Monday, May 14, 2012

It's Been a While!

Although it may seem like it, my blog hasn't been totally abandoned. It's just that I've been busy (same song, 4th or 5th verse.)

But I think what you're about to read will make up for the time I've been out-of-pocket. Note that it is a LONG read, but well worth it if you're in need a some really good belly laughs.

Last week G4 celebrated his 10th birthday. I made a trip to Oklahoma City this past weekend and took him and Son to Frontier City to celebrate the big event.

G4 thought he would like to ride Geronimo. Son, being the great dad he is, rallied to the request and took him on the ride. (Side note: when Son and Daughter were growing up I didn't want them to be afraid of trying new things. So I sucked it up on more than one occasion and took them on thrill rides telling them how much fun we were about to have while silently praying that God would protect me. And them too. They, of course, loved every ride.)

We float through the air with the greatest of ease.
I had a lot of fun watching father and son experience Geronimo while taking pictures as fast as I possibly could. I wish I had been able to video it too! (There are videos on YouTube of this ride in case you'd might want to see what it's like. Just search Geronimo Frontier City.)

Anyway, this morning Son posted an account of the experience from his (HYSTERICAL!!!!) point of view on Facebook for all his friends to read. I asked if I might share it with you all (I hope there's still a couple of you out there) and he said that was fine. So, with no further ado, I give you -

My Big Fat Geronimo Swing Near Death Experience

As a set-up to what I'm about to write, here's a couple facts you need to know:

1. My mother took my (now) 10-year-old son, Jonathan, and me to Frontier City last Saturday, May 12, as Jonathan's birthday present from my parents.

Jonathan LOVES to ride rides. All of them. I enjoy them all too, if I'm wearing my motion-sickness patch thing behind my ear. Getting older SUCKS. But the patch--while horrifically expensive--works wonders.

I am *terrified* of heights. Yet I still love roller coasters. Go figure.

Jonathan IS NOT afraid of heights.

All I'd eaten that day was two bananas for breakfast. This will come into play later.

I'd also drank a souvenir cup filled with water. This, too, will come into play later.
There is a ride at Frontier City called the Geronimo Sky Coaster. Or Skycoaster. Or SkyCoaster. No idea how to spell it. It's not that important. For two people to ride it, with tax, it's about $25. And Jonathan wanted to ride it. With me. So, being the "I've got to make sure my kids don't know how much of a wuss I am" type of person, I agreed to take him on it. All the while praying that he would back out at the last second.

He did not.

So, at 3:20pm (our appointment time), we walked into the little hut thing where they strap you into your straight jacket harness thing. A guy with a fairly good English accent (but you could still tell it wasn't authentic--so I'll call him Faux English) met us, and put these things on us. You know those lead sheets they make you put over yourself at the dentist's office when they're going to take x-rays of your teeth? This harness is like that, just with about nine hundred more straps, buckles, and a stirrup attached to it. Mine was red, Jonathan's was pink. Red is the largest one, pink is the smallest one. Jonathan wasn't happy about wearing pink, but he got over it. Hey, he's a tiny 10 year old. About the size of a normal-sized 8 year old. Sometimes life sucks like that.

So Faux English asks which one of us was going to pull the rip cord, and which one of us was going to grab the loop. No idea what he meant by the "loop," but because it was Jonathan's birthday present, he would be the one to pull the rip cord. I asked about the loop, and FE said that, when we were near the end of the ride, they would put this loop out for one of us to grab onto to slow us down so we could get off. He said it would feel like trying to pick up a 50lb suitcase. Because Jonathan doesn't weigh 50lbs, and because I knew I'd want to get off this thing in a hurry, I jumped at the chance to be the one to grab the loop at the end of what FE kept calling our "flight." FE then had us grab our stirrup, and wait for our turn.

My mother was sitting in the small witness stand area, waiting to take pictures of us. There was a small crowd in there, but I could see Mom, and she could see me. She mouthed something to me, but all I could make out was "do you want me to take pictures?" Of course I wanted her to take pictures. I needed someone to document that I was doing this, because it would likely NEVER!!!! HAPPEN!!!! AGAIN!!!!!

I then noticed that, because of the amount of water I'd had to drink that day, I really needed to pee, and I mouthed that to Mom. She laughed. I thought about getting out of the harness and running to the bathroom real quick (the people in front of us hadn't had their "flight" yet), but because of how difficult it is to get into the straight jacket, I decided to wait until afterwards. Besides, it would give me something to concentrate on rather than the stupidity I was already feeling.

I did take the opportunity to tell Jonathan and FE that, if I wet myself, Jonathan was buying me a new pair of underwear and shorts. FE laughed.

Then walked us to our doom.

We made the walk out to this rolling hangman-esque platform, climbed the seven stairs (yes, I counted them), and were standing at this railing, looking out into this green pond and a large circular wooden platform that I honestly have no idea what it's used for. Making a quick calculation, I figured out what purpose I would make of that platform. When the string we're going to be attached to snaps, that's pretty much where I'll land. I didn't think I could stick the landing, other than to possibly plummet through it, thereby leaving this life in some kind of demented Grand Finale.

Because Jonathan is so short, they had this little bench thing for him to stand on, me standing beside him, and someone's behind us hooking us up to this piece of yarn no larger than the tip of my pinkie fingernail. There are three guys in front of us, on the ground. We were about seven feet up, as they could easily stand directly beneath us without brushing the tops of their heads against our feet. The obvious leader of this motley crew has those long rat's nest dreadlock thing going on on his head. I'll call him Rat Fink, because it fits. Internally, I'm really trying to hold it together, because I'm seriously terrified at that moment.

Another guy (I'll call him the OBGYN for obvious reasons here in a second), took our stirrups out of our hands and helped us into them. And by that I mean he put them on the floor of the platform and had us stand on them. He told us that no matter what, make sure and keep your legs stiff so they don't come out of the stirrups. Not going to be a problem, I assured him. Oh, how right I was!

So, they get us hooked up, and Rat Fink tells us to grab the blue bar in front of us. Now, there's two bars in front of us. One is padded, the other is not. I immediately reach for the padded one. RF tells me, no, not that one. The other one. This should have been my first clue that things are probably not going to go well. But, I grabbed it, as did Jonathan. RF tells us that we're going to feel a slight tug and... I didn't hear the rest of it, because all of a sudden, my shoulders were jerked out of their sockets by this "slight tug" and we are all of a sudden parallel to the ground. It took me a minute to remember to breathe again.

At some point soon after, I hear Jonathan yelling in my ear that "DAD! YOU NEED TO GRAB THAT ROPE!" Apparently, Rat Fink had said--THREE TIMES--that I needed to grab the white rope that's laying there. I just couldn't hear him. So, I looked around, and, lo and behold, there's a white rope about a foot behind the blue bar that my fingers currently had a death grip on. Through sheer force of will, I released the bar, grabbed the rope, and then pulled it up so that Jonathan could grab it as well.

RF asked me if I had any questions. Why yes, yes I did. My number one question is, How many different ways can I die on this thing?

RF laughed, and told me that, while every ride at Frontier City has redundant backups in it, this one had the most. Somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five. There was absolutely no way we were going to die on it today.

Oh, Rat Fink. Ye of little faith. I'm absolutely positive that I can find a way to die on this thing that you've never considered. Ways that have probably never even occurred to you.

He then instructed Jonathan and I to link our arms together, and to stay that way "through [our] initial descent." After that point, we could unlock our arms, raise them, and fly. When they got us to the top, they were going to yell "3! 2! 1! GERONIMO!" and Jonathan would pull the rip cord, and we'd have the best time of our lives. Yet another reason to call him Rat Fink. Because he's a bold-faced liar.

They moved the platform back, and we started our ascent. My immediate thought was "just don't pee yourself" as I needed to go. A few seconds later, when I could see most of the major metropolitan area, it became "justdon'tpeeyourselfjustdon'tpeeyourselfjustdon'tpeeyourselfjustdon'tpeeyourselfjustdon'tpeeyourself" followed by "breathe, Jason, breathe!" as I noticed I had started to hyperventilate. And still, we were ascending. Somewhere about the time that I could make out what I'm going to assume is the Lower 48, I made the decision that, no matter what, I wasn't going to pee myself, nor was I going to scream like a little girl.

About the time my vision started going black around the outer edges from the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere where we were (I swear I could see the entirety of the Northern Hemisphere), I think I mumbled "Oh, dear God. I want to get off this thing." I say think, because Jonathan said "Yeah, Dad, I'm having second thoughts, too." A little late, son. A little late.

I remember distinctly someone (I couldn't tell who, as everyone down there were ants) yelling the code words. Jonathan asked "did he just say Geronimo?" All I could do was nod once.

And then the earth was rushing up at me at the speed of light.

I felt my entire body go completely rigid, as--truly--I planked that ride. Every muscle in my body flexed. Somewhere along the "initial descent" I noticed that there was this horrid noise emanating from the very air around me. At first, I thought it was the screaming of the wind, but then I noticed that my lungs and throat were burning. It. Was. ME.

Right before we smacked head first into the earth, I felt this jerk, and, suddenly, we were shooting up into the sky again. I did notice (as we broke the sound barrier) a very brief glimpse of a camera, and I knew it must be Mom. Right about the time when I could suddenly inhale again, we turned (arms still locked together), and started rushing towards the ground again.

Then I heard these people shouting at us to unlock our arms and fly! WHO ARE THESE FREAKS AND WHY ARE THEY TELLING US TO UNLOCK OUR ARMS?!? But then Jonathan started insisting on it.

I have no idea where I found the will to straighten out my arms, what well of will I had buried deep within me, but I did it. I unlocked my arms from Jonathan (who's arms just shot straight out!), and did my best to do the same thing.

Back and forth, we swang. (Yes, I know that's not a real word. But it's my story. Just deal with it.)

About the thousandth time of going back towards the Execution Team, RF (I believe) yelled out to me to "grab the loop."

He didn't have to tell me twice!

I stretched as far as I could towards the loop, and brushed it with my fingertips. It was just barely too far away from me. Sheer panic had long since set in, and it just successfully intensified.

RF yelled that, on the next trip back, I should be able to grab it.

So back we went, out over the grandstand area.

On every other trip back towards the grandstands, when we reached the summit of our ascent, we turned around and headed back down, face first. This time, we did not. So we were now going backwards. My stomach twinged, and I had this brief thought of "this is not good. My anti-motion-sickness patch is either gone or not working." Or, maybe, my body's ability to get motion sick is even too powerful for that tiny little band-aid patch.

As we're approaching our initial position, I started yelling "GIVE ME THE LOOP! GIVE ME THE LOOP! GIVE ME THE LOOP! GIVE ME THE LOOP!" and they pushed it out towards us. Unfortunately, because we were backwards, it was at my feet, and I couldn't reach it as my body was still in full flex mode. I did everything I could to bend in half, and I just barely hooked it with one of my middle fingers, but I couldn't hold on.

So back we went.

On our next trip towards the masochists, I'm yelling "GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!" and Rat Fink took the time to just shrug at me. Someone yelled that they were going to have to do it by hand.

WHAT THE CRAP (not the word I used in my head) DOES THAT MEAN?!?!?!?

So back we went.

And then I noticed that I truly wanted to vomit. If I had had anything on my stomach, I knew I would have. Fortunately, the bananas I had had for breakfast were long since gone. As it was, I could feel the bile in my throat. So, now not only am I in serious pain because every muscle in my body was still in full flex mode, I badly needed to pee, but also I wanted to vomit. I began to pray that Jesus would either let me die, or he would get me the heck (again, not the word I was using in my head) off this thing. Just trying to hold it together. For Jonathan.

We swung back towards the heathens, I'm screaming "GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!GIVEMETHELOOP!" and someone yells "TWO MORE TIMES AND I WILL!"


Yet, ever the trooper, Jonathan says "It's just twice more! You can do it, Dad!"

On the next trip back he said "now just once more!"

And, suddenly, we were done with the two trips.

But there was no loop.

The Rat Fink had lied to me yet again. He yelled "One more trip, and I'll get it to you!"

I had long since given up all hope of getting off this "ride" alive by this time.

And we made the trip again.

Lo and behold, on the trip back, I could see the loop. PRAISE JESUS!!!!! My hands shot out, and missed.

RF yelled "NEXT TIME!", so I died a little, made another trip, and, this time, successfully grabbed onto this loop like it was the only thing left in the universe. I felt my shoulders tug a little, but, honestly, I was so awash in relief that I was getting off this Ride To Hell that it didn't bother me. So, I have no idea if it was like picking up a 50lb suitcase or not.

I don't remember them getting the rolling platform under us, nor how I came to a standing position. The next thing I know is that I'm once again unhooked from that string, holding my stirrup, and OBGYN is telling me to go down the stairs. I began to panic, as I couldn't find Jonathan. OBGYN said he had already gone back to the hut. Leaning heavily on the hand rail, I made it down that long flight of stairs, and took the long walk back to the hut. My mother was standing at the end of that path way, shooting pictures and telling me I'm dripping with sweat.

I hadn't noticed.

FE was in the hut, as was a de-harnessed, exhilarated Jonathan, who was still whooping it up he'd had such a great time. FE helped me out of the lead cape of death, and I stumbled my way out of the hut and into civilization again.

And then I really noticed that I desperately--bordering on the most needful feeling I've ever felt in my life--needed to pee.

We made the trip to the bathroom--slowly--but it still took me a couple minutes to relax enough to go. Yes, I needed to tell you that. Just as the icing on top of this particularly grim cupcake.

I met Mom and Jonathan when I got back out of the bathroom, and Mom called Dad, then had me tell him of my experience. She laughed the entire time.

But, I made it. I rode that thing. And I'm still alive.