Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Did you see God?


I had spent the day at Six Flags and still hadn't quite gotten over it. My body held up remarkably well. At 44, I had my doubts. Three minutes on a playground swing and I'm left retching and wrecked. Other moms arrive and find me there, pale and quietly heaving. They cast a scornful eye at me, scan the ground for telltale empties, then usher their kids to the far end of the park. Even the rhythmic sloshing of the spin cycle is enough to set my belly on edge. Which is why I have no choice but to leave laundry duty to my husband.

But at Six Flags, my stomach was on its best behavior. We had an unwritten pact that I'd continue to fill it regularly if it promised not to surrender its contents in public. Or maybe it just understood that I was shelling out forty bucks for admission so it better not give me any shit. I know where it lives.

Instead, it was my psyche who decided to get uppity. I forgot to consult her going in, but she was determined to get the last word. It wasn't my fault, really. The trip to Six Flags was so spontaneous I didn't have time for a debriefing. Of course, in retrospect, I can see where she's coming from.

One minute, we were here:

A phone call later, we were here:

You can see why she may have been upset.


Sasquatch looms in the distance as you make your way north into Lake George. You see it there, a comfortable mile or two away, and think: Oil rig? Cell phone tower? Electric Substation? What you do not think is: Golly, in a minute or two my ass is going to be strapped to that motherfucker! You park the car, still a good mile from the actual park even on a slow day, and Sasquatch continues to rise in the horizon. It demands your attention, but in a completely nonthreatening way, like a Republican candidate on a presidential ballot. Oh, I see you there, but ain't no chance in hell I'm getting anywhere near you.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting on Sasquatch's lap. I'm still not sure how it happened, but my money's on Rohypnol. The first thing I remember is an apathetic seventeen-year-old named Baku. He set aside his BlackBerry just long enough to give a perfunctory tug on the scrap of fabric securing the skinny metal bars assigned the responsiblity of stopping my body from becoming a projectile. I wouldn't say Baku was bad at his job, it's just that I give more focused attention to my popcorn in the movies. What with him keeping me on this side of the morgue and all, I hoped for that extra touch. Maybe just ramp up the enthusiasm to, I don't know, awake.

As soon as Baku had jiggled the fabric between all his prisoners' passengers' legs and returned to his Shakira video, we were ready. Three seconds later, we were teetering two hundred feet above Baku, my sister, my son, and what remained of my sanity. And there we sat, precariously perched on the ledge of a twenty story building.

(Me, seated third from right.)

We were held hostage, dangling in the clouds, for somewhere between ten seconds and eternity. If I were a bigger pray-er, that would have been the time for it, what with us being walking distance to God's house and all. But instead, I limited my activity to more pressing bodily matters, like coercing an eye open and a bladder shut. Not that peeing on the strap before Baku had to touch it again would have been the worst idea of the day.

Tom Petty knew what he was talking about. The waiting is the hardest part. Except for the dropping. After the torture of being held captive in another latitude, Baku has a sudden change of heart and releases you, allowing you to free fall back down to earth. Your body knows what's coming and does its best to escape, rocketing itself upward until it strains the metal bars thrown loosely over your shoulders. Miraculously, the bars hold. Your body isn't hurled into space as you are sure it will be, but a tiny splinter of your sanity is thrown clear.

That night, I curled up in bed with my five-year-old and told him all about being up there in the sky. Fresh waves of terror churned the pit of my stomach with each detail. All he wanted to know is, "Did you see God?"

Yeah, honey. I think I did.
. .


Kyran said...

side note from an adhd mind, at least half of those guys on the beam above NYC were Newfoundlanders. Yeah, we built that city. Few else were crazy enough. Can't you just see my youngest up there?


bloorondo said...

If I ever see my youngest (onliest) up that high he'll probably be on his own.

~JarieLyn~ said...

Great story. I found it humorous, especially at the end when your son asks if you saw God. I went on a similar ride once, and though I didn't see God I kept yelling out his name with the F word attached. At least that's the story my mom tells.....I don't much remember it, except that my whole body was shaking when I got off the damn ride. I swore I'd never ride that thing again.

Jomama said...

Great telling of the story--very funny! I had a similar experience in April riding a much milder coaster. All I could think of (other than abject fear for my life) was my relief that at least I was not sitting in the FRONT my 10 and 7 year olds were. If the coaster went off the rails, they were going to go first!

Judy said...

Great story! Love the way you write, and I don't think I'm the least bit prejudiced. :)