Sunday, May 1, 2011

Freudian roller coaster

Kings Island opened this past weekend, but you won't find me there - and I'm not quite sure why.

I haven't been to Kings Island as a paying guest in more than 20 years. And I know why I shy away from the place. I'm no fun there. I can't hack roller coasters with big drops - and Kings Island's got a bunch of em. Even a ride as relatively tame as The Racer makes something in my brain say NO.

And that's the part I can't really figure out. I like the idea of roller coasters, and the physics of how they work. I'm not afraid of heights. I can go up in a hot air balloon or an airplane without breaking a sweat. I'm not afraid of drops. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite rides, and that thing drops you several times on each trip.

It's not even roller coasters per se that bother me. I can ride the ones at the Disney parks. Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain are both loads of fun. Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and the Rock n' Roller Coasters at the Studios are a bit more intense, but I've been on both multiple times. I will never forget my debut whirl on the RNRC. I knew that the ride launched you from 0 to 60 at the very beginning, and I had planned to scream like the start of  the Beatles' "Revolution" to power me through it.

When I hit that first loop, however, all I could get out was "                  ." Not any kind of sound, just a stunned expression and a complete inability to vocalize, hence "                  ."

When it comes to roller coasters with big drops, though, it's a completely different story. When those g-forces on the big drops hit my stomach, my stomach always responds, "I would rather be anywhere in the world but here."

No, to find out why I can't take roller coasters, I think we have to resort to that old standby, childhood trauma.

The first big roller coaster I ever rode was an old wooden number called The Screechin' Eagle" at Americana Amusement Park AKA LeSourdsville Lake in Monroe, not far from where I work.

As you can see,  this roller coaster is not particularly tall. However, it has been particularly famous among coaster enthusiasts for its "air time"  - that moment when your butt lifts off the seat as you crest over the hill. Thing was, at the Screechin' Eagle it's not just your butt that lifts off the seat. It's the entire front half of your body. And when you're only 7 or 8 years old, and you're constantly afraid you're going to go flying OUT of the ride, well --- that tends to stay with you. So from that day on, roller coaster with big drops = last will and testament.

And I, being of sound mind and body, do not want to die, and don't want to be reminded that I feel like I'm going to die. So you could put Amy Adams in a bikini at the end of the ride, and that wouldn't sway me.

That said, she's welcome to try.


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