Cheap thrills

I've always loved carnivals, especially at night. I love the atmosphere, with its chatter and sparkle; I love the smell, between the fried dough, fried potatoes, and fried sugar (also known as cotton candy); I love the competitive spirit drawn out by the games and the wide array of people you find there and the romance of it all. I know it's not all magic and innocence, but if you pay no attention to the carnies behind the curtain, you can imagine it is...

Best of all I've always loved the rides, from the little dragon roller coaster, spinning swings, and Crazy Bus I rode as a kid to the flying pirate ship and the circling hang glider I grew to love as a teen. Really the only one I DIDN'T love was the Ferris wheel, and that was only because I never had a boy to kiss at the top.

But there were a few things I'd never tried. I remember passing on rides like the Zipper and the Kamikaze because none of my friends wanted to try them or blaming it on the long lines. I think I was secretly just a wimp.

JW and I spent most of last weekend at the fair in his hometown and I decided there was no time like the present to give those crazy rides a spin (pun intended). After all, soon I'll be grown up and then I will be boring and get motion sickness from carnival rides and have to miss out on all the fun.

We warmed up with the hang gliders. It was worth how dizzy we felt afterward for those few minutes of soaring. There is nothing I would love more than the ability to fly.

Once the spins went away, we tried the Zero Gravity ride, which is the one that spins around so fast that centripetal force pins you to the wall. You'd think we would have passed on this one after getting dizzy from the glider, but our sense of logic isn't as strong as our adventurelust.

And so I found myself standing in a little cubicle the width of my shoulders with a little cloth harness buckled loosely in front of me, as if I would need that once the centripetal force kicked in.

It was the strangest predicament, being unable to move my head at all. When the ride stopped, I didn't feel all that dizzy... just like my brain was all squished toward the back of my skull.

After that we tried the Orbiter. It has six arms protruding from a center point (imagine a Daddy long legs). At the end of each leg is a group of seats arranged in an X. When the ride starts, the X spins around the end of the leg and the legs spin around the center point. It felt so odd that I couldn't help laughing throughout the ride, but I wanted to curl up in a corner somewhere when it was over. That one made me dizzy.

After that, we called it quits on the rides for the night (though not, of course, without the obligatory top-of-the-Ferris-wheel kiss ^_^).

But we came back the next day. With a vengeance. There was one ride we had yet to tackle: The Air Force 1 (also known as the Fireball, Afterburner, or Freak Out).

Like the Orbiter, the Air Force 1 has a spinning segment at the end of a long leg, but in this case there's only one leg and it swings back and forth like a pendulum. At the climax, you're nearly upside down.

This was by far the best ride we tried all weekend. Neither of us felt sick or dizzy afterward - just exhilarated. Now I feel brave enough to tackle the scariest rides of all... even the Zipper or the Kamikaze.

What's your favorite carnival ride? Which one are you afraid to try?

Peace, love and cheap thrills,
Miss Rex


K A B L O O E Y said...

I'm with you all the way -- except for the innocence part. I'm with Hitchcock (see Strangers on a Train) in finding them lurid fun because of the hints of sex and danger. And I was also a wimp as a kid. But when I was in my late thirties, I started going on everything with Phin's then young teenage son (he peer-pressured me) and I love that I conquered my fear. Scariest thing I've been on is the Cyclone in Coney Island because it feels rickety as all hell. I also always had romantic fantasies about kissing on ferris wheels, but ticked that off the life list in my twenties.

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