Archive » August 2, 2007
By Ernie Witham
An Up and Down Family Day
A lot of things come to mind when you are flying headfirst, straight down at somewhere near the speed of light. Blood for one.
“Hello brain? This is Ernie’s left foot. It’s cold up here without any blood. And why am I up while you’re down? What’s that fool Ernie gotten us into now?”
“Can’t talk now foot. Too busy praying.”
Other things that come to mind during impending death include thoughts of insurance policies you should have purchased. Words you should have said out loud to that big guy with the shaved tattooed head who cut you off on the freeway. And things you wished you would have deleted off your computer to avoid all that tsk-tsking at your memorial service.
“I heard he had unspeakable videos on his desktop.”
“You don’t mean…?”
“Yup. Every Barry Manilow special ever televised.”
How did I get into such a life-altering predicament? Two words – Shane & Ashley. Shane is my son and Ashley is my granddaughter. They came out for a visit from New Hampshire and wanted to do something exciting.
“Table tennis?” I suggested. “Backyard croquet? Or how about going to see the live butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History? Some of them are more than three inches long and they flutter right up to you!”
That’s when Shane brought up Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. “They have some of the highest, fastest roller coasters in the world. People die riding them all the time. Is that cool or what?”
I turned quickly to Ashley. “What’ve you got?”
“We could go to the mall and shop,” she said.
I picked Magic Mountain. If you’ve ever shopped for twelve straight hours with a teenage girl in stores that feature a thousand outfits that look exactly like the one she’s already wearing and play music at volumes that can be detected on the Space Shuttle, I’m sure you understand.
“Brain? Foot again. I think I just saw an eagle. Is that the ground way down there? Hello?”
We started the day slowly on a ride named Scream! that featured a Zero-G Roll and Interlocking Corkscrews. Then we went on Riddler’s Revenge, a roller coaster you stand up on. That’s so you can readily see the four ominous loops just before you fly over them. Speaking of flies, I think I swallowed one. Either that or it was an earring from the woman in front of me. Guess I’ll know in a few days.
Not wanting the fun to end, we went on Batman, which offered a Heartline Spin and two Wing-Overs as well as five inversions. I was beside myself with joy.
Next came Viper, which boasted of a Boomerang that people kept coming back for, and Ninja where your feet dangled – often above your head. We even went on Roaring Rapids and Tidal Wave so we could cool off and experience near drowning.
“Brain? Was that you that just passed me? How can you see with our tongue covering your eyes like that?”
Back to the present, which may also be the past. I’ve been ass over teakettle so many times I can’t decide anymore. I do remember one word: Tatsu. It’s Japanese for “Flying Beast.” I remember hearing the instructions: “No bags, purses, cameras, sandals, sunglasses or anything else loose allowed on Tatsu.” I remember an older gentleman taking out his teeth and putting them on a shelf. I remember getting strapped in.
“Hey this isn’t so bad,” I said to Shane, just before they turned us from a sitting position to what they referred to as a unique "horizontal to earth" flying position. I remember seeing all the gum on the ground that must have fallen out when people gasped. Finally I remember the words on the brochure:
“On Tatsu you fly through a series of plunges, huge sweeping spirals, stomach wrenching loops and sharp dives, all designed to enhance the ultimate sensation of flight. I also remember screaming for three straight minutes without taking a breath.
“Feet? You still there? This is Brain. I think we’re slowing down! We lived!”
“Wanna do that one again?” Ashley asked.
I looked up at her.
“I mean when you are done kissing the ground and all.”
“I hate to say this, but I think I’m ready for shopping again.”
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