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Worldwide Ace » A New Twist – Part II

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A New Twist – Part II

21 November, 2009 (10:54) | Growing Up

For context, read
A New Twist – Part I

Apparently, Caleb’s first roller coaster was the Mind Eraser too.

I can’t remember the first time I heard the phrase, “I remember it like it was yesterday.” I suspect it was quickly followed by a strange, soap-opera-esque stare into the distance, swelling music, and a wavy special effect leading into a flashback sequence, but I’m not sure. After all, I don’t even remember yesterday like it was yesterday. Instead, I get small flashes and scenes; some immaculately drawn or painted rather than a photo-realistic representation of whatever it is I’m remembering.

There are, however, some experiences which are simply so vivid that they paint a masterpiece in my mind; and I say paint with full knowledge that even the clearest image is streaked with the wide brushes time uses to distance the event. I remember watching the sun rise on the peak of Masada in Israel. I remember crashing spectacularly down my first double black diamond at Breckenridge. I remember diving into the lake in Kent’s Hill, Maine and feeling the algae slide by me as I coursed through the water.

Some events I’m surprised I remember. Others I know I’ll remember before they happen. And some I expect to remember but don’t.

It was literally yesterday when I went to Elitch’s, yet now it feels so distant and surreal.

Memory’s a strange and fickle thing.

I’m shivering slightly despite the warmth of the sun. In the distance, several roller coasters rumble along tracks. Despite it’s distance, I can hear the creak of the Twister II, an old wooden roller coaster. To our left, screams echo from the Sidewinder, a short loop de loop that goes forward, then back again. I can hear the squeal of brakes on the Tower of Doom, a dead drop that mimics my first real thrill ride, the Edge at Great America.

All of these are dwarfed by the massive twirling steel rig that is the Mind Eraser.

“You sure we can’t just go to a simpler coaster?” I ask meekly.

“Are you kidding me?” Annika replies, her eyebrow and head clearly mocking my fear.

“Once you’ve ridden the Mind Eraser, you can ride anything,” Denise assures me. “Besides, it’s not that bad. Trust me.”

SIDE NOTE: I hate those two words. “Trust me.” They have an implied sarcasm that’s never intended but is often right. I’m staring at a disgustingly bad food someone ordered for me. “You’ll like it,” they say. “Trust me.” I give it a 1 out of 5 chance that I’ll actually like it, and that’s being generous. As soon as that two word phrase floats out of someone’s mouth, I know I can’t trust that person. It’s the least reassuring thing someone can say short of telling me I’m going to die or some equally outright threatening statement.

The sign above the line warns of a 45 minute wait. When we finally reach the end of the line, a different sign says 30 minute wait. Just like that, 15 minutes of quiet meditation has evaporated.

“Maybe we could come back later. You know, start with the simple stuff,” I protest. They laugh at me.

“Dude,” says Sarah. “Don’t be such a pussy.”

Easy for you to say, Supergirl.

I adjust my hat again and again, nervously switching the plastic tab from slightly too tight to slightly too loose. I feel old and lame surrounded by excited little kids.

SIDE NOTE: I can’t decide if lines are good or bad. On the one hand, they give me time to prepare for what’s coming. It’s like that scene in Braveheart after Mel Gibson gave his awesome freedom speech and they can see the enemy across the field. The adrenaline is there. The excitement is palpable. Most importantly, everything that’s about to happen is running through my head. It’s as daunting and scary as it is reassuring, the knowledge that I’m unclear what to expect by far the most.

It takes 15 minutes to traverse the line. We slot in by the respective car we’re going to get. I watch as people climb into the coaster, their feet dangling from the chairs.  Some of the kids are swinging their feet excitedly. If I swing my feet, it will be nervously.

The coaster lurches forward and I watch idly as it slowly climbs and disappears around the corner, a chorus of screams and the rattling of wheel on track the only indication that anything’s happening. In less than a minute, the coaster is back around and people are dismounting.

Our gates open and we deposit our stuff on the opposite side where the exit is. Denise removes her flip flops and I toss my hat on top.

“Is everything alright, sir?” the attendant asks me as she checks my harness. I’ve already checked it six times.

“Oh yeah,” I tell her, my false bravado revealed by my wavering voice. “I’m not going anywhere.” I check the harness for a seventh time. I’ll check it twice more before we leave the station and at least three more times before we really start rolling. “I mean, except for where the rails take me.” I pause as the girl smiles at me.

“First time, huh?”

“That easy to tell?”

“Yeah.” Denise laughs.

“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” I can’t tell whose telling me. I’ve heard it too many times.

A few woos fly as the announce our imminent departure, the train jolting into a slow motion up.

“Don’t hold your head too tight,” Denise advises me. “Your neck will get sore.”

“If that’s my biggest worry, I’ll be a happy man,” I mutter softly.


“Nothing,” I yell.

We’re a good two hundred feet above the ground when I feel the train release and begin to enter free fall. A sense of dread runs down my spine, my white knuckles gripping the handles on the harness. I close my eyes.


My neck hurts and my head slams the side of the tight harness as we hit the first turn. The rush of the wind is exhilarating. I open my eyes and let my muscles relax, my head lolling left as the car sweeps right. We zip upward, the horizon crystal clear and beautiful, the mountains arching off to my left. I’m yanked as the car lo0ps around. We swoop down into a corkscrew, but it goes by so fast I barely notice. I remember Sarah’s words, and just like that I’m airborne.

“I like to pretend that I’m flying,” Sarah told me. “I stare off into the horizon and swoop this way and that. It’s like I’m a bird. I stick my hands out and feel the rush of air. It’s awesome.”

It zips by in a blur, the station coming so quickly I’m afraid we’ll miss it. The brakes hit hard, but I was warned. I avoid the violent lurch the harness would’ve taken into my shoulders.

“So?” inquires Denise, a wide grin on her face.

“That was, um… kind of awesome,” I reply, unable to keep a straight face. “I didn’t even pee myself.” She laughs and gives me a hug as we collect our stuff.

“I told you you’d like it,” Annika exclaims. The others dance their way down the ramp and into the future, visions of excitement and amusement parks dancing in their periphery.

“Let’s do the Tower of Doom next,” yells Sarah.

“I can do that,” I proudly say. “I’ve done it before.”

“You’ve done roller coasters before now too,” Mitch reminds me.

“So I have,” I say. “And it only took me 28 years.”