There’s something on TV right now about Ferris Wheels. Have you ever ridden one of those things? I’m terrified of them. I don’t like being so high in the air, and I sure don’t like the way they make you go backwards. But the thing I hate most is those seats rocking back and forth, especially when it’s stopped and you’re at the very top, which seems to be the entire time you’re on the ride.
I’ve never liked carnival rides, and I’ve got good reason. When I was a kid, my mom took me to the carnival that came to town for two weeks every summer. I can see her watching me as I went slowly in a circle on a little motorcycle with a horn that I pressed constantly in different patterns, like beeeeep beep beep beep beep beeeeeeep. Then there were little airplanes that went up in the air about four feet with little guns so we could pretend to shoot at the kid directly in front of you. Each time I went by my mom, I waved frantically at her with one hand, keeping my other hand securely on the trigger of the gun, which fired non-stop.
These were fun rides, and I loved the carnival. Then my brother asked me to go with him and I was thrilled. I must have been about 8 and he was 12. I jumped at the chance.
When we passed the kiddy rides, he turned his nose up at them and wouldn’t even wait for me to ride. “Come on, there’s some really cool big kids’ rides over here you’ll love.”
Ooooo! Big kids rides! I skipped along after him, bubbling with anticipation. First we came to the Tilt A Whirl, which I thought was the funnest ride I’d ever been on. Then the Twister, which I also loved because it made me slam into my brother while he pretended he was being squished to death.
Then he took me on the Ferris Wheel, and that thing swooped me up into space like a rocket launch. I was terrified. When we got to the top and stopped, he swung the seat and I knew it was going to tip over and we’d drop forty stories to our deaths. I hit him on the arms and begged him to stop, which he finally did after I started crying like a baby.
He gave me some pink and blue cotton candy to settle my nerves, then took me to where the Rock-O-Plane was. It was very tall just like the Ferris Wheel. “I AIN’T getting on that thing,” I said.
“It’s really fun,” he said. “Look, you’re in a cage so you can’t fall out and you just go round and round a circle. It’s not scary at all.”
After much arguing, coaxing, shaming, and bribing, I agreed to get on the ride as long as he PROMISED that it would not spin like some of the ones we’d seen. “There’s a bar in there, and you can control the spinning by pressing down, so you don’t have to worry.” Next thing I knew, I was in a cage. When the ride started, he pressed down on the bar and the cage started to slowly rock as we soared into the sky like we were on the way back up from a bungee jump.
“Let me out of here,” I screamed. He kept pressing until the cage turned completely upside down. Assorted change in our pockets sprayed out and pelted us like a hailstorm. The faster the giant wheel went, the more our gage turned.
I started screaming every obscenity I’d ever heard in my life, which surprisingly was an entire dictionary of cuss words. “Let me out of this effing thing! You son of a __! Let me out of this mother ____!” I was like a wild animal with Tourettes – foaming at the mouth, crying, screaming, cussing, flailing limbs against the cage as coins smacked my arms and legs and face. “I HATE YOU!” I screamed. My brother, dredging up some mercy from his black heart, took his hands off the bar, but the cage didn’t stop spinning. It had too much momentum.
The carnies must have thought my screeching was amusing, because the ride should have been over but it didn’t stop. Round and round we went. I tumbled out of the seat and was rolling around like a towel in a dryer. My brother was even starting to panic. “I can’t get it to stop!” he shouted. “Just hold on!” What was I supposed to hold on to? The bar? So it would spin faster?
Finally, a line must have formed so the carnie had to stop the ride. I flung that cage door open and huffed out of there, bruised from head to toe and fit to be tied. I folded my arms across my chest and took giant strides across the carnival grounds, refusing to look back at my pleading brother who was fervently begging me not to tell our mom.
I’ve haven’t been a rides person since. I still look up to my brother, but I will never forgive him for the Rock-O-Plane. Not in a million years.