For something like twenty-five years D.B. and I have been taking trips together that usually have an amusement park destination. Sure, we’d like to see Graceland and the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rushmore, but if we can’t find a thrill ride within an hour’s drive, we make other plans.
We both attribute this obsession to our divorced childhoods and our divorced fathers who took us to King’s Island once a year. (Though technically, D.B. went with both parents and while he and his little brother ran wild thru the park, the parents argued and hollered and discussed the terms of their impending separation and subsequent divorce.) Also, The Brady Bunch filmed an episode there, and to this day, if either of us sees that it’s on, we call the other, shrieking, and we watch as the family races from one side of the park to the other, not riding rides, no, but trying to track down Mr. Brady’s blueprints that Jan misplaced. We watch from beginning to end and wonder why Jan wasn’t just sold to the gypsies because she was a hindrance to good times for everyone, including Alice.
There is no rollercoaster too terrifying for us. We like them big and we are not purists who insist on wood or thrill-seekers who only want the insane gymnastics that steel can provide. Mostly though, the higher and faster and more certain the death, the happier we are.
Only here’s the thing: I really only like the little ones now, the ones that kids under 48” are allowed to ride. There are several possibilities for what caused my change of heart, but here are the most likely culprits:
1. I rode Mission Space at Epcot three years ago and my life flashed before my eyes as Gary Senese narrated my few seconds of supposed weightlessness.
2. I turned 40.
3. I am suggestible now that I’m middle aged, and those warning signs about back trouble, heart trouble, high blood pressure, and pregnancy convince me that I have all four conditions and should walk myself immediately to First Aid and rest on a cot.
4. I’m not really keen to die now that I’m in love. (For the record, as far as D.B. is concerned, it’s all about Mission Space and my age. If he thought I let a man come between me and our good rollercoaster times, he’d never forgive me. He’s barely forgiven me for becoming a part of a couple.)
It has been difficult to hide this recent development from D.B. Last year, when I was just beginning to lose my bottle, our schedules didn’t allow for a trip, so he was none the wiser. This year, I carefully planned a trip to a city with only a teeeeeeny amusement park that I knew I could handle: Rochester’s Sea Breeze.
Sea Breeze is cute and historical and not really a thrill park. It sits on the edge of Lake Ontario and is adorable. How could historical or adorable be scary? Well, to a normal person it wouldn’t be, but to a 40 year old hypochondriac lover of Z who once nearly had to use a Mission: Space barf bag, it’s all scary now. The wooden bobsleds were the tamest and even those seemed like they could hurtle me into the lake. The old out-and-back jack rabbit coaster that was smaller than the kiddie rollercoaster at King’s Island jiggled my brain around in its casing so severely that I was sure brain damage was a possibility, and the tricked-out wild mouse that spins and loops and twists, well dear reader, it scared me so much I couldn’t even get on it. Do you hear this: I, rider of standy uppy and hangy downy and steepest and twistiest coasters all over the country was scared away from a wild mouse.
The end of an era is upon me. I will now be forced to divide my life into two neat halves: before and after the wild mouse. From this point on, it’s just museums and garden shows and watching, I don’t know, birds. The horror.