PA, Wildwood NJ, Cape May and every carinival or circus that came through town. Did I want to go...NO! My father loved it all and we got to go for the fun of it. Oh don't get me wrong..I loved the noise and thrills but I hated the rides. My Dad decided at the tender age of five I should go on the Roller Coaster...Scared the beegeezus out of me. The feed him junk food and spin him for an hour or so was a recipe for disaster. So to say the least...I hate big rides. Get headaches everytime I go on one....WHY the go on them you ask...I have kids who love them. I am a gentle soul who doesn't force the issue...they do. So I am cursed with having to spin me, dump me and just plain bedevil me the rest of my life with BIG RIDES.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

oh my! So true. As a kid I loved loved loved the big people rides. The older I got, the more I started to sound like my mother. "What if the bar doesn't latch" "what if the coaster stops in mid spin" "what if the coaster DOESN'T stop when it's supposed to?"

Needless to say I did my internship at a theme park and never ONCE took advantage of the "employees get in free to ride the rides" benefit.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Oh my you bought back memories. I adored those scary rides right into my 20s, now in my 40s the merry go round freaks me out! I remember as a kid going on the big kids rides, and the foloowing day my legs would be covered in bruises from being thrown around LOL.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

As a kid, I rode the "Finnish Fling," a big barrel that spins and you stick to the wall, then the floor drops out.

I puked and puked. I puked for, swear to god, 6 months. Every time I rode in a car, puke. Any other ride, even a ferris wheel, pukity puke.

I finally got over it, now I only blow groceries when I ride the "Mogen David."

1:50 AM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

I haven't been on a Big peoples ride since I was about 26 and I went on the Spider. When I got off the ride Both my son and his Father puked and I wasn't far behind. I must have been an alarming shade of green because the Carney that was manning that particular ride actually walked me over to a bench, bought me a bottle of water and told me "You really shouldn't ride this one again, Hon." Me fighting the bile reserve now in my throat was thinking..."No shit, Hon" Needless to say I've just not been a fan since! Here's to the kiddie rides! :)

2:07 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said... of my life's ambitions is to tour the world's Roller Coasters. I'm all up for the nausea and 60 second thrill.

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been around...small town carnivals, Seaside Heights, Rye, Great Adventure, Coney Island and Palisades Park as a wee tot...but the scariest ride I ever went on was "It's a Small World" in Disney World. Those smiling singing robots scared the hell out of me. They still do just thinking about them.

7:10 AM  
Blogger sands of time said...

I have to admit even at my age i love the big scary rides still.

12:09 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I have a love/hate relationship with such rides. I don't like heights but I love speed - I remember going on the Corkscrew at Valleyfair 5 times one summer. The first 3 times I was praying like crazy. The 4th time I daringly opened my eyes (when I was upside down, of course, freaked me out). The 5th time was nothing.

The problem is that I am too big to be on the big people rides. The latches won't work and let me tell you, it is embarrassing to have a carny tell you that you're too fat to be on the ride. So I don't go anymore.

However, I did just ride the carousel two weeks ago when Keem and I went to Como Zoo. That is the most fun ever! I could ride on those all day.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Ah, Your Weariness. I could read you all day.

For my money, the Ferris Wheel is the scariest. I went on a HUGE on in Chicago and damn-near soiled myself.

The rollercoasters I rode seemed tame by comparison.

3:02 PM  
Blogger jpr said...

I hate carnival rides. The spinny ones make me puke and the fun ones freak me out (Im a mechanical engineer and I KNOW they aren't safe)
Amusement Parks are another matter

6:21 PM  
Blogger dan said...

i like riding the waltzer.

great memories, c.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous John said...

I really enjoyed reading this Carol. :) You are so interesting!

7:05 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

I don't like em. Never have. Never will.

I'll be in the haunted house or the bumper cars.

7:10 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I have never been much for the big people rides either, though I do love Bumper Cars. I never got on a roller coaster until I had children of my own - and then only once.

Then I went to Costa Rica and did the zip lines - so go figure. Maybe I will go to the state fair next month and try the high -flying rides......LOL

7:20 PM  
Blogger PBS said...

I used to love rides, especially the ones that twirled 'round and 'round and also the roller coasters. But now that I'm older, just LOOKING at them makes me queasy. Funny how that changes.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

I'm with you on this. Nice slow elephants for me too.

A "Don't be scared of flying" website gave this sage advice for tolerating turbulance: pretend you are on a roller coaster. Hmm.

**I could feel myself trembling... I thought I was simply going to die - die spinning out of control no less**
That is indeed how I feel on planes. No need to pretend!

3:10 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

Some of the rides today are insane. They used to be wild and fast. Now they go into hyperspeed and you pass your puke 2 - 3 times before it hits the ground.
The scary part is watching the kids scream to get on and the scream to get off. LOL
I don't have the stromach for it any more but I still enjoy watching the green people getting off

3:13 AM  
Blogger anumita said...

Little hag was such a darling! I am one of those that enjoys having my heart in my mouth. I love the most terrifying rides where I scream the loudest and then run back for another round.

9:20 AM  
Blogger annush said...

Palisades! i went to elementary school there :)

I am a Jersey girl who is still obsessed with Six Flags!

2:26 PM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

I've never been keem on going on rides that will make us ill afterwards. Why should I pay for that?

3:15 PM  
Blogger katie said...

I can't seem to handle the big kid rides either, but as a smaller kid I loved them. Now it seems I just go to carnivals and fairs for the food. Yummy funnel cake.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Eileen the Jellomonster said...

"each car spun independently in circular motion, at the same time heading fast, fast, fast around the length of the track. The ride was indoors and surrounded by flashing lights and loud music."

Sounds like the "roto-disco" ride at Six Flags near Dallas. Ah, the memories... including my first job ever, at Astroworld here in Houston. It was announced in the paper the other day that Astroworld is closing forever at the end of October. Another part of my youth slipping away... Oy vey.

11:30 PM  
Blogger dulciana said...

I'm not a fan of "big people rides," and lately, not a fan of little people ones, either! My munchkin begged and pleaded to ride the carousel in the mall until, against my better judgement, I agreed. I stood next to her horse, and as soon as the thing started, she reached around the pole, threw both arms around my neck and held on for dear life. So there I was, trapped in a toddler headlock against the pole with said toddler dragging me up and down with her and screaming bloody murder and the carousel going around just a little too fast to try to take her off the horse. Let's just say it was not a photo opportunity.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

I am not one for rides... brrr.. I simply do not have the stomach for it..

You could say I have a fear and nausea of all things merry go round... LOL

5:29 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Carol, thanks for all the comments. I almost cry every time I think of Lightning, and every time I remember my daughter's face when we heard the news. It was a horrible time for us.

That's a great pen pal story; I do wish I was still writing mine and had gotten to meet her. I saw some people on Oprah a few yeas back whom she put together for a surprise visit. They had been corresponding for years and years and had never gotten together. It was great to see them.

7:27 AM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I share your feelings completely. Roller coasters have never been my thing, and usually make me scared.

Three weeks ago, my girlfriend invited me to Disneyland with you. I told her, no fast rides, please. After much coaxing, I went on a few, and they were not so bad after all.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

This is somewhere on my "100 things about me" list: I grew up in an amusement park town and never rode on the roller coater.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Lizabeth said...

I'm totally with you, i hate the "big people" rides. We used to go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg at least once a summer and I rode the kiddie rides till I was absolutely too big. Can't stand them. Every time someone gets killed on something at an amusement park the desire goes deeper and deeper into the depths of "never gonna happen". I'm a weenie, I admit it. no big deal! LOVE the picture by the way!

2:31 PM  
Blogger jon said...

Hi Hag that is Weary,
Thanks for your inquiry as to my well being. It made me feel loved (blush).

We took the girls to the local roller coaster hell this summer. Both me and the wife had enough spinning, dropping, and flying to last a while. I'm not yet to the point where I can't go on these rides, but I can see it coming.

10:16 PM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

I love the rides, especially the big people rides but get violently ill on the carousel. go figure. Put in a ride that can spin me, jerk me, toss me around with a satanic centrifical explosion and I am fine. Put me on the little horsey that goes around in a circle while moving up and down then we are talking lovely lunch launching. sort of screwed up, in my humble opinion.

4:34 AM  
Blogger Swifty said...

Hey, goofy chicken shit! You just done showed us how to write. Such rich narrative, it was like being there. I'm pleased for you and envy you as well, MF. So tell me, is 'smushed' the vernacular over there or is it one of your own? No matter, it's the perfect word for the situation. Brilliant.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Kathy AKA Ben said...

We took our kids to Disney a shade over 15 years ago. I foolishly went on a ride that cautioned about dizziness - something like...*if you are prone to dizziness stay away.* I ignored the warning, stupidly thinking that growing up near an amusement park/working in an amusement park, would make me somehow immune. NOT. I was dizzy for days and off and on again for weeks and although I can't confirm that this ride was the start of my tinnitus, I do sometimes look back blaming that ride!

9:49 AM  
Blogger Gammys Perspective said...

Well,Carol, I have to admit it was good to walk down memory lane and find another one who doesn't enjoy the grownup rides. We have a lot of county fairs around here and I can hardly wait to take my grandaughter on the rides. That will be my entertainment. I don't enjoy being bobbed up and down then thrown around and spun out of control. Quite honestly, one thing that turned me off with the park rides is the fact my mother threw up after being on one while we were at Atlantic City. She did what she could to get the man's attention....too late. That was enough for me. Scared me for life. So I will stick to the kiddie rides and enjoy my grandaughter's joy.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Gammys Perspective said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:15 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Carol, thanks for coming by; you are forgiven for the "youse guys" and "yiz" (I've never heard that one!) since you are so obviously intelligent and have probably mended your ways!

7:41 AM  
Anonymous J said...

I have always loved the "big people" rides, but my favorites are ones gentle enough they don't require a lot of bars and straps. Wooden roller coasters are a favorite, and flume rides. I find it more thrilling when my body isn't overwhelmed and disoriented but when the sensations are few enough and close enough to normal that I can take them all in. None of this looping and twisting at the same time.

I like extremes though. My favorite ride was the Superman ride at six flags over America. Straight down is great, and my shoulders weren't pinned to the car either!

Loose change... once on vacation in Canada my brother and I went on one of the many kinds of rides that have cages that do things in the air. It was at night. When our cage started spinning through the dark the door began flopping open. Thankfully the lap belt was intact. We heard a rattling. Jokingly I said, "Hey, we're in Canada, that could be a dollar." When the ride stopped we found that it was. The grass and gravel of Canadian fairgrounds has got to be richer than ours.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Trudie said...

Hi, I too could not ride the "big people's" rides, still can't. I can't even go to Great Adventure with the kids because I'm afraid for my kids!! Couldn't do the ferriswheel, but enjoyed the rides you enjoyed.
Thank you for stopping by "Amazing." I have a confession: My daughter sent me the post and I used it before checking the accuracy. Some of the "facts" aren't. Oops, sorry!

9:54 PM  
Blogger L said...

I used to love roller coasters... but after I turned 30 I started getting motion sickness! I was very unhappy about that

2:00 AM  
Blogger Shirazi said...

Better to be wiser. Nice read.

6:50 AM  

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