On our honeymoon, Brett and I went to Great America. We splurged and paid extra to go on an attraction called "Xtreme Skyflyer." It's like bungee jumping without the bungee or the jumping. The two of us were strapped into the harness, laying flat on our bellies, and then slowly hoisted to an unbelievably high height. They tell me it was only 17 stories, but I beg to differ. The people on the ground actually started to look small about halfway up. At the peak, the air was so thin I couldn't believe they'd sent us up without oxygen masks.
With our 12 hours of married bliss flashing before our eyes, we grabbed hands and pulled the ripcord.
We fell. And fell. And fell. The ground rushed up to meet us. We were going to die.
Miraculously, the cable which had been assigned to save our lives took charge. It tightened under our combined weight and we began to swing back and forth in a wide arc. I guess that's the point of the ride, you know, the falling and the swinging and all.
For me, however, the the point of the ride seemed to be the screaming. The violent, involuntary, uncontrollable screaming. Once it started (about halfway down), I couldn't stop it. If someone had offered me a million bazillion dollars to stop screaming on this ride, I would have opened my mouth to accept and then screamed, "AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGHHHHHHH!" right in his face.
The park kindly videotaped our experience for free but to take the video home would have cost us $30. It wasn't a great video (it was from a distance and our faces were in shadow the whole time) so we opted to treasure the experience in our hearts instead. Although, as Brett blithely stated, "It's almost worth it for the screaming."
It's true that this is a self-inflicted serious injury. It was my idea to go on this ride. But that doesn't mean I'm not scarred for life. I have a nagging fear of heights now that I never had before.
It's an inconsistent fear, too. I still love rollercoasters but I'm terrified of the ferris wheel. I can fly in a plane, but my palms sweat just thinking about riding one of those relaxing ski-lift type rides. I can enjoy lunch at the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas but don't think for a second that I'm going to go skydiving anytime during this lifetime.
We visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk last weekend with some friends. The Boardwalk has added a new attraction called "Double Shot." It's a 125-foot drop tower with a twist. Unlike most drop tower rides which build anticipation (read: terror) by a slow ride to the top followed by a single free fall, this tower uses huge pistons to launch the riders to the top over and over again.
Looks like it would be fun. To watch someone else ride.
The manipulation that got me onto this ride was shrewd and cunningly executed by all parties. I knew Brett would want to ride "Double Shot" but figured no one else would want to. When the time came, I'd simply explain that neither I, nor our friends, were interested and he should just take one for the team and move along. I'd appeal to his sense of cooperation and fairness.
When we reached the end of the Boardwalk, we'd only been on one ride. "Double Shot" loomed before us. "Oh yeah!" cried Brett. "Let's get in line!" Our friends didn't hem and haw about this one. No "we'll see" or "maybe later." Nope. Negatory. No way. No siree bob. Flat out refusal.
All Brett had to do was look at me with his big brown eyes. He knew he had me. I couldn't refuse.
Despite my example, our friends chose not to ride. They did record our ride on the cellphone, though. It's not a great video. Our faces are in shadow. But some would say it was worth it. Worth it for my violent, involuntary, uncontrollable screaming.