Saturday, September 14, 2013

Memory Lane -- The Tilt-A-Whirl (Part 3 - The Final Chapter)

Greetings WYMOP readers!

Welcome to the conclusion of my epic Tilt-A-Whirl tale.

Let me repeat that: the conclusion!

That's right. You finish this week's post and you never have to hear me mention the Tilt-A-Whirl again. Ever. And the post I have for next week (already written, actually, if you don't mind me patting myself on the back a bit) is much shorter. It's like what a blog post should be. And it includes a picture of me -- what more could you ask for?

So, without further ado, I give you: The Tilt-A-Whirl -- The Final Chapter!

~ ~ * * ~ ~

I panted like I was one of the Breathing Cosbys (Click HERE if you don’t get the reference, and come out from under that rock!) and just tried to hold on until my little tour of this particular circle of hell was over. The whole time I could hear the other kids on the ride whooping it up and generally having what sounded like the best time of their lives. In fact they sounded so happy the hot dog, popcorn and soda kept trying to come out and what they were missing.

The sweat of furious concentration beaded my young brow as I focused all my will on
keeping that little door at the top of my throat firmly shut no matter how hard they pushed. You know the door I mean —  that little flapper in there that makes the glunk-glunk sound when you chug a drink. It kept going gl-gl on me, but I had set my mental shoulder to it and wasn’t letting it open for anything.

The ride ground to a halt and the attendant started walking from car to car flipping open locking levers and yanking back safety bars. When he finally got to mine he froze for a moment, eyes wide, then leapt to free me from my amusement park prison.

What he saw was a ten-year-old boy, eyes squinted tight and drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs with hypersalivation and that bell was ringing. I may have been green, I may have been blue, I may have been white as a sheet, but I was not the same healthy color I had been when I’d gotten on this torture machine, and I was making a low urk-urk sound.

He moved with alacrity. He kicked the latch, yanked the bar, and urged me out of the car and toward the exit with all the speed of a man not interested in cleaning puke off a Tilt-A-Whirl in the hot sun.

“Go! Go!” he said, flapping his arms at me like he was trying to herd chickens, afraid to
actually touch me in case the contact triggered something ‘explosive’. He shouted for the other kids to “Get out of the way!”, and they did, offering me a clear shot at the exit but for the other cars on the platform. The problem was that someone (and I point the finger directly at God on this one, that Joker) was tilting the platform this way and that, like a ship’s deck on a stormy sea.

I wove my way toward the exit, staggering this way and that, laughing faces becoming frightened every time I drew near, people ducking out of the way and trying to stay at a safe distance. The exit ramp seemed to dance about like it was trying to avoid me as well, but the more I staggered the closer it was until, finally, I had a railing in each hand and was heading down to safe, solid ground.

When I reached the end of the railings I tried to walk on my own once more. I was just fine for two whole steps before that same merry prankster (I still blame the Jesus’ Dad for this one) tipped the world and I staggered to my right, catching my knee a solid whack against the solid metal Park Department issue trash can set at the base of the ramp.

“Ouch!” I said.

Big mistake. I shouldn’t have opened my mouth.

Five minutes later I staggered away from the Tilt-A-Whirl, having spent that time watching a hot dog, popcorn, and soda, leap gleefully into that same trash can as I gripped the sides, leaned in, and shouted “Blargh!” at the top of my voice. People again got out of my way as I made my way to the sidewalk, though no one was shouting at them this time.

Maybe it was my breath?

I got to the sidewalk, paused, and threw up again. This time I was surrounded by people who hadn’t witnessed my meandering flight across the Tilt-A-Whirl platform, and it took most of them by complete surprise. Their expressions were probably priceless, but I was too busy trying not to spatter used Fruity Pebbles and milk onto my sneakers to either notice or care.

When I had finished my very public technicolor yawn, I wandered through the crowd to the telephone pole where I’d left my bike, holding my stomach and trying not to breathe. A passer-by was kind enough to hand me a few of those napkins I had scorned earlier, telling me I had something on my face. I think it was some hot dog bun, but I’ll never really be sure. I wiped off my face, then unlocked the chain securing my bike to the pole.

Then I threw up on the pole.

I got myself together again and started for home, just wanting to lie down in my own bed. Or die. Dying would have seemed good right about then. But do you remember that three paragraph digression about my bicycle? This is where it all comes clear. I threw one leg over the crotch-bar and attempted to ride away.


I started hopping along, trying to build enough momentum for me to hop up onto the pedals and ride away I hopped once, twice, th—

The bike hit the pavement with a clatter as my stomach came out for a visit again. I stood
there, hunched over with hands on knees for support, listening to the people walking past exclaim in disgust or point me out to a companion as I actively tried not to throw up on my bike, and I just wanted to die. I felt like I was. I’d come a long way from ‘the best day of my young life’.

I tried again to launch myself, hopping toward home with my teeth clamped tight shut, but it was no use. Every time I tried to get that big ol’ bike of mine moving my innards would rebel and I would lose a little bit more fluids. By this time it wasn’t like there was a lot left to come out of me —  there wasn’t anything in fact —  but that wouldn’t stop my body from giving it the old College Try.

I begged with my guts, pleaded with my stomach, told it there wasn’t anything in there, the tank had run dry and the indicator was pointing at the big red ‘E’. My guts got right back to me with “Oh, bull#$%^, I see plenty of stuff in here! Look… what’s that, a spleen?”

I am fairly certain I never had to have my appendix surgically removed because I left it on a street corner halfway between the Willows Park and home. Possibly beneficial in the long run, sure, but at the time I recall being pretty damn unhappy about it. I thought I was going to die. Was looking forward to it, in fact.

You can’t puke if you’re dead.

I staggered my bike home, trying occasionally to mount the big red Schwinn but always failing, throwing up, and walking on. Like some bizarre Hansel I left a trail behind, dropping bits as I went. This trail, however, would not be eaten by birds in the forest, but rather hosed away by the City of Salem DPW when passersby complained of the smell.

Worst. Day. Ever.

So that was my last, and let me repeat last ride on a Tilt-A-Whirl.


Do you blame me?

Oh, and the next day I got up and went about my summer like nothing had happened.

I was ten! Who cares, right?

Talk to you later!

Okay, I promise that next week's blog will be a shorter one. Much easier to read.
But until then, you can take this with you. The joke's not that funny, but the animation made me laugh:

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