“Guys, lets go to a rodeo,” I said to my family one day. “Bullriding is a sport where people almost get trampled, and I want to see it.”
My family is well schooled in the ways of a writer and didn’t bother raising their eyebrows. They even humored me, finding a nearby rodeo and the fair/carnival it was part of.
I was excited to see enraged murder-beasts and witness near-death experiences.
Anna, on the other hand, was more interested in my death.
But we’ll get to that later.
I’d never been to a carnival before, and was under the impression that they were overblown fiascoes where rebellious teenagers show off and get drunk. I’m still not convinced they aren’t, but small-town carnivals are a brand all their own. There were families, not just teenagers. The place was clean. (Sort of.) A nice little old man offered to drive us around in his golf-cart. They even had mounted police directing traffic.
(Mom was fascinated by these equine-riding individuals, and being herself, tried taking their picture.)
(An unsuspecting Sarah somehow got in the way.)
I’m not sure when the idea that we should try some of the rides was birthed, but Anna is an enthusiastic supporter of adventurous, thrilling, and possibly dangerous recreational activities. As for me, I have an underdeveloped fear complex and for once in my life didn’t object to her wild ideas.
Anyway, what could possibly be threatening about a ferris wheel? I’ve always wanted to go on one, and here was my chance.
“If you die on that thing, I’m going to kill you,” said mom, who has a fear of heights. “You won’t find me bobbling around in one of those creepy little carriages!”
Two minutes later:
Seeing an opportunity, Anna proceeded to make it worse.
During this ride, I discovered an invaluable fact about myself: I’m not scared of heights. Not in the slightest bit. In fact, after our cloud soaring was done, I was totally game when Anna suggested we do another one. This time, we found a big swingy thing that takes you way up into the sky and spins you around until up seems down and discombobulation becomes reality.
“I’m REALLY not going on this one, and you can’t make me,” declared a passionate mom.
When Anna & I reached the height of our ascent and were in the process of being spun like a wet dish-rag, I glanced at the seat behind me. Lo and behold, there was mom, hunched in the chair like a beleaguered capybara as dad sat grinning beside her.
The poor woman just can’t get what she wants.
We let her off the hook with this one. It’s one of those centrifugal force contraptions where you spin at the speed of light with nary a seat belt or safety bar in sight. I used to scoff at people who got on these things because… no seat belts… how stupid and unsafe… duh.
I was pleasantly shocked to learn firsthand that science does, in fact, work.
The weirdest experience in life is when you’re so glued down by inertia that even your pudgy little cheeks are trying to stick themselves to the wall behind you.
After this, Anna decided we should be a little more daring. “Let’s do that over there!” she yelled, and before I could get my bearings, grabbed my hand and dragged me toward…
How about no.
Like I said earlier, I have an underdeveloped fear instinct when it comes to these kinds of thrill rides. Maybe because I’m an INTJ or maybe because I’m just plain stupid, but I can compartmentalize the frightening aspects of being whirled around through unmentionable heights at illegal speeds. These things simply don’t bother me. I find them fun.
But this… this was a class all it’s own. This takes you upside down and then STOPS, leaving you hanging there. Being prone to both headaches and carsickness, I was like, yeah, no, we’re not doing that.
I tried to resist.
Anna taught me that resistance is futile.
After only thirty seconds on this thing, I dubbed it the Demon Wheel of Doom and Death. The seatbelts weren’t quiiiiiite tight enough, so every time it took you upside down, we’d drop — not very far, but just enough to trick our brains into thinking we were falling.
Eternity became real to me. In that two minute ride, I learned things about prayer eighteen years of life couldn’t teach me. The phrase, “WHY DID YOU MAKE ME DO THIS???” was bellowed at Anna 327 times in rapid succession
Miraculously, we survived.
And I promptly excommunicated my sister from my life.
From that point on, everything else seemed like a kiddie ride in comparison.
Anna’s thirst for thrills was finally satisfied, and we made our way to where the rodeo was being held. This was by far the main attraction for me; all my life I’d had a compelling desire to see people willingly cast themselves in the path of death by a rampaging, 2,000 lbs. beast, and at long last, the dream was becoming reality.
I was not, however, prepared for the amount of country music I’d have to listen to in the process.
It was a small price to pay, however, for at long last the event began. I waited with baited breath as the first rider was announced, the chute opened, and out thundered…
…that be a horse.
I voiced my complaint in demure, sophisticated tones:
“WHERE’S THE RAMPAGING BULL???”
We sat through two hours of sickeningly twangy country music and inept barrel-racers as we waited for those stupid bulls. They came at the VERY END of the rodeo. But despite the wait, I was not disappointed. Thirteen people (yes, I counted) met a sad fate of colliding with dirt. It was epic.
(The dude wearing hot-pink lasted all of 0.003 seconds, and never have I taken more joy in someone else’s failure than at that moment.)
The sun had set by this point and the place was coated in enough lights to give me a headache. Before we left, we decided to take one last swing through all the rides (minus the Spherical Bringer of Doom) and convinced dad to get on the centrifugal force thingy with us.
And I must say, despite being able to compartmentalize how strange a situation your body is in, there’s a certain part of your brain that can never quite dismiss the fact that if those rides broke down, you’d be flung to an immediate death. This knowledge haunts you when you’re on them. And though you know it probably won’t happen, you still can’t help thinking… what if…
Halfway into our (seatbeltless) ride, the lights flickered and went out.
This resulted in instantaneous panic.
Half a second later backup lamps went on and the ride proceeded like nothing had happened, but I have never been so happy to get off a machine in my entire life.
Let it be known that if I’d died, it would’ve been Anna’s fault for dragging me onto those things.
Also, I found the animal representation of my life:
This foal understands me.
And THAT, my friends, concludes yet another adventure. Have you guys been to a rodeo before? Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s mildly fascinated by the concept of near-death experiences for the sake of entertainment. It’s like the Hunger Games, except with bulls instead of scientifically mutated Gollum creatures.
Fun stuff, amiright??
*coughs into sleeve*