Too Old for Roller Coasters


There’s a general rule of thumb when taking public transportation in New York: Never trust an empty seat on a crowded subway. “Oh, lucky me!” you might think, having wrongly assumed that you’ve been furnished with a coveted piece of private land for the long journey home. You sit down, fielding the cryptic stares of strangers. Your hubris will be punished when you realize that you have sat down next to the muttering schizophrenic everyone’s been wiser to avoid and that the five-foot radius extending from you, the new epicenter, wreaks of a lethal combination of feces and old trash.

And so I should have known better when we saw that the line for The Dark Knight ride at Six Flags New Jersey was all but non-existent. In fact, I have never seen fewer people waiting to get on a roller coaster in all my twenty-something years of visiting theme parks. “This is either going to be a diamond-in-the-rough,” said a friend, “or the worst ever.” As it turns out, it was the latter. Five whiplash inducing U-turns later – done in quick succession so as to ensure extreme, unrecoverable discomfort – we emerged, rubbing our necks and crying “Why? Why? Why?”

These are questions for which there are no answers.

As a child, I remember being much more buoyant and pliable, like a four-foot tall, highly agreeable Gumby with blonde hair and white sneakers. Roller coasters never fazed me. I was in it to win it, all guts and glory. I don’t recall ever crawling to the car after a long day at the park and curling into the fetal position, as I did this weekend, a grown adult who made the mistake of riding Bizarro two times, back-to-back.

This, of course, was the vomitous cherry on top of the ride cake, having taken my turn at Nitro (I swear I blacked out at least twice), El Toro (had mild, unfounded concerns of decapitation), and Kingda Ka (actually, to be honest, I watched this one from the sidelines, given its supposed history of killing people). And if the rides don’t make you sick, the food sure will. I can imagine nothing worse than sitting down to a hot bucket of crispy chicken and French fries after being tossed around like a rag doll, only to wipe off your greasy hands and make your way to the next ride. It’s a miracle this place isn’t coated in sick.

As the day wore on and my nausea became persistent as a heartbeat, I realized that I am not cut out for this anymore. Heading back to New York, surrounded by friends who had obviously fared better, I felt as though the contents of my brain had been violently shaken, my organs shifted to foreign parts of my body. There will be no more rides for this old lady, save for the subway, of course, where I will, from this point forward, gladly sit next to any rambling lunatic, in any horrific stench.– Jenny Bahn

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