Carnivals, amusement parks and county fairs all have something in common. Rides. Fast moving thrill rides. My parents took my sister and I to those summer activities every year. “Step right up and test your skills,” the various Carnies would yell out to get your attention. Toss rings from a distance and hope they land on a particular bottle to win a prize. Or shoot the basketballs into the moving hoops so that you could be the proud owner of a giant stuffed gorilla. Neon lights, popcorn, cotton candy, elephant ears, funnel cake, bozo and cookie circus shows, freak shows and plenty of repetitive organ music blaring loud enough to the point that it can make you dizzy and nauseous. That’s the way I felt. I liked going to these places but it could get a little overwhelming at times.
Once, my sister and I hopped on this ride (called the Enterprise, I think) because it looked fun. Van Halen music was starting to fade out in the background as Jess and I stood in line waiting to go on. The previous ride had just finished up and we were eager to hop into this 2 passenger rotating gondola experience. We thought it would be fun to spin around in a circle that eventually would be like a Ferris wheel. Well almost 90 degrees. There’s a fair amount of centrifugal force involved too. The thing is, I was unaware that the ride spins you UPSIDE DOWN. At the time it was kinda scary!!! For some reason, that fact surprised me and my sister. She wasn’t used to being upside down. But then the cage closed, the squeaky metallic hydrological arms started to propel us into a twirl of impending doom. Well maybe not that bad but I certainly felt the heavy metal vibes slowly kicking in a la Huey Lewis style…….it was 1988 (come on, give me a break! His music was the bomb back then!)
I had experienced The Demon and Tidal Wave at Six Flags Great America, so I wasn’t too worried. I think it just freaked us out. My mom was probably nearby on the ground watching in terror not realizing that this was the kind of ride we were on. It initially seemed harmless like Tilt-A-Whirl or something. Upside down rides seem to be the ultimate in terror, for many. I honestly don’t know if either of us cried. What really stood out was this music that saved me. “Walking on a Thin Line,” by Huey Lewis & The News was blasting the whole time. I felt that this song saved me. Totally 80’s sounds! Fears….nerves….sweat all began to rise. Felt like we were trying to resist but at the same time just gave up and surrendered to this carnival ride. The drum beats, guitar solos and that typical hairband type of rhythm fit perfectly with the spinning Enterprise experience! Who knows where these memories come from. But I sure had a blast!
Here’s the song: