You know that game, Roller Coaster Tycoon? The game where you build your own theme park and it’s supposed to be totally fantastical? Imagine you’re me, playing that game and getting frustrated after ten minutes, leaving half the park unpaved with rides (the cheapest ones because you’re on a budget) plunked down intermittently with little to no planning and at some point you notice that there’s a giant, gaping vacant lot between the bluegrass band playing on a shoddy stage and the cinder block arcade that smells like b.o. and cabbage and what better way to get people to form a human-worm than by dropping down a Monster Truck and offering rides, and then you start to get out of control and before you know it, you’ve built a stand shilling $7 gyros and a pavilion pawning Christian-inspired wreaths. And please make sure half of your rides aren’t running.
Now imagine this is a real life park and you know exactly what Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA is like.
And for some reason, we decided to go back. Well, the $5 admission might be a good reason.
Blake opted out this year, maybe because last year he was the equivalent of tossing Dennis Rodman into a camp of albino midgets. In Pittsburgh, he mostly doesn’t stand out. But in Altoona? A town where the inhabitants still bust out their Desert Storm sweatshirts? A town like that, someone like Blake gets more than his fair share of stares. So Alisha filled in for him, and Corey, who goes to school somewhat nearby at Pitt-Johnstown, met us out there. When he called me upon arrival at the park, I helpfully told him that I was wearing a pink hoodie.
“Because your brother hasn’t met you before?” Alisha asked snidely.
Alisha wouldn’t ride the old cars with me, choosing instead to wait for her own car. Now that I think about it, this might have been the only time all day where I wasn’t called “stupid” on a ride. Perhaps riding alone has its perks.
Oh, the Toboggan! How I missed thee. Alisha actually rode with me on this one. She bit her tongue when the car got to the top of the tunnel and I didn’t find out until later, but that didn’t make me laugh any less.
I had a crush on pretty much every boy working there, except for the yokel who was manning the Scrambler, who had Alisha and me get on first, causing us to nearly squash the shit out of my three-year-old. My right bicep was on fire afterward from all the bracing I did. And then you would think he would stick around after unlatching our car to ensure Chooch’s feet safely met the ground but NO. He walked away, leaving me to hold Chooch’s hand as he jumped off the ride, bending my arm in a way that only Gumby should be familiar with. I couldn’t hold on to his hand any longer, so he ended up FALLING OFF THE RIDE AND LANDING ON HIS BACK UNDER THE CAR.
Mother of the Motherfucking Year, right here.
Thankfully he didn’t get hurt, but I know it must have been jolting for him. He stood up and brushed himself off while I was all, “OMGOMGOMG” and Henry was standing on the other side of the fence, watching this whole spectacle, rolling his eyes at my incompetence. It was an awesome moment for the scrapbook.
He apparently wasn’t too traumatized by my Spears-ism, because he rode it again later with Corey.
Corey out-mothered me by assuring that Chooch’s feet were firmly planted on the gravel before letting go.
Leap the Dips is the oldest working roller coaster in the country or solar system or some shit. I forced Chooch to ride it, because even though he was dragging his feet, I knew he’d be ok and I really want to infuse him with coaster-lust as soon as possible so that I’ll have a ready-made riding partner at some point. I mean, this coaster is so ridiculously tame, there aren’t even any seat belts. It goes, like, 5mph. Chooch was still insisting that he didn’t want to ride it as Henry got him situated in the backseat, but I whittled away at his masculinity like any good parent would do in a situation like this, pointing out all the little GIRLS who had ridden it before him and come off enthusing and expounding the merits of this coaster granddaddy, and before he knew it, we were at the top of the hill and coasting languidly over shallow dips. I stole a few glances behind me and Chooch’s face was in a paralytic state of shock, but by the time the ride was over, he was all “Woo hoo, that was awesome.”
Chooch pulled it off with more aplomb than Corey, at least.
This photo was taken moments after Corey confessed that he made up the “life changing moment” speech he had to give in his public speaking class. Apparently, we had an Uncle John who never married and therefore treated us as his own children, so when he ended up dying of brain cancer, Corey took it tremendously hard and still wears the deathbed cross that good old unkie bestowed upon him shortly before giving up the ghost. This was the moment I realized that for sure, with no doubt, Corey is my brother.
I’m trying to get Henry to funnelcake-house our living room. It’s not going very well, but I have some secret weapons I’ve yet to unleash. And by that I mean hedge clippers and a taser.
We spent some time in the stinky, humid locker room of an arcade for some reason.
I tried to give that son of a bitchin’ lion a high-five afterward and he completely snubbed me.
People kept staring me down, giving me blatant once-overs. And I didn’t even have pink hair yet. That’s Lakemont for you.
Alisha, Corey and I rode the Monster with a mother who insisted on bringing aboard her 2-year-old daughter. I was frightened for her. And for my safety because I’ll be damned I’m getting clocked in the head by a toddler upchucked by a ride whose height restrictions she wouldn’t meet at any other respectable amusement park. Right as the ride started, Corey hollered, “Remind me to tell you something funny about September 11th!”, a statement which is #8 in the “How To Silence a Crowd” handbook. He also belted out “Vagina!” at one point and at first I was like, “Dude, there’s a small child on this ride with us!” but a quick once-over of her mother gave me gruesome sepia-toned visions of belligerent battles with a drunk husband/boyfriend over top a dinner table set with greasy buckets of fried chicken and cans of Pabst and a bathroom laden with hyperdermic needles so at that point I felt free to verbally masturbate with every cuss-combo I could think of as Alisha made our little monster tentacle pendulate so fast that I couldn’t breathe through the laughter, forcing her to yell, “You’re stupid” for the 678th time that day.
Remember last year when Blake and I rode a metal monstrosity called the Skydiver because it looked like a harmless yet fun take on a ferris wheel? And I vowed to never ride it again? And I said shit like this about it?
See this ride? This is a fucking ride built by the cooperative genius of Hitler, Satan and Mr. Burns and camouflaged behind the cute and fuzzy appearance of a ferris wheel. LOOK CLOSELY. LOOK AT THOSE CARS, JUST DANGLING THERE HARRY CAREY. LOOK AT HOW SOME OF THEM ARE UPSIDE DOWN AND POINTED TOWARD THE HARD, GRITTY SURFACE OF THE EARTH.
Of course, Blake and I simultaneously salivated at the sight of a metal contraption that could potentially send us spiraling to a grisly demise, after which I would hope our mangled, mashed, and possibly vivisected corpses would be studied laboriously and recreated for the next “Final Destination.”
No one was in line when we approached, but a trio of teenaged girls stood near by, ogling its height with craned necks. We assumed that the ramp they were standing near was the entrance, but it turned out to be the exit so we were sent away by the two greasy beer-bellied attendants. As we passed the girls on our way to the real entrance, one of them said, “Oops, we made them think this is the entrance by standing here,” and I called out, “I know! Now we look dumb!”
NO, WE LOOKED DUMB FOR WILLINGLY PUTTING OUR LIVES INTO THE FATE OF THIS FUCKING RIDE THAT THEY CALL THE SKYDIVER. First, the padded bar was slammed down onto legs and applied so much pressure that I went numb below the knees. It created a beautiful illusion of amputation, so much that I began complaining of phantom limb pain before the ride even started.
Did I mention we were the only ones riding it?
We hadn’t even made a full revolution before my body was wedged against the side of the cage, leaving a very fashionable waffle print against the side of my face, and I’m not sure but I think my bowels were capsizing. Our cage was spinning and revolving and flipping in so many different directions, and combined with revolutions of the actual wheel itself, I had no fucking idea what direction we were facing. Except when our cage was pointing straight down to the ground, giving us the delightful sensation of plummeting toward Hell.
I knew we were at the bottom when I would catch blurred glimpses of the neon green shirts of the attendants, so I would scream – NAY, bellow – “PLEASE LET US OFF THIS FUCKING RIDE. OMG FUCK YOU PLZ.” I began wondering if it would count if I quickly typed up a Living Will on my Blackberry. I think Blake was crying. Every time it would fling us upside down, my arms would shoot out to brace myself, even though the lap bar was ensuring that nary a penny could escape.
Just then, the spinning began to slow, gears cranked and ground, and eventually we slowed to a stop near the attendants. My hand flung to my heart and I started to thank them, but my words slurred AS THE RIDE EMBARKED ON A BRAND NEW CYCLE, BACKWARD.
My body gave up fighting and resumed its former position, smashed against the grated window of our torture cell. I began clenching, to prevent any accidental pants-poopage. “Please God, don’t let me poop my pants in front of Blake. He’ll tell all of MySpace” I prayed to the giant pink plastic heart pendant that became my makeshift Skydiver rosary. That’s what fifteen-year-olds do, you know. Send out bulletins, outing adults who poop their pants. That’s what’s I’d do too, if the opportunity ever presented itself.
The first round was obnoxious, but tolerable, like watching an anal fisting. You grimace, you laugh at the enlarged asshole, you cry a little. But then the Skydiver decided it had to go backward too, and that was about as unnecessary and gratuitous as the part where the girl shits on a glass table.
And that is how the Skydiver is quite like a Japanese porn.
Well, because I’ve clearly been fucked with the Downs dildo somewhere along the cobblestone road to the whorehouse, I rode it again this time. TWICE. IN A ROW. There’s no single riders, probably because without that extra slab of flesh in the cage with you, you’re more likely to oscillate the cage right off its hinges and soar into orbit. Or crash in a heap of mangled metal and annhilated anatomy.
The first time, I rode with Alisha. After ensuring our ovaries were sufficiently dessicated under the pressure of a large padded saftey bar, the real life before picture of a Proactive Ad slammed our cage shut and sent us off into oblivion where flashbacks of last year’s crucifixion inside a life-sized cheese grater came crashing back to me like a meteor into earth. There’s one point of this ride where it stops. Just fucking STOPS while you’re at its pinnacle, vignettes of Christmas past zooming by your eyes like a crudely drawn flip-book, and once you get around the dizzying sensation of being a trillion feet from cement you realize that you’re suspended in some sort of doggy-style position thanks to the padded bar that’s keeping your lower half melded into the seat, and then you can’t help but think that Elizabeth Bathory surely had something similar to this in her dungeon to give her prisoners a good, proper anal skewering.
And then you start thinking of horror porn and what? Doesn’t everyone think fondly of porn when they’re on the edge of the cliff, ready to plummet to death?
While it was an intense ride, it wasn’t as physically painful as I had remembered it to be last year, so I felt confident getting back on the saddle immediately with Corey. But this time, the ride operator smashed down the bar in such a way that it gripped a bunch of skin on my upper thigh and pinched it tight. I tried to scream at him to get it off me but I’m sure all he heard was “Hey waaaaaaiiiiiiii————-” as our cage whirred away from the station. And every revolution heard me shouting, “You fucccccccckkkkker!!!” and “PLEASE STOPPPPPPPP!” and “I’M PREGGGGGGGGGGnant!!!!!”
The physical pain of Round 2 was so overwhelming that I was unable to notice anything else going on. Bolts could have been popping out. A unicorn could have flown past and crop-dusted me with rainbow piss. All I knew was that the skin on my legs was accordianed underneath that FUCKING bar and my 6-foot-giant brother was slamming into my left side and I could have gone all Hellraiser and melted through the grated side of that cage and I’ll tell you what, that would have been a welcomed relief.
They need to renovate that bitchin’ ride, make it more comfortable. Maybe thrown in some purple velvet seat cushions and instead of that bar, they might want to dig up some mermaids to kneel on the floor and hold the riders’ legs with massaging hands. And I’m talking about the good kind of massaging hands.
I swear to god, for real this time, I’m done with that ride. But like any good abusive relationship, I’ll probably take it back next year, when it bats those beautiful blinking carnival lights at me.
Last year’s Lakemont Park account can be found here.
More photos here.