Three of my children and I made our annual pilgrimage to the opening day of the of Frontier City, Oklahoma City’s answer to Six Flags. Each year for the past four or five years they have introduced a new ride. This year it’s the Terrible Twister.
Naturally the three children couldn’t wait to get their mother on the thing. Naturally, their mother wasn’t about to back down.
The minute I saw it I had flashbacks to many years ago at the Oklahoma State Fair. I was twelve years old watching my friends line up to ride this contraption that literally defied gravity. It consisted of a round “room” in which one was plastered against the wall while it spun at a death defying speed. Then the floor would drop six feet out from under the occupants and lo and behold the people would stick to the wall like flies to flypaper.
I may have been only 12 but I had the sense of a 59 year-old. There was no way on God’s green earth I was going to pay hard earned allowance to subject myself to that harrowing experience. Consequently, I became the target of much ridicule and harassment thus affecting my entire junior high and high school years.
But I digress, back to the present. It seems now that I am 59 but have the sense of a 12 year old because I agreed to accompany my teenage children on this thrill of thrills.
We enter the room with three total strangers. The operator gives us this spiel about “for your safety keep your arms and legs against the wall, thank you and enjoy your ride.” Wait a minute! I wanted more instruction than this. I looked up at him and said, “What am I supposed to do??” I could have sworn he mouthed “pray”.
Suddenly the room began to spin. I closed my eyes and all I could concentrate on was the feel of that floor beneath my feet. I knew that feeling would soon leave. And it did… and I started slipping.
Now here is exactly what I envisioned: I am flat against this wall and for the first time in the history of humankind, the laws of centrifugal force are not working. I am going to fall six feet into a spinning black vortex to be mix mastered to death in front of my children and three total strangers.
I begin to yell, quite loudly, “I’M SLIPPING! I’M REALLY SLIPPING I CAN FEEL IT!” I’m afraid I was really making a fool out of myself but I didn’t care. I was slipping! I could feel my body moving down the wall! I was desperately grabbing for the flat sides of the wall, which is a horrible feeling when what you want are handles.
In my state of sheer panic I could hear laughing voices telling me to open my eyes. Who would laugh at a time like this? Yea, right, sure, open my eyes so I could see the six feet below me where I was about to end up. I don’t think so.
Finally the poor man operating the ride stopped it. I once again felt the floor beneath my feet and I could have cried tears of joy. I had made it. Saved in the nick of time from a fate worse than death. I vowed never to question my 12 year old judgment.
And here is what my children and three total strangers saw: A middle aged woman yelling hysterically that she was falling into oblivion with the floor maybe..oh…four inches below her feet.