I remember, as a child, my first trip to the carnival. I stood at the entrance, my small hand held firmly by a larger one belonging to a much more confident adult, as I took in my surroundings. The flashing lights, the music and screaming all had me gawking at anything and everything that my eyes happened upon. What caught and kept my attention were the rides that seemed to torture their occupants. It still amazes me that average, ordinary people eagerly trade in the serenity and security of the ground for the chance to be tossed through the air like vegetables in a food processor. It is somewhat awe inspiring to think that at some time in history, someone thought people would enjoy the above torment. As an adult, it is precisely this thrill and excitement of having survived the ride that keeps me coming back for more.
My very first ride that day was on the ferris wheel with my aunt. Looking up at that looming monstrosity spinning the life out of its sardine-caged occupants, I was dumbstruck. It was huge, smoky and noisy if not a little intimidating. Ever since that initial impression became fossilized in my grey matter, these rides have reminded me of mythical beasts, colossal dinosaurs carrying off their screaming passengers as they would have their prey thousands of years ago. Even the droning sound of their engines brought to mind the great roar of fire-breathing dragons with smoke spewing from their exhaust-pipe nostrils.
That first ride on one of these fantastic beasts gave me an instant rush of adrenaline. As the death-defying ride started, a lump in my throat pulsed like a dislodged heart as I embarked on an adventure similar to walking the plank. As the ride gained speed, the resistance to gravity built up against my body until I was pinned to the back wall of my cage. An almost imperceptible pause as the wheel reached the top of its climb lulled my body into a false sense of security. As quickly as I had relaxed, there was an assault...
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