I have always been hypnotize by carnival rides. It amazes me that average, ordinary people eagerly trade in the stillness of the ground for the chance to be tossed through the air like vegetables in a food processor. It shocks me that at some time in history someone thought that people would enjoy this, and that person invented what must have been the first of these terrifying machines. For me, it is definitely the adventure and excitement of having survived the ride that keeps me coming back for more.
My first experience with a carnival ride was the zipper in P.E.I. Looking at that huge monstrosity spinning the life out of its sardine-caged occupants, I was dumbfounded. It was huge, Smokey, and noisy. Ever since that first impression became fossilized in my imagination many years ago, these rides have reminded me of mythical beasts, amazing dinosaurs carrying off their screaming voyager like a sinking ship. Even the reverberating sound of their engines brings to mind the great roar of a fire-breathing dragon with smoke plunging from its exhaust-pipe nostrils.
The first ride on one of these crazy beasts gave me an instant rush of adrenaline. As the death-defying ride started, a lump in my throat pulsed like a dislodged heart ready to walk the plank. As the ride gained speed, the resistance to gravity built up against my body until I was unable to move. An almost slight pause as the wheel reached the top of its climb allowed my body to relax in a brief state of ordinariness. Then there was a storm of stomach-turning weightlessness as the machine continued its rotation and I settle back toward the earth. A cymbal-like crash vibrated through the air as the wheel reached bottom, and much to my surprise I began to rise again.
Each new rotation gave me more confidence in the churning machine. Every ascent left me elated that I had survived the previous death-defying fall. When another nerve-wracking climb failed to follow the last...