To quote one of my favorite singer-songwriters Sarah Bareilles, “It was a pretty good bad idea”. Or maybe in our case, it was a pretty bad good idea. It was the Better Half. It was all her fault.
OK, I admit I figured it would be fun to go to a town Fair on the long weekend, you know, just to wander around an “old fashioned” small midway and check out the corn dogs, but it was the B. H. who came up with the idea in the first place. “Come on!” she said. “Let’s just do it!” I wasn’t so sure. “They have corn dogs,” she said, and twenty minutes later we were in the car on the way to the fair. Like a couple of teenagers. This exuberant youthful energy would prove to be our undoing. It was all her fault.
So we get there and manage to find a nice parking spot approximately 7.5 kilometers away from the Fair but at that point we didn’t really mind on account of our exuberance. We finally wander into the Fairgrounds and sure enough there is a nice small old fashioned-type midway and, I noticed right away, a place selling corn dogs. So far so good.
Oh, and of course there were all the essential rides such as The Sizzler (which we use to call The Scrambler), the Space Wheel (which we used to call The Roundup), and The Zipper (which we used to call The Zipper). Also several more “modern” evil death-machine rides that were clearly designed by a mad scientist and a certified masochist.
So this was all very exciting as Fairs always are, and still fairly full of youthful exuberance we circumnavigated the entire midway until the corn dog place was suddenly right there in front of us.
“Look!” she says, delicately nibbling on a corn dog. “What?” I mumble, having stuffed most of mine. “The Tilt-A-Whirl!” she says, remembering her youth with exuberance, “Should we?” she says and looks at me with a look that says “We should”. Like I said, the whole thing was her fault.
So I wolf my corn dog and she sparrows hers and somehow we find ourselves sitting in the large red shell of a Tilt-A-Whirl “car”, looking at each other with a stunned, semi-terrified look that clearly said: “Are we CRAZY…???” (Answer: Yes.)
The Carney running the ride looks right at us, clearly the oldest riders he’s seen all day (possible all year) and grins a semi-evil grin. He obviously knows that we haven’t ridden the Tilt-A-Whirl since before electricity was invented and suddenly we are moving and BOOM we are spinning. A startlingly intense 12G centrifugal force whirl. The first Mach One spin lasts about four days, and neither of us are breathing because we are giggling uncontrollably and we’re rattling around and tilting and spinning again even faster and longer and the B.H. is looking decidedly green and I seem to be bellowing right out loud.
The swirling twirling ride lasts 300 or so more times around the Tilt than any time riding back in our memories. When it finally grinds to a halt, we somehow manage to wobble off the thing, holding onto each other for dear life.
“I gave you a GOOD ride!” the Carney shouts to us, laughing. “You did GOOD!”
But when we flopped onto a nearby bench which wouldn’t stop moving, we knew the whole Tilt-A-Whirl was a huge case of over-optimistic misjudgment. The B.H. seems to still be whirling a bit. And worse, the corn dogs weren’t sitting so well either.
“They should call it ‘The Tilt-A-Hurl”, she groans.
I blame the whole thing on her youthful exuberance.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.