roller coasters, blood and extra onions. Welcome to america, motherfucker!
by Michele Christopher
Today, we didn't want to get into politics or "yay USA" stuff. You probably know how we feel by know about most issues so why fly it out on a flag. We both love the USA and would pull it off the ground if it fell down. It's just what you do when you are American. You defend it. People insulting you from other countries for what's going on deserve a response.
You probably know what we are going to be doing today. Michele will be shuttling kids home after the party she threw for her kids last night and I'll be sleeping for a few hours with my dog. No, not that kind of sleeping with. Get your mind out of the gutter. So since we didn't really want to do the "You suck. You are wrong thing," which is cool if you do (refer back to the "we know and you know our feelings"), we thought we would have some fun. I don't think any of us totally agree on what is going on in the world today, but we can all agree that America rules. But, what to do? What to write about?
I have no idea how this topic came up. Our minds wander like some kind of homeless person yelling that the flies are turning into eggs and they are causing her to chew Dentyne gum while playing dice. So she needs your spare change to keep throwing those dice. Cause seven is going to come up. It will hit. When it does, she will pay you back. Not a big deal. She will get you back. But, her definition of getting you back is buying a bottle of Night Train or MD 20/20 and hitting the alley. She paid you back. By not bothering you the rest of the night and passing out in an alley.
But anyways, I was listening to the TV this morning and they were saying something about the Nathan's hotdog eating championship. Eating hotdogs. As fast as you can. Shoving them back. With a flag waving behind them. Why? Well, fuck me. I don't know. I asked Michele how far it was to Coney Island from her house. Cause I think it would be funny to fuck with them. Hotdog hecklers. Tossing a hotdog at them. Seeing if it confuses them. A look of terror in their eyes as they all wonder why a chili dog was thrown at them. Did they need to eat this? Was this some kind of bonus round like in a video game? Did they find the secret "Level of Chili??" What do they need to do now?
I just thought it would be funny.
But our ideas were born on the theme park roller coasters. The best roller coaster we ever rode. Or in Michele's case, the worst. So in light of today's "Let's go Crazy or Bag on the USA" or the "America is the Greatest Place in the World" posts, we thought we would have fun. Grab a beer. Grab a hotdog and dump more chili on. Sure it's messy. But you are an American. Americans are a mess. A mess of people, cultures and religions all coming together to be one. We've been holding messes in our hands since we started this country. We've just kept going. Bite that chili dog. Chili. Onions. Relish. Mustard. And the dog. What a mess. Get used to it. This is America. And it tastes good.
Let's talk about roller coasters.
Let’s start this out by saying I am wimp. A wuss. A pussy. I’m afraid of heights so that means that most rides of this nature are gonna be a challenge for me. I love the thrills, sort of. Really, I do love coasters. I just don’t like them if they are wooden. Or go over water. Or have 360 degree loops. Or go upside down at all. Or backwards. Or sideaways.
Jesus. I’m a pussy.
Yet I get on these coasters anyhow. Well, I used to. And some of them, not all of them. There were certain parts of the ride I loved. Just like I watch horror movies because I love the anticipation of being scared, I ride coasters because, well, I love the anticipation of being scared. It’s just the being scared part that ruins it all. I’m all excited at the beginning of the ride. Getting in the car, pulling the safety bar closed. Waiting. Feeling the track rumble as the cars that went before you ride the rails. Your heart hammering. Reading the warning/danger sign that makes you think you might have made a bad choice in getting onto this ride. Imagining the worst case scenarios. Overturned cars, broken tracks, flailing limbs, crushed bones. Hey didn’t they make a movie about this? Yea, this is how I think, guys. Expect the worst in every situation. Usually that means painful death.
By the time the ride starts my heart is hammering in my chest and my hands have already gripped the safety bar so tight I’ve lost circulation in them. My mouth is dry. My breathing is labored. But I’m doing this. I’m doing it anyhow. Because the thrill of going down that first slope is worth all the fear in the world, right? Right.
Let’s go back to oh, 1980 or so. Class trip to Six Flags, Great Adventure. I had already been forced go on the Runaway Mine Train, a rickety, steel coaster that went over water several times. Sideways. The car dipped on its side and went skimming right over the water. Did I mention I’m afraid of water as well as heights? And being sideways in a roller coaster car? Yea, this was working out well for me. Not. There were several times during the ride I was sure that I was having a heart attack. I was sure the track was falling apart. I was sure I wasn’t buckled in right. I was sure the train was falling off the track into the water. No, it wasn’t very deep water. But, hey, it was New Jersey water. That in and of itself is pretty damn scary.
So after I made it through that ride intact, at least physically, everyone insisted that I could now handle the Rolling Thunder ride. Now, this ride was lame as far as most coaster standards go. No inversions, 56mph, 96 feet at the top. For ride freaks, this was a breeze. For someone like me, it was as terrifying as Kingda Ka might be to you. But I agreed. I would go on. I was never really good at that resisting peer pressure stuff. Did I mention that Rolling Thunder is wooden? And that I freaking hate wooden coasters? Yea. This was going to be great.
Once again. Get in car. Feel the anxiety start. Sweating a little bit. Safety bar locked. Read sign. Deep breaths. Listen to my friends all laughing and excited while I’m forming a death grip on the bar. Teeth clenched. Track rumbling. Here we go. Here we go. I suck in my breath as the car makes a lunge forward and then begins making its way toward the first incline. Oh, the incline on a wooden coaster. Up, up, up, your head tilted back, nothing but sky and the top of the coaster above you and you hear that click click click sound. Wait, is it getting slower? Oh my god we are gonna slide back down! My grip tightens. My blood runs cold. The click picks up again. Whew. We are still going forward. My god, Michele, pull yourself together. It’s just a ride. Just a ride. Thousands before you have gone on it and not perished. Relax. Breathe. Click. Click. Click. Click........almost to the top. The good part is coming. The free fall. The part where you feel like you are flying, like you are completely free of restraints and you are hurtling through space. The part where your stomach drops and you know that if you keep your eyes closed for the rest of the ride and just hold onto the feeling of freedom and feel the wind in your hair and not look at the rest of the hairpin turns and just live off the adrenaline of that drop until you pull into the end station, you will be ok.
Click. Click. Click. There’s the top. Finally. We made it up the mountain without realizing my fear of slipping back into a death crash. Get ready. Here comes the drop. Click. I let my grip go a little. Click. I brace myself for the fall. Click. Ready, set. Nothing. Nothing. No sound. Not a click. Not a rush of wheels on the wooden track as the coaster flies downward. Not a scream of delight. Pure silence. No movement. My. Fucking. God. My absolute worst nightmare has come to light. We are stuck on the absolute highest point of a wooden roller coaster. Holy. Shit. I am going to die. I am going to die. Ok, don’t panic. Yea, too fucking late for that. Panic city, baby. Don’t look down. Whatever you do, don’t look...what the hell? The car is shaking. What’s going on? I open my eyes, which had been squeezed shut and see that my friends are making all kinds of commotion in their cars. They are waving to everyone down below, crowds who have stopped to gasp at the stuck coaster car. They are screaming. With delight. Talking about getting out of the safety bar and climbing down the tracks. Laughing. Enjoying every minute of this. Me, I’m in the first car. I stare straight ahead because I don’t want to look down. But all I see is air. Sky. Empty space. I freak out. I start crying. I’m screaming something about wanting to go home, wanting my mommy, wanting off this crazy thing and not wanting to die in fucking New Jersey. I’m 17 years old. I have a life to live. A bright future ahead of me. I am not going to die in New Jersey. I am not going to die in a coaster. Friends yelling, laughing, rocking the car. My head in my hands, eyes closed again, shaking like I had been out naked in a blizzard. People don’t understand phobias. They don’t know the grip of fear when you are faced with the thing that makes you most frightened. They were all slapping me upside the head, telling me to get over it and have some fun with them. Pulling on my safety bar.
STOP. FUCKING. WITH. ME. NOW. Stop it right fucking now. Now. I mean it. I swear to Christ I am about two seconds away from puking up every chili dog, slushee and pretzel I ate today and I am going to use all my power to stand up in this god damn coaster and projectile vomit that shit all over if you don’t STOP. FUCKING. WITH. ME. NOW. They sat down. Stared hard at me. Wondered if I would follow through on that threat and then remembered the time I sprayed a purple and red rainbow of Boones Farm wine puke all over James’s beloved army jacket and they shut up quick. Just then, a park worker appeared beside us as if by magic. Yea, he used the labyrinth of wood underneath the coaster to climb up to us, but it seemed like magic. “Everyone sit down and stay still. We’re ready to bring you back down.” He was all professional and business like. Hands and arms inside the car at all times and all that. He disappeared like a rat in a tunnel and suddenly we were in motion again. The free fall down the incline did not feel so much like freedom this time. It felt like nausea. I wanted off this ride. I wanted out of this park, out of New Jersey. I wanted to go home. The whole thing took place in about seven minutes but it seemed like seven hours. When we finally got out of the car and walked away from the ride, I wanted to kiss the ground like an astronaut coming home to mother earth. Instead, I headed straight for the parking lot, to our waiting bus. There was only about a half hour left of this school trip, anyhow. I slept the rest of it off.
That was the last time I went on any decent roller coaster. Even when I went to Disney World many years later, I stuck to the Goofy coaster. And now Turtle is talking to me about going on Kingda Ka together.
Oddly enough, I’m giving it some thought. - M
I always had to wonder who thought up these things. These were like kiddie cocaine or pure adrenaline rushing thru your viens to your your head, begging you to go and ride it while begging to really think about what you are doing. Some people love them, others are terrified of them. But I was always the type of person to ask why am I afraid? Why do I back off? When you see little kids coming off the ride laughing and having a good time and your body is so cut up from bailing on halfpipes and shows, you half to stop. Think. And really, call yourself a pussy. Fuck dude. It's a ride. Get on it. Man, that's up there. "You are a pussy, turtle." But man, that's high. Like some kind of weird high, man. That's up there. "You are a pussy turtle. Get in line or surrender your penis at the gate."
Sometimes I hate my brain.
So we arrived. Half blown out and half awake. Crack another beer. Hey. They had American flags at the top of that ride! What was that one?
The Demon. Santa Clara. California.
Keep in mind we did things on a whim back then. Had a few hours off, let's find something to do. You get used to not knowing where you are and someone waking you up in a strange place at a strange time and with a strange face. Things get weird. But we were where? Santa what? The fuck is this? This is that town! I hate this town.
I don't like Santa Clara.
More about the ride.
Walking into the usual kind of crap. Search, stamp, move on. What now? Beer time, turtle. Oh, duh. I'm not functioning unless something is running around my head. Crossing thru the barrairs, we stopped at the arcade. The whole arcade was filled with one machine. "Dragon's Lair." God, that was fucking stupid game. *watch better half yell at me now* But, damn dude, that game sucked. So we needed something else to do. Let's hit the ride. That one we saw. You know. With the flags. That one there. Let's go.
Ok. This is cool.
Going into the ride was amazing. The clack clack clack and going up is only the start. At the top of the track looking down at the the lake of blood and the face waiting to eat you. Amazing. Death and destruction lay below. You did this to yourself. You put yourself here. You have only yourself to blame. Why are you here? Why did you do this? My mind was split into two. Like a devil and an angel on my shoulders. Both talking to me.
But the only thing that I was thinking was....
Have fun today and remember no matter what happens to us all, we are all still part of the big chili dog that's called America. -T
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