I can’t resist one.
If I see it, I have to ride it. There is a certain order in the universe to it, as you always end up where you started.
The calliope music. The smiling parents waving to their little ones who are on a wooden steed of their choosing. A watershed moment in their young lives as this is the first time Mom or Dad didn’t have to stand next to them as they circled.
They were solo.
On their own.
That feeling of kiddie empowerment that you got the first time you were allowed to ride the little racecars by yourself in Disneyland’s Autopia, or being allowed to ride in your own ferris wheel car without your siblings having to chaperone.
In my book Emotions: Not your Mama’s ABC’s, I compare life itself to a carnival. More specifically, I term death as the end of the Carnival of Life.
Think about it.
You start off being completely babied (of course, you are a baby!) and you are carried aboard the merry-go-round as Mom or Dad hold you as the horse glides magically up and down the shiny pole. Next, you are big enough to sit on your own horse (a major step), but Mom or Dad still have to be there to make sure you don’t do any dumbass kid things like fall off the horse.
Soon, you are riding solo on the steed that you raced frantically to select as soon as the ride operator pulled back the chain holding back the eager kids. It usually took a couple choices before you found the right color or shaped ride, but once selected, you were absolutely certain that you had made the best possible selection.
Now, I don’t care where I find it: in a little city park festival, in a Wal-Mart parking lot carnival, a major themed amusement park, no matter.
I will ride the merry-go-round and I will be merry going ‘round I assure you.
I’m OK with the scarier rides like roller coasters.
I went to Cedar Point Amusement park on Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio back in 1975.
I do not remember the name of the coaster, but it was the scariest one available at the time and I climbed into the first car by myself.
I remember standing in line to board the coaster and they had posted pictures of peoples’ faces, mostly smiling, happy faces as they boarded their respective cars. Some shots were taken at different points along the ride and some were quite funny. As the car climbed and raced around the track, the green waters of Lake Erie shimmering in the afternoon sun, I survived the ride, but felt totally exhausted after holding on for dear life for the 8-minute Death Dance.
“How’d it go?” my date asked, a little too tongue-in-cheek.
“Piece of cake. You should have come. Chicken,” I admonished her.
As we ambled past the line of the next wave of expectant coaster adrenaline junkies, there, posted for everyone to see, was a picture of ME looking like the most scared little girl you ever saw. Mouth wide open (in mid-scream I’m sure), eyes as big as pie tins. Tears screaming down my cheeks.
Bring me the brown pants!