Yesterday's Magazette

6 – Thrill Ride At The Fair

Thrill Ride At The Fair


Story and photo by Richard Ong

Davey and I stood awe-struck at the base of the great gigantic wheel. Our mouths hung open, with the sweltering heat and humidity dampening our brows with a heavy insulation of sweat and grime like a transparent skull-cap wrapped around our heads. As the delicious ice pop melted in our hands and dripped on our shoes, we marveled at the people who designed and built the enormous rotating structure that would convey scores of passengers up several stories into the air over the next two weeks. It was mid-August, 1983, and the annual Canadian National Exhibition fair was open for business in Toronto.

“That’s one H-U-G-E Ferris wheel, Davey,” I gushed, licking my sticky fingers and savoring the lingering sweetness on the stick.

“No kidding,” Davey said. “I can’t wait to get on it.” He grabbed me by the shirt. “But first, let’s get some grub, Rich. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast this morning.”

“What? You told me you had four peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast!”

“That was three hours ago.”

“Okay, okay. Let go of my shirt before you rip a hole in it.” Davey was the stronger of us two. Ever since I met him in Grade Ten the year before, he had always been a Bruce Lee fanatic. His locker was adorned with pictures of the late martial artist’s famous poses. He frequented the gym and never missed a workout. He even had a pair of homemade wooden nunchucks which he practiced on religiously every night. The sinewy arm that effortlessly gripped my shirt and hauled me along with it was testament to his strength.

As for myself, I was the original bespectacled ninety-pound weakling that often got sand kicked into his face.

We worked our way into the Food Pavilion and grabbed every free tasting sample of international cuisine that we could get our hands on. We ran outside the building and found a shaded bench to eat our hefty lunch. We each slurped an extra-large cup of ice cold berry flavored drink in one hand and speared our meat and pasta dishes with the other. Our stomachs were visibly bulging beneath our shirts by the time we licked the last drop of sauce on our paper plates.

“Hmmm. That sure hits the spot.” Davey loudly burped and broke wind.

“Dang, Davey!” I said, jumping off the bench. “A little warning next time, maybe?”

“Sorry.” He burped. “Are you full?”

“Are you kidding me? I’m so full I’m ready to take a nap.” I sat on the ground and yawned. I leaned back against the side of a hotdog stand and closed my eyes. I was already half asleep when I suddenly felt my teeth rattle from a violent shake.

“Richie, wake up! Don’t fall asleep, man. We have to start lining up for the rides.”

“We just ate a feast. I don’t want to get an appendicitis.”

“Look, mine’s already gone. I had my appendix taken off years ago.” He grinned and lifted his shirt to show me the scar like some grotesque badge of honor.

“I don’t want to go under the knife like you did, man,” I said.

“You worry too much, Richie. The rides are the ones that are actually moving. We’ll be sitting still, so it’s all going to be cool, okay?”

Twenty minutes later, we we’re still lined up for our first ride. While we waited in queue, Davey elbowed me at the ribs and pointed toward the blonde-haired beauty who scored a point on the horseshoe ring throw. She threw her hands in the air and yelled in delight.

“Check the skirt on that one. Whoo-wee! I got my eyes on you, baby!”

“Dude, that’s Kathleen Groves from school, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yeah, so?”

I laughed. “Forget about her, man. She’s one of the prettiest girls in our grade. All the guys are after her. She most likely brought one of her big bruiser boyfriends along.”

Davey nudged me to move on. The gate to our ride was finally visible. “Just because she’s the most popular girl in school among the guys doesn’t mean she has a stiff with her right now. You’ve got to take some risks sometimes my friend or you’ll never know whether you can score or not.” He winked.

We boarded the Caterpillar Express and we were underway as soon as the operator gave the thumbs up and the loud disco music started. I sat at the outer rim side of the car, which I learned to my dismay is the worst place to be on a centrifugal ride. The train rumbled on the tracks and gained tremendous speed. Davey kept sliding down to my side, crushing me against the small barrier on my left.

“Cut it out, man!” I shouted amidst all the screaming from the other passengers. The strong beat of the music was deafening.

“I can’t help it.” Davey laughed. “It keeps on pulling me towards you.”

There was a loud wailing noise and the train continued to accelerate in its circular path. I gripped the restraining bar till my fingers hurt, while Davey crushed me like a pancake on the side.

In a matter of minutes, the ride was over and the next thing I knew, an attendant was urging us out of our seat toward the exit. My legs felt like rubber as I stumbled down the walkway.

We tried the Swing ride next. It started out to be a more pleasant ride at the beginning with the seat suspended by chains as it swung round and round in mid-air at a moderate pace. The seats were lifted higher up in the air as it spun. Suddenly, the central structure began to tilt on one side while the speed of rotation increased. I heard someone scream and realized that it was me.

“Oh, I don’t feel so good,” I groaned. We both staggered toward the picnic benches where we had our lunch. “My legs feel numb and my arms are tingling.”

“Dude, check this out!” Davey suddenly stopped in mid-stride while I rammed against his back. “It’s her!”

“Who?” I squinted and wiped the sweat from the lens of my glasses with my shirt. I put on my glasses and realized who it was. Kathleen Groves was sitting in a lawn chair reading a magazine. She had a nice tan and a bottle of lotion on the table next to her. There was an empty chair across the table on the other side.

“Okay, watch me and learn my friend. I’m going to casually walk over there, take a seat and pretend to read a brochure.” He grabbed a guide map to the fair from a nearby information kiosk.

“You go ahead,” I said. “I don’t think I can walk anymore.” I leaned against the kiosk and took a deep breath of humid air. My lunch threatened to make a comeback up the way it came. I had never felt so sick in my life. I looked up and wondered how Davey managed to keep it all in. He ate almost as much as I did before the rides.

Davey put on his sunglasses and sat across the table from Kathleen. He crossed his legs and pretended to read the guide map on his hands.

Suddenly, a tall, athletic-looking beach boy in a muscle shirt came from out of nowhere with two plates of hotdogs in his hands. He dropped the plates on the table and bent to give Kathleen a big hug. He proceeded to smother her with kisses on the cheek and on her lips, smearing his face with her lipstick.

Davey lifted the guide map higher to cover his face, and inched the chair away from the table. He looked at me in dismay and we both laughed.

Just then, my stomach heaved and I ran as fast as my legs could carry me toward the nearest portable toilet stall.

I prayed that it wasn’t occupied.

Vol. 38 No. 1 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring- 2011


1 Comment »

  1. This was so good. I could feel the heat of the sun, and the sweaty grit on my face as I read it!

    Comment by Jean Johnson — March 1, 2011 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

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