Today I am grateful for amusement park rides. But you are not going to catch me on one. Ever. Not ever. So don’t look for me dangling from a broken cable on a bungie ride that is supposed to fling you from the ground to the heavens in 10 seconds at a speed of a hundred miles an hour. I get enough of a thrill maneuvering myself on an icy sidewalk, thank you very much.
I get it that a lot of people LOVE, LOVE, LOVE riding rollercoasters and all other manner of killing machines, but not me. I’m a scaredy cat on the Tilt-o-Whirl. Don’t get me near a Merry-go-Round, cuz this Mary will be puking-all-around. I give motion sickness a new meaning. Yes, sometimes just watching.
When my kids were little and I took them to the playground, plopped them on the little merry-go-round and gave them a strong push, I had to look away. I’d glance every so often to be sure they hadn’t been flung into a tree, but then I’d have to look away again.
This queasy tummy stuff probably started when I was a kid. My parents both smoked cigarettes. Dad liked Camels and mom liked Belair Menthol. One set of grandparents lived 50 miles away, so road trips were common. Maybe only twice a year, but too often for me.
Mom would spray herself with Avon’s, To A Wild Rose perfume like she was exterminating an infestation of termites. You could smell her from two miles away, like the tanning factory, sans the decaying animal odor. She also had her hair “done” every week. In order to make that helmet last, she’d spray it with layer after layer of Aqua Net aerosol hair spray. Yuk. And because of the complications of that hairdo we could never have the windows open or the wind would mess up her hair. As if! She could have been plunged into Lake Michigan and that hair wouldn’t have moved.
Take all of the above and jam it into an old car with small windows. Throw me and my sister in the back seat where I can barely even see out of the window. Then wait while the adults light up. “Mom, I’m dying here from the smoke!” I’d whine as only I can.
“Oh be quiet! There is not that much smoke! I have the wing window open. Sit back and shut up,” she’d say, and off we’d go, with me already green and ready to wretch before we left the driveway.
“I’m gonna puke,” I’d say, by the time we got to the two-lane highway a mile away. “I’m really gonna puke!”
“Don’t think about it,” my mom would say. What? It’s all I can think about. I can’t think about anything else except to wonder if perfume and hairspray and cigarettes can be considered toxic and a form of child abuse and if they are where would I go anyway?
“I’m trying,” I’d say three minutes later. “But I’m really gonna barf!” You can feel it coming and no amount of head games will stop it.
“Willie,” mom would shriek. “Did you stick a Piggly Wiggly bag back there just in case?” He’d say no and an argument would ensue over whose job it was to remember the Piggly Wiggly bag in case Mary barfed. He’d tap-tap on the brake and the wafts of stench would wrap around my throat like a demons claw until finally it was too late and I’d barf all over the back seat.
Once the car was pulled over and the shouting about cleaning up the mess was in full force and my poor sister was trying to become one with the car door to get away from me and it, I felt better. But not in the car. Walking along the side of the highway. I would have rather walked the 50 miles than be stuck in that deathtrap of a car. Eventually I was given the front seat and my mom was in back. I was allowed to have the window open a crack and stuck my nose out of it like a beagle and then everything was fine.
I thought I was over that motion sickness nonsense until I went on a fishing boat on the questionable Atlantic, off of Cape May. It wasn’t pretty. It was maybe four years ago and I was a total embarrassment to myself and my group. Ugly doesn’t describe it. . .and I’m not going to describe it further. Let’s just say that I would have paid anyone $2,000 to lift me OFF of that boat via helicopter and winch! That’s a ride I would have gone on!
So all of you out there who love amusement park rides go ahead and have a great time being flung into the Twilight Zone without me. I’ll be on the ground, looking away, with my fingers poised to hit 911. Because I don’t do rides and if you are standing underneath one looking up, you can be grateful I don’t.