World of Wonders


I guess a rite of passage for all parents is to take their kids to a pop up carnival on some crappy vacant lot somewhere.  A place where you pay $70 to go on a few rides that are a class action suit waiting to happen and eat food that the department of health should put on the most wanted list.  We arrive at 6:30 and the place is pack with kids, euphoric from the bright lights, bizarre sounds and the abundance of sugar products.  We see some friends and the husband tells me to bite the bullet and go for the $100 ticket package! He says they evaporate like drops of water in a frying pan. He’s a lawyer, so I buy the $50 package. My personal philosophy is to always discount anything a lawyer says by 50%.  I purchase the ticket from a woman that looks like a retired troll and the games begin. The kids proceed to have one ride on the dragon coster, one game of “whack-a-mole” and two turns on the super slide. I end up having to borrow 3 tickets from the lawyer to cover the second super slide. We both know its going to cost me.  Maybe not now but later in the summer.  I’ll probably reluctantly call him on the way over to a cookout and he’ll say something like, “Hey, can you be a mench and pick up some steaks on you’re way over? Oh and maybe a nice bottle of Scotch while you’re at it.”  I go back and get another $50 package and loose out on the volume discount.  Thing 1 wants to goes on the “Free Fall”, a tower of death that hoist you high above the vacant lot at an excruciatingly slow pace and drops you without warning 5 stories like you’ve just been release through the trap door of hangman’s gallows.  I ask her if she wants me to go on it with her.  She nods yes… damn!  I’m just getting over this back thing and the ride looks like the ultimate spinal contraction contraption.  This is not going to end well I think.  We wait our turn and finally the carney in charge of the ride opens the gate.  Kids and chaperones scramble for the limited seats like cattle lining up for branding day.  Fortunately Thing 1 and I get a seat together.  We sit and wait for the carney to come pull down the safely harness and strap us in.  This never happens and as machinery winds up, we start to elevate as I frantically reach over to get Thing 1‘s seat secured.  Now I know for sure  that if I’m ever in an airline mishap where oxygen masks are required, I would ignore protocol and help the child first before securing my own.  Good to know.   We keep rising higher and higher.  Thing 2 is on the ground crying because she couldn’t go on the ride.  I would gladly have give her my place at this point.  She looks like a dot on Google maps as we continue to ratchet up skyward.  I look over and Thing 1 is blissfully ignorant to the shock we’re both preparing to endure.  She actually just figured out how close the ocean is for the first time.  I really need to get her to the beach more.   At that moment the release happens without warning and we start to plummet back to earth.  Time is slowing down now and Thing 1’s eyes are as big as hula hoops.  I get a weird unpleasant sensation in my testicles and try to tighten up my core.  My dad was a navy test pilot and he’d be ashamed of my inability to handle even moderate G-force.  I flash to an image of an albino grease monkey I saw on the way in and can’t help but to wonder if he’s responsible for the maintenance of this ride.  What if  the hydraulics fail and we are rendered into a large and small  flat heap on the rapidly approaching deck below?  This abject terror is broken by a pillowy landing and just like that it’s all over.  Thing 1 looks like she’s seen a poltergeist and I think I might have broken her.  I quickly release us from the torture chairs and hold her hand as we wobble back to terra firma on shaky legs.  The exit path takes us pass a line of porta Johns where I finally stop and ask if she’s ok.  She looks me in the eyes and says, “Daddy, do you have any tickets left?”.  Damn that lawyer!