(Post by Evan)
What is it about fear and pain that invokes our pleasure receptors? I'm sure there's a good treatise on the whole S & M thing surrounding that question, but on a simpler level, I stopped to think why on earth do any of us ever do scary things for enjoyment?
A few weeks ago we had one of the biggest adrenaline rushes that we've experienced in a real long time. There was a corporate sponsored outing at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ where we took the family for a very fun-filled day. For an October Saturday the park was pretty crowded, but the kiddie rides were fairly accessible which made Sophia, Wesley, and even Luke happy when they got to ride. Liz invited some friends of ours to accompany us. They were great companions to us and the kids. They stepped up and told me and Liz that we really needed to try one of the newer rides there, a wooden roller coaster named El Toro.
Now let me start off by saying that I love roller coasters. Always have. Wooden roller coasters are generally a different type of thrill than the new steel coasters where you do all the inverted, spiral, dangling, things which surely offer lots of thrills. With wood, I generally expect a traditional car with a lap bar combined with a bit of a rickety ride and lots of jerking turns plus a good downhill to get it all started. This coaster, for those who haven't ridden it, is, um, not traditional in that sense.
I should have known something was up when the car ahead of us kicked a guy off for whom they couldn't get the lap bar down. He was man of proportions just slightly larger than mine. I didn't think about it until they came to our car which was lit up with warning light and had two attendants try to jam the lap bar down on me. They crunched it down on me significantly and got the green light to launch finally.
Once the car left the starting gate, I knew for sure now that things were going to be different. The old-fashioned chain that agonizingly carries you to the top was nowhere to be found. Instead a high-speed drive was employed to whisk us with alacrity to the peak. We weren't in the front, but once we got a glimpse of the downhill, sheer panic and terror set in!
Like I said before I generally love roller coasters and always give up a good scream, but this one evoked an entirely new set of feelings in me. Instead of a plain scream, I think, but am not sure, that some words issued from mouth that would be typically notated in print (in family publications like this one) with the shifted number keys, if you get my drift. They weren't uttered silently either. After the initial shock of the first hill, we sped uphill where I experienced the first of several negative G's and felt my butt leave the seat. I couldn't be shut up at this point. I babbled/yelled/shouted incessantly for the rest of the ride. All I could think about was that lap bar cranked down in my lap wishing they had forced it down on me even more! Forget putting your arms up in the air--I think most people had a death grip on the handle bar.
Liz was sort of crying and whimpering and shouting during the ride. Normally I would have tried to be there for her and hold onto her and offer words of support, etc. But this was different. While cognizant of her beside me, I could only think of myself. (Sorry about that, baby.) Part of me was so hoping that the ride was over, but much to the credit of the designers, they filled it full of surprises, such as two false endings! Bravo, Intamin!
I'm usually not the kind that buys the expensive photos that you can view of yourself as you exit the ride. But this time, I made an exception. I knew I had experienced a whole new level when getting out of the car. For one, I had no voice left. I had shouted myself hoarse. Liz was dabbing the tears out of her eyes, but we both felt completely exhilariated! The look in our faces says it all, I think. (Click on photo for a closer view.)
Would I do this one again? In a heartbeat.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
(Post by Evan)