I went with friends to a theme park yesterday. Great place, friendly staff, lots to do. So many things, in fact, that I’ll merge them all into one. This could be the greatest ride in the world. Hold on tight.
You get on after buying the entrance ticket. The ride starts off slowly at first, allowing you to see the full extent of what awaits you. It gives you the opportunity to top up with sugars, caffeine, saturated fat and salt and takes you on a short circuit of the park. Then, without warning, it starts to rise steeply and the carriage slows, anticipation building as you wait for the inevitable drop. At the top, you teeter for a moment on the edge of indecision – which thing shall I see first? – and then the rush starts.
In a blur you race down at breakneck speed, caffeine and sugar surging through your veins. Look, an amusement arcade flashes past giving you barely enough time to fire some coins into the slot before you’re off again, spinning around and battering your way through the crowds of screaming school kids. Quick, there’s a ‘shoot em up’ arcade game; look, air disc hockey; a train, animals, lights, water. The ride lurches around and you’re upside down. Below you, in the vomit zone, there are meerkats, an adventure playground with swings and slides and ladders, boats, bikes. Diiinooosaaaurrrrs! Woosh, down it screams, like you do, in an impossible dive and you feel you’re not going to pull out quickly enough to avoid the hyper hot dog barf burger outlet.
But you need the energy and the ride needs more fuel, too. The fast food is so fast it’s in your hands before you know it and in your stomach even quicker. The ride starts to clank back up again, going higher this time, way above the water and the noise and the movement and you look around trying to figure out what’s coming. Then you see it. Your stomach churns, you realise all that liquid sugar and chemicals have gone straight to your bladder. You question whether it’s acceptable to cry and you wonder how you can get off and still maintain your dignity. The inevitability of being strapped into a carriage locked onto the rails that lead to only one place hits you almost as hard as the concrete lintel would if it were 6” lower.
At the top, for a moment there is calm as the ride slows down to tease you. It’s going to be alright. Everything will be fine and you sigh your relief, ensuring no one sees you. But the ride lied. You plummet with ever increasing speed down, down, past vertical until you are heading at terminal velocity towards…
… the souvenir shop. And at the point where you are resigned to an instantaneous death by branding as you collide with a box of 500 Megaspeedforcedoominator key rings, the ride suddenly brakes and it slows, to pass rows of things you never knew you needed but which you cannot live without.
The ride is over. Clutching your Megaspeedforcedoominator key ring, you leave the platform and head towards the photo booth to see what a picture of you snapped at the point at which you realised all was lost and your life was over looks like.
It’s a photo of you at the entrance, buying your ticket.