Funny Stories about Amusement Park Rides: Boomerang
In my previous episode, Funny Stories about Amusement Park Ferris Wheels, I shared that I am height-impaired thanks to
several incidents that happened when I was a child which were then later reinforced
by another episode on the Ferris wheel in my teenage years.
I’ve also shamefully admitted that for all intents and
purposes, when I was a child, I became a bully to my younger sister. The reasons were many I suppose but facts are
facts. When it comes right down to it, although I ended up shooting myself
in the foot several times while trying to trip her up and scare the living
daylights out of her, most of the time I got away with it.
However, as the saying goes….payback’s a bitch – and don’t I
Come with me on a trip down memory lane where we’ll see my little sister finally get her sweet revenge. Somehow the name of the amusement park ride, the Boomerang, just happens to fit the bill! For a boomerang thrown after all will always return to the thrower. Little did I plan on how that would feel.
have to say I had it coming and I took it with dignity and decorum – you bet!
How I Ended up On The Boomerang
As my kids grew up, I actually had to put aside my fear of
heights several times just because my husband was amusement park impaired. I’ve never been sure if it was an actual
affliction or he just had sympathy pains for our visually impaired son who
could only go on the ‘tame’ rides. Anything involving spinning, flipping around, swerving, etc. was a
total nightmare for Patrick with his severe vision loss and usually, it ended up
that Bob and Pat went on their set of rides together.
Things like the Tilt-A-Whirl or the
Merry-Go-Round were their speed, while I was left to try and handle the more
wicked rides such as roller coasters and the like with our oldest, Jonathan and
our youngest, Katie. These 2 kids were
always into the fastest, scariest rides available and though I did not go on
ALL of them, I went on my fair share, cursing out loud many times, followed by
an immediate verbal apology to everyone on the ride, and screaming like a banshee. Alas there was no way out of it for me.
Roller coasters did not impress me much since I didn’t like
the height factor first off. Secondly,
having ridden on an old wooden roller coaster at the Seattle Space Needle amusement
park one summer day, while scared witless by the height and speed factor alone,
I had not bargained for one little additional bonus – the fact that one of my neck
vertebra locked when we slammed down at the lowest point on the
track. I could literally not turn my
head for 3 days!
All this said, I was not a huge fan of roller coasters the
older my kids got – or anything that flew around and most especially things
that had height involved or hung upside down. So how did I
end up on the Boomerang roller coaster and unsuspectingly at that? Because I’m as naive as the day is long (or
is that dumb?). I trust people and I
especially love and trust my family. I
would do just about anything for any of them and if they’re involved, I tend to
have blinders on. So here’s how it happened…..
We went to southern California on a rare vacation to my old
stomping grounds. Our oldest, Jonathan
was in junior high and I don’t have to say much along the lines of what it’s
like to have a young teen in the house. He was too cool for words and was very much into how things appeared to
the world around him – more specifically how they affected HIM and only him. He had to be total Mr. Cool at all
Patrick was his usual Patrick self. At 2-1/2 years younger
than Jon, he was just entering that delicate balance of leaving childhood and growing into a
teen. He of course had his visual
impairment, so there was no way in bloody heck he was worried about going on
scary rides, how he looked on said rides, etc. All he cared about was getting from here to there without running into
things, falling down and embarrassing himself (further).
Our daughter Katie was 17 months younger than Pat and thought
that the sun and moon set on her older brother. She wanted only to be with him and go everywhere that he was going.
As for Bob, he was just part of the parent squad. He did whatever was necessary within limits
that only he could define, and that was how we entered the amusement park that day known
as Knott’s Berry Farm – as the Kirchner family whacko unit.
I was jazzed because my sister lives in San Diego. I was ecstatic since she had made
arrangements to come with us to several places like Sea World, Disneyland,
Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm. We
had a great time that vacation and it was so neat to be able to spend time with
her. My kids absolutely adore her and that
made it even more fun.
We were cruising around the amusement park deciding what
rides to go on. By this time in my life,
I was going for ‘tame’. I actually had gone on a couple of rides or
roller coasters that hung down from tracks, went fast or were on tracks above ground – but
no rides that flipped around or went upside down. The kids had talked me into going on a
couple of these and my sister seemed to like them. However, I knew my limits.
As it turns out, my sister has no fear whatsoever of
rides that drop precipitously from the level of a 10-story building. (You will note even after all that bullying,
she was braver than me by a long shot – maybe because of it). In my mind, you’d have to scrape me off the bottom of the crate
by the time I did the drop-10-stories ride – or call an ambulance – or both.
I really hadn’t thought that much about the significant fact that she was unafraid of heights and wild rides – even when she innocently walked up to me with Katie and
Jon and said very sweetly ‘”Hey, how about you get in line with me for the
Boomerang with these two whimps and we give it a whirl?”
Having never heard of the Boomerang before
and not having seen it yet, I asked with a little bit of trepidation the question I’d asked all day…..”What kind of ride is it? Does it
go fast? Is it one of those spin-around things that make you barf or much more
importantly, is it really high?”
She laughed easily so why would I think she was putting me
on? She said with all the ease of a new
car salesman “Of course there’s not that much height involved! I know all about your
little problem with heights. And it
doesn’t spin around much at all. It’s just a tame and lame roller coaster
ride! It’s a kind of a hanging roller
coaster, that’s all and I know you can go on those because we already did the other ones.”
And then the
kicker….”Are you afraid or something?”
Okay, that snapped my garter big time! No one questions my ability to be
scared. I’ve been scared of more things
in my lifetime than Carter has pills. It
didn’t help that Katie was busily tugging at my hand and begging. “Mom, please – you just HAVE to go
– WE’RE going!!!”
Jon is looking
slightly bored about this time, as if we’re killing off his girl-watching
time standing here talking about something as lame as a roller coaster and
whether to go on it or not.
So of course I
gave in. I had to give in! I did it for my kids! Yeah right – what total crap! I did it because my sister called me out and
I wasn’t going to back down no matter what the ride was like.
Really though in my defense, I never saw the ride. Somehow she maneuvered me under the awning so
I never actually SAW the blasted ride until it was far too late. Why? Because I trusted her!
I went on her word that it was ‘not that bad’
and that it was a ‘tame and lame roller coaster ride’. Indeed!
See all 6 photos
Life on the Boomerang
She kept me talking and chatting about this and that and the
kids kept me busy the rest of the time with what would we go on next, what about
this, what about that, until I had zigzagged back and forth in line so many
times I forgot what I was in line to do!
When I stepped out onto the platform to board the beast, I
almost had a heart attack. I panicked
and quickly stepped back towards the holding area.
“There is NO way I’m going on this ride” I
heard myself say (and I’ll add here very loudly). “You didn’t tell me it was this kind of roller coaster and
there is NO WAY – did I mention that – NO WAY I’m going on this thing”.
Works like a charm….My sister pipes up “So let me get this
straight then – you’re chicken?”
Holy crap, Batman!
“Of course I’m not chicken – I have a bad neck! Remember that whole
locked facet thing? I can’t go swirling
around on this thing! What if I turn into a paraplegic when it’s over?” (This did not sound rational even to MY
Jon and Katie are both looking at me with the implied
message “COME ON”. They had better things to do than stand there waiting for
their old mom to have a heart attack worrying about a stupid ride. Not to mention Jonathan was becoming embarrassed (again).
Reluctantly, the challenge ringing in my ears, I crept
closer to the monstrosity called the Boomerang.
I grudgingly got into the blasted car next to my vengeful sister where we
were seated behind my son and my daughter. I heard the motor whir and a metal
bar clamp down as if it was a bank vault slamming shut. As it turns out, that may have been the best
part of this trip!
While I was mentally preparing myself for shooting forward
and going through the now VERY VISIBLE loop-d-loops in front of me (there were 3 I might
add), I was totally unprepared for what happened. The engines started up and before I could say
‘holy crap’ I was being sucked BACKWARDS.
Not forward as I had anticipated but backwards.
Okay – seriously? It’s not a straight shot
either. We are being sucked backwards
and upwards to the ‘starting line’ of the ride, which it just so happens is in
the crux of a million mile in the air curve. This
happened in roughly 5 seconds I imagine.
It felt like 2 years!
But as we
had started to pull away from level ground, I suddenly became very acutely aware of
my chest. Not only was I having a bloody
heart attack on an amusement park freaking roller coaster ride, but my chest
was being slammed into some brackets I hadn’t even realized were there. On second thought, after what I could see and
feel, I was sure glad they were there.
So within roughly 5 seconds, my life has gone from perfectly tame
to insane. I am hanging from a roller
coaster ride god knows how many feet in the air, and I cannot see the rest of the
car. We are just HANGING there – out
over the tracks – pressed in the roller coaster to the curve of the blasted tracks.
To say I started to
scream would be putting it mildly. I let
out with a scream that surprised even my ears.
Then we took off. We shot out of
that curl like a meteorite on its way to planet earth and I vaguely remember
thinking “Oh thank God I didn’t fall out of the blasted car and smash myself on
the tracks….ooops – There goes the landing platform’– oh – Look at that blur of
people…..oh holy crap again! Oh holy mother of all that’s insane…what have I DONE????”
We shot past the people on the platform – no doubt laughing
their butts off at the screaming going on and then shot forward at the speed
of light only to hit the 3 loop-d-loops. And there we went, spinning upside
down, zigging and zagging, held in only by a bar over our lap and a
harness and brackets! I ask you – could this REALLY be a good
I remember opening my eyes because I wanted to see where I
was going to land and die. I saw palm
trees upside down and right side up. I
think I saw heaven once or twice, and maybe Bob and Pat sitting on a bench
though they looked too small to really see and were they LAUGHING?
No time for thinking about that because we
shot up the next part of the roller coaster track (again my luck – way up high)
and this time we’re going forward. At least
that was tolerable so I thought maybe that was it….except that we’re stopping and we’re backwards on the track so this can’t be a good thing that’s going to be happening. They can’t let us out here!!
Sure enough – much to my delight, we whipped back down the track backwards now
at the speed of that same meteorite and went BACKWARDS through the loops. Oh mother of all that is holy, what did I
ever do to deserve this?
By now, by the way, I’ve
screamed since the initial scream started so I figure I screamed for at least 5
minutes solid. We’re not talking
little croaking polite screams either. We are talking all out, mouth wide open, blood
I could feel my eyes
bugging out of my head, capillaries breaking in my face! I never screamed that loud in my LIFE. And you know what I heard all the while I was
screaming? One could never imagine such cruelty! I heard LAUGHTER.
My wonderfully kind sister sat beside me laughing her head off (and
other body parts) the ENTIRE time.
Not just little guffaws either – we are talking belly laughs that went on as long as my screaming did! Knowing that I was terrified somehow made this trip all the better!!
I’m not sure how I ever survived the ride. I swear my head exploded at least once, partially from the fear but partially from the screaming. I couldn’t breathe! At least I couldn’t barf
either because I was so terrified.
the ride finally cruised to a stop on the platform and the people started to
come towards us for the next ride from hell, I couldn’t even get out of the
car. I just sat there trembling. One
of the attendants came forward to ask if I was going to scream anymore? I should have just for the heck of it but I
didn’t! I couldn’t actually!
What I did see, however, was my sister, still enjoying
herself immensely, now trying to mask her laughter with pretend concern, leaning over the seat asking if I was okay, followed by asking me if I wanted to go
around again? If I didn’t, she informed me I needed to
get off the roller coaster! That
When I finally found my legs and
was able to pull myself out of the death grip I had on the bar, I started to
disembark for places less frightening. I
joined Jon and Katie and was whispering as best I could “Do you want to go on
any more rides?” when my son turned on me like the traitor only a teenager can
be. He glares at me and then lashes out with “Get away from me! I never want to see you again. You are the MOST EMBARRASSING person I’ve ever
met! Do you know how many people were
looking at you and laughing, mom? Just
stay away from me!”
And just like
that, all indignity, he stomps off in the direction of my husband…..who happens
to be lying down on the bench laughing so hard he’s crying. I absolutely get NO respect.
About 30 minutes later, after I waited for everyone to get
done with their laughing jag, we set off though we set off our separate
ways. I was having no more of ‘gotcha’
from my sister so sent her to happily ride all the frightening rides with Jon
and Katie while I decided life on the slow side couldn’t be all that
Of course, an hour or so later, Bob
and Pat proudly presented me with a coffee mug that said “I survived the
Boomerang”. I thought about smashing it right there and then but decided it was my trophy and I
should keep it for all eternity. I had after all earned it!
Did I Mention Yahoo?
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See all 6 photos
See all 6 photos
See all 6 photos
Just before we were to meet up with my sister and our two other kids to go grab something to eat and head back home, Pat wanted to go on one more ride. Bob asked if
I’d go on the last ride of the day with him and Pat.
After the Boomerang ordeal, I hadn’t really gotten my voice back fully
yet and I was still pretty shaky about going on rides. But I couldn’t say no to Pat (or Bob for that matter), so relieved it was the last ride of the day, I said okay and
they ran to get in line. I really hadn’t checked out this ride either because I just wasn’t paying attention (again)
and I really hadn’t anticipated going on another ride – in fact probably for the rest
of my life!
We quickly got on (which should really have been a clue but
no) and we boarded a platform that looked like a floating houseboat with
seats. I happened to notice that there
was a nice Asian man sitting next to me and he smiled at me. I smiled
back. Then the ride started.
We were going around in a circle and that was
okay – at first. Suddenly though, the
speed picked up and we were going higher.
For some reason only known to yours truly, I had visions of us turning
upside down or at the very least sideways….and you guessed it! I let out a scream that almost caused the
poor Asian man to jump off the blasted ride.
He leaped about 5 feet off the seat at the first scream and then when I
kept it up, he plastered himself as far away from me as he could get, again
endangering himself and probably could have ended up causing him to be caught in the ride’s mechanism.
All I can say is that I panicked. It somehow did not register that we had no
harnesses on. It also did not register
that there was no lap bar. It also
didn’t seem to have crossed my mind that my husband and my ride-impaired son
were on this ride and they certainly would have checked it out.
All I can say in my defense is that I had
PTRS – posttraumatic ride syndrome.
lost what was left of my voice but unfortunately just before the ride
ended. Bob was laughing so hard again
that he was crying. Pat was looking at
me like I was insane (it wasn’t the first time and it certainly wasn’t the
last) – and the poor Asian fellow? He
pretty much waited for the ride to stop and bolted off the ride. He ran out
into the crowd babbling to himself.
Probably couldn’t wait to go tell his family or friends about the
lunatic he rode with on the ‘tame’ ride that got freaked out. ‘She must be on day pass from mental
institution – out with husband and son’.
I don’t have to tell you that I got some pretty weird looks
as I exited THAT particular ride.
Everyone was looking at me like I was definitely mentally
deficient. I would have told them all
about why it happened but unfortunately by now, I was so hoarse that I had NO
voice. As an epilogue to that, Bob said it was the best 3 days
he ever had since we’ve been married!
See all 6 photos
Epilogue to My Boomerang Story
So the moral of the story here? When you least expect it – no you’re not on
candid camera. Life will come around and kick your butt! Some call it karma, some call it payback – I
call it Boomerang. For actually what is
a boomerang? When you throw it, it comes
back to you.
I threw the scare card –
that was my boomerang. And my sister got me
back in spades. I always say I think the
slate has been wiped clean.
plus a few of the self-sabotaging episodes I brought on myself in my efforts to
scare her – we’re even, pal.
This story is also one of the main reasons that my friends
and family ask me to fly with them. It
only made my fear of flying more acute and I managed to take those fears on
airplanes with me as well. I don’t think
there are enough classes I could possibly take to cure these height, fright and
flight phobias but I’m working on them but not on a Ferris wheel and not on
a roller coaster!
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