Over the weekend, April decided to take a break from being Hell Month and throw me a bone in the form of a day at the Kings Dominion amusement park, which meant roller coaster riding from 10:30a until about 5p. My cohorts were my friend and her husband (who is also my friend, but it would have been really stupid to say my friend, and my other friend who is also her husband, b/c that implies that he and I were friends before he got married to her and that isn’t what happened. Normally, I’d identify them by their first initial, but since they both have names that start with J, this would be less than pointless.) So, we’ll just call them Sir and Madame J. Yay for inadequate English!
Let me go ahead and state that I love roller coasters. The scarier they are, the better. So I was not lured or enticed on any of these against my will, and, in fact, couldn’t get to the next one fast enough. This seemed well-suited to Sir and Madame J, since they seemed to have the same desire to die as myself. Or the same adrenaline addiction. Whichever.
Towards the end of the day, April decided it had played nice enough and hit me with a tidalwave of motion sickness later in the afternoon, but up until that point, I had a blast. I got my head buzzed, flipped, and G-forced to the point that I came to realize some very important facts about life. And, because you are my Most Highly Respected Anonymous Readers, I choose to share them with you. 🙂
- God answers prayer. This is proven simply by the fact that I am alive to blog about this today, since some of the rides (such as the Intimidator 305, a coaster so badass it has its own website, and the Drop Tower) had me praying a litany of simple prayers that all had the same basic chorus: “Please God, don’tletmedie.”
- It is possible for your body to become so scared in the presence of imminent death that it literally gives up. I discovered this on the aforementioned Drop Tower, a ride that is said to be the largest drop ride in North America. This thing straps you into a chair, with your feet hanging free, and takes you up 305 ft. into the air. On the way up, you appreciate the gentle rise, enjoy the sight of the whole park that stretches out to the horizon, maybe even point out someone you know riding another roller coaster on the entire other side of the park. A pleasant male voice announces that you’ve reached the top of the tower and tells you to have a great day. You’re wondering exactly what it is about this ride that’s so scary—after all, you aren’t afraid of heights, and even though you’ve seen others ride the ride, they don’t really scream that much, so it can’t be that frightening, right? …Right?
Then you drop. You fall 272 ft. at 72 mph, a speed that supposedly simulates the sensation of skydiving. Your instinctive reaction is to clench up, grabbing at the harness around your shoulders and try to clamp your feet to your butt so that you’re as tiny a target for danger as possible. But, since you’re falling, this instinct is pretty much useless. My brain had about enough time to process the imminent death in this fashion:
“Oh crap! Wait, that’s not so bad.”
*with rising anxiety* “Not stopping…”
“TERROR! DEATH! NOWNOWRIGHTNOW DEATH!”
And then my body gave up. My legs flew free so that they were straight out in front of me, and my brain simply went, “That’s it. You’re dead.” And on the very end of this thought, the brakes on the ride kicked in and we were brought to an abrupt-but-gentle stop. And then my brain exploded because, hey, you’re supposed to be dead here! WTF happened to the death we were ready for?!
The first time, I had trouble talking until I’d unhooked my harness, gotten out of my seat, and walked out of the gates for the ride. Genuinely scared speechless and realizing that this would be why nobody screamed. After that, I had to ride it again twice more, if for no other reason than to conquer this ride that had conquered me. This ride let me know, in no uncertain terms, that if it had wanted my wallet and my purse, it would have not only taken them but also raped me like a coma patient.
Yeah, I went there. Because THAT’S WHAT THIS RIDE DID TO YOUR BRAIN. And each time we rode it, even though I was fully prepared for the sensations each time around, my brain’s instinctive reactions were still the same. “Oh crap, still falling, I give up” and my legs unlocked so that I could peacefully splatter into thousands of jello-like bits.
- You should wait a half-hour to an hour after eating before being turned upside down. Similar to the old wive’s adage about swimming and eating, I learned this one the hard way. On a creature called The Berzerker. Yeah, it seems really obvious NOW that was a bad idea, but at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable. I’d ridden a version of this ride before, the kind that looks like a dragon or some kind of Viking ship that rocks back and forth until it eventually flips you upside down, like when you take a bucket of water and sling it in a circle above your head. But a full belly really does make all the difference, a fact that sadly began to occur to me only when I was fully upside down, held there for the span of 3 seconds or so, and Madame J turns to me, giggles, and goes, “You’re turning purple.”
I spent the rest of that 3-minute ride screaming, “DOES NOT LIKE!” at the top of my lungs and trying not to think about each individual item that I’d put in my belly not ten minutes before. I didn’t realize I was yelling this until we got off the ride, and Madame J gleefully informed Sir J of this (who had sat that one out and wasn’t there to experience it in person).
- Getting your picture taken without warning never turns out well. This was my first experience at a roller coaster park where cameras were positioned along certain spots of the ride tracks to snap the picture of terror-stricken or thrill-seeking passengers for your viewing amusement after you get off the ride. I was frequently taken unaware by this phenomena, a fact that apparently makes for some incredibly unflattering photos of yours truly. And before any of you ask, no, I didn’t buy any to bring home as proof of how unflattering they were.
Sir J apparently has a history of knowing exactly which camera to look at at all the right times. Most of his pictures came out looking like he was enjoying a sunny day at the beach, until he got tired of us complaining about how serene he looked and started making funny faces or pretending to be asleep. I thought this was very thoughtful of him, given how my and Madame J’s pictures turned out. My face either looked like a frog being electrocuted (which is apparently my 70 mph smiling face) or suddenly-got-flashed-while-answering-the-door-expecting-the-pizza-man shock. Madame J’s look of happiness and terror looked about the same, which is to say both faces looked like she was screaming at the top of her lungs and praying to God not to let her die, except that when it was terror her eyes were closed. This did not please her.
- It is perfectly acceptable to be a “big kid” when you’re having fun. This may seem like a no-brainer to you, and while it’s quite obvious to me as well (since I have the emotional maturity of a twelve-year old thus ensuring that I always act like a big kid), my day at the park with friends drove that home. Whether it’s literally jumping up and down and clapping your hands in anticipation of being next to get on the ride or pretending that you’re running through the air on a ride that leaves your legs hanging free as you speed along the track and loop-the-loop. It’s good for the soul. It’s also quite liberating to be able to scream at the top of your lungs as you’re flipped and flung every which way at Mach 3.
Ditto that for the moment of realization that although you might have screamed a list of profanities while seated next to a younger child when a ride caught you by surprise, say on the Drop Tower where you proceeded to fall to your imminent death, you know the kid never heard you because of the rushing wind and the fact that they were screaming at the top of their lungs as they fell to their imminent death, too.