Seri is a girl who knows what she can and cannot handle when it comes to rides at the county fairs. Spins too fast? Not with this hair. Goes upside down? That’s not for her. In fact, I truly believe that she wore a dress to the fair just so she’d have a back-up excuse for not wanting to ride the Superman.
Which was why I was so shocked (pleasantly so) when she said she’d ride the Cobra and I didn’t even have to pout, make her feel like a failure as a friend, or play the “Remember when I saved your life?” game to get her on it.
Granted, when she asked me if that ride was OK, I might have omitted the part where it makes your head feel like Jeffrey Dahmer is all up in there with an egg whisk.
We got in line just as the carny was letting everyone off the ride, which was good because that meant she wouldn’t have to see it in action and how it makes everyone’s face look like they’ve just been photographed after watching the video in “The Ring.” The carny then walked over to the gate, but instead of letting us on, he left.
Just walked away without a word.
After a minute or two, the people in front of us split. Then everyone behind us gave up too. I knew that the moment we left the line the carny would come back, so I insisted we wait it out. “He’s probably just in the bathroom,” I said, and then immediately made myself stop thinking about what he was doing to himself in there. He returned a few minutes later. Of course he did, what else has he got to do?
OK. Don’t answer that.
When he came over to lower our safety bar, he remarked on my fading hand stamp and said, “You should go and ask them to re-stamp that” and something about how “some people here are assholes”; he went on to mumble about how I might be accused of stamping my own hand my pressing it against someone else’s stamp. I really have no idea what he was going on about, but I was certainly lapping up the attention. I love it when carnies talk to me!
And then he proceeded to tell every single motherfucker on that ride the same exact cautionary tale while Seri laughed at me. I almost couldn’t hear her over the sound of my heart SHATTERING.
The bad thing about rides like this is that it’s similar to a ferris wheel or the Octopus in that there is a lot of idle time while all of the other seats are being filled. So for a good five minutes, we were suspended in the air while the seats on the other side of the Cobra were filled. (Thank god I got to listen to a happy Seri sing “Nothing Compares 2 U” during this.) This took twice as long because he had to have his little conference with every fucking rider, warning them about fading hand stamps, after which the ride finally started, but almost in a slow-motion pace.
“This isn’t that bad!” Seri laughed, still happy, but I knew that this wasn’t right. The ride was going so slow that we could have pulled out a deck of cards and had a heated game of Spades going if I knew how to play Spades. The carny was standing next to the controls, looking up at all of us with the scariest smile on his face, like he was the Cheshire cat and we were a bunch of trapped mice. He was totally fucking with us.
Then he stopped the ride so our side was back down on the ground, just so he could fill two seats that he left empty.
“Are you fucking kidding me!?” I yelled, because I had pointed this out earlier to Seri, after he initially fastened everyone in on our side. I didn’t understand why he didn’t fill those seats when there were still people waiting in line. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT BEING A CARNY. It wasn’t until these seats were filled that the ride kicked in on full throttle and suddenly Seri wasn’t singing anymore. It was all “OMG ERIN!!!” from here on out, no melody, no joy. Her throwing up on me was a legitimate concern.
Imagine you’re on a ski lift in outer space and then it detaches because some asshole Jedi engineer was drunk when he designed it, and suddenly you find yourself in a manic spiraling free fall into a black hole; you’re spinning so fast that your eyes literally cannot keep up with the direction your head is being pushed and maybe you’re mistaken but it really sounds like your brain is sloshing against your skull.
Yet somehow, this is fun and you’re laughing! (Maybe I’m speaking for myself, because I’m pretty sure Seri was crying and on the precipice of unconsciousness.) And then once the ride stops and you’re put out of your misery, you’re stuck suspended in limbo while the fucking carny lets off everyone on the other side, even though you’ve been sitting on this ride longer than anyone else. And even though Seri’s brain is oozing out of her nose, she still finds a way to sing along to MILEY FUCKING CYRUS and you start to wonder if you could survive the 20 foot fall onto the cement, a/k/a Step 2 of the Cobra Escape Plan.
Meanwhile, Pete was standing at the fence, this totally appalled look on his face as he watched the carny stop and chat with every person after unlatching their safety bar, and then replacing them with new riders who got the Hand Stamp Mission Statement while we were still suspended in miserable vertigo. And then the carny walked over and warned Pete and Henry about the hand stamps, too.
Henry totally didn’t care about our anguish, though. I might be mistaken, but I thought I saw him palm the carny $10, a condom and 2 Slim Jims to keep us up there longer.
Finally, we were released from our pseudo-cages. “You’re horrible!” I yelled at him, and he acted all taken aback, like no one had ever thought a carny was horrible before.
Later, I approached him for a picture. “I just want to always remember this day,” I lied to him as he posed. “You’re totally the best carny here.”
He laughed and said something as he walked away, but I don’t speak carny so all I heard was, “I’mma hog tie you on a mound of empty Skoal cans behind the toilets and poke you with my yucky-stick.”
After that, we walked over to where some amazing animal show was going to happen in ten minutes, which was really 35 minutes, with reminders every 5 minutes that the show was starting in 10 minutes. Circus time is really confusing.
Thank god they deployed a vendor from the back to carry around a tray of $2 sno-cones.
I didn’t really want a sno-cone, but Henry wouldn’t get me anything to drink because “The show is going to start in 10 circus minutes!” and the invisible announcer kept saying, “GETCHUR SNO-CONES BEFORE THE SHOW! NOTHING LIKE A NICE, ICY COLD SNO-CONE TO MAKE YOU FORGET THAT WE KEEP OUR ANIMALS IN CRAMPED CAGES! YOU’RE TOTALLY PAYING $2 FOR ICE MADE FROM HOSE WATER!”
“I want one!” I whined to Henry, who made the biggest deal about not wanting to buy me a sno-cone after EVERYTHING I DO FOR HIM. (Or maybe it was more like, “After everything I’ve done to him.”) But he bought one for Chooch, WTF. So all the kids got a sno-cone, and then Pete bought one for Seri so Henry knew at this point he would never hear the end of it, and managed to fish $2 out from all the hemorrhoid wipe and individually-wrapped prunes in his pockets, but now I didn’t want one anymore.
Then the fucking vendor was right behind the bleachers we were sitting on, looking at me expectantly while Henry and Seri were saying, “JUST GET A SNO-CONE OMG” and I felt so pressured so I took a goddamn sno-cone, ate approximately 5 and a half bites and then shoved it into Henry’s hands.
I wanted a blue one, not a red one.
And of course after I bought a red one, the vendor came back out with MORE BLUE ONES. I made some kind of loud, childish remark about this, causing the lady in front of me to turn around and laugh. I WAS NOT LAUGHING.
You’d think sno-cones would have been enough to placate the kids and keep them planted on the bales of hay on which they sat far, far away from us, but no. All three kept running back and climbing up the bleachers, crying about all of the other things they wanted, like bags of peanuts and cotton candy, and fuck that vendor for putting us in the Bad Parent position. Meanwhile, this goddamn show only ended up being 10 minutes long, and everyone had already devoured their treats before it even started. Way to go, vendor.
I have never seen sno-cones inspire so many tears and bad moods before. (Fine, some of those tears and probably all of the bad moods were mine.) I guess we’ll never learn.
Thank god this guy was there preaching about his make believe religion before the show.
“Go sit down. Go away.” I think sometimes the children forget that we come to these places for us, not them. God, get over yourselves, kids!
The vendor is multi-functional.
Oh, I hated this guy so bad. I love tigers (and lions!) so much but it is so excruciating to watch them get slapped around for a bunch of hicks at the county fair. Henry and I were placing bets on which tiger was going to be the one to mutilate this asshole’s Jugular. Henry said it’s totally going to be the liger.
Fuck you, Wambold.
(However, ever since that day, I have been threatening to send Marcy there every time she’s mean to me. Which is everyday. I think she’s called my bluff.)