Adrenaline junkie is not exactly my middle name.
But I am not one to shy away from a tough assignment or go the safe route.
I like to test my limits.
So when I heard the Zipper thrill ride was returning to the midway at Westerner Days, I knew I would be there.
The Zipper has a long oblong frame that rotates like a Ferris Wheel with 12 free-flipping cars. Each passenger is caged in on a bench for two. The famous (or infamous) ride has been around since the 1970s.
In my mind it will be forever known as the ride that nearly ended me.
On Thursday afternoon I lined up for the Zipper. I chatted with a bunch of teenagers. One woman, about my age, laughed when I told her I was on assignment for the newspaper.
“You won’t catch me on that thing,” she laughed.
Fortunately, Hailey Randall, 15, from Leslieville, volunteered to ride the Zipper with me. Randall and her friends had been on the ride twice and were going up for a third time.
Randall asked if me if I am afraid of heights after the carnie fastened the cage door shut. I responded with a confident, “No way. Nothing fazes me.”
Randall begins her play-by-play with “Now we are at the top” followed by “Now we are moving.”
She continues with (now they are) amusing adlibs throughout the ride with “Now we’re going in this direction” and “Now we are going upside down.” At the time I was thinking: “Make it stop, make it stop.”
My eyes are glued shut. I am screaming, and there are words coming out of my mouth that are definitely not PG. Randall has her eyes open and is laughing hysterically at my breakdown. It wasn’t my finest moment.
I really, really thought this was the end. All I remember is being tossed up and down, front and backwards. I felt like I was going to fly out of the seat and be launched into the sky. My eyes were closed so I really do not know what was happening for the duration of the ride.
I accepted a hand from the carnie as I tried to gain my footing on the ground. My legs were wobbly and my throat was hoarse from screaming. I needed a hug.
Back at the office, I am recounting my experience to my coworkers. I didn’t receive much sympathy because they are used to my dramatic storytelling.
So would I do it again? Not on your life!