Funny Stories about Amusement Park Rides: Boomerang
In my previous episode, Funny Stories about Amusement Park Ferris Wheels, I shared that I am height-impaired thanks to
several incidents that happened when I was a child which were then later reinforced
by another episode on the Ferris wheel in my teenage years.
I've also shamefully admitted that for all intents and purposes, when I was a child, I became a bully to my younger sister. The reasons were many I suppose but facts are facts. When it comes right down to it, although I ended up shooting myself in the foot several times while trying to trip her up and scare the living daylights out of her, most of the time I got away with it.
However, as the saying goes….payback’s a bitch – and don’t I know it!
Come with me on a trip down memory lane where we’ll see my little sister finally get her sweet revenge. Somehow the name of the amusement park ride, the Boomerang, just happens to fit the bill! For a boomerang thrown after all will always return to the thrower. Little did I plan on how that would feel.
I have to say I had it coming and I took it with dignity and decorum – you bet!
How I Ended up On The Boomerang
As my kids grew up, I actually had to put aside my fear of heights several times just because my husband was amusement park impaired. I’ve never been sure if it was an actual affliction or he just had sympathy pains for our visually impaired son who could only go on the ‘tame’ rides. Anything involving spinning, flipping around, swerving, etc. was a total nightmare for Patrick with his severe vision loss and usually, it ended up that Bob and Pat went on their set of rides together.
Things like the Tilt-A-Whirl or the Merry-Go-Round were their speed, while I was left to try and handle the more wicked rides such as roller coasters and the like with our oldest, Jonathan and our youngest, Katie. These 2 kids were always into the fastest, scariest rides available and though I did not go on ALL of them, I went on my fair share, cursing out loud many times, followed by an immediate verbal apology to everyone on the ride, and screaming like a banshee. Alas there was no way out of it for me.
Roller coasters did not impress me much since I didn’t like the height factor first off. Secondly, having ridden on an old wooden roller coaster at the Seattle Space Needle amusement park one summer day, while scared witless by the height and speed factor alone, I had not bargained for one little additional bonus – the fact that one of my neck vertebra locked when we slammed down at the lowest point on the track. I could literally not turn my head for 3 days!
All this said, I was not a huge fan of roller coasters the older my kids got - or anything that flew around and most especially things that had height involved or hung upside down. So how did I end up on the Boomerang roller coaster and unsuspectingly at that? Because I'm as naive as the day is long (or is that dumb?). I trust people and I especially love and trust my family. I would do just about anything for any of them and if they're involved, I tend to have blinders on. So here’s how it happened…..
We went to southern California on a rare vacation to my old stomping grounds. Our oldest, Jonathan was in junior high and I don’t have to say much along the lines of what it’s like to have a young teen in the house. He was too cool for words and was very much into how things appeared to the world around him – more specifically how they affected HIM and only him. He had to be total Mr. Cool at all times.
Patrick was his usual Patrick self. At 2-1/2 years younger than Jon, he was just entering that delicate balance of leaving childhood and growing into a teen. He of course had his visual impairment, so there was no way in bloody heck he was worried about going on scary rides, how he looked on said rides, etc. All he cared about was getting from here to there without running into things, falling down and embarrassing himself (further).
Our daughter Katie was 17 months younger than Pat and thought that the sun and moon set on her older brother. She wanted only to be with him and go everywhere that he was going.
As for Bob, he was just part of the parent squad. He did whatever was necessary within limits that only he could define, and that was how we entered the amusement park that day known as Knott's Berry Farm – as the Kirchner family whacko unit.
I was jazzed because my sister lives in San Diego. I was ecstatic since she had made arrangements to come with us to several places like Sea World, Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm. We had a great time that vacation and it was so neat to be able to spend time with her. My kids absolutely adore her and that made it even more fun.
We were cruising around the amusement park deciding what rides to go on. By this time in my life, I was going for ‘tame’. I actually had gone on a couple of rides or roller coasters that hung down from tracks, went fast or were on tracks above ground - but no rides that flipped around or went upside down. The kids had talked me into going on a couple of these and my sister seemed to like them. However, I knew my limits.
As it turns out, my sister has no fear whatsoever of rides that drop precipitously from the level of a 10-story building. (You will note even after all that bullying, she was braver than me by a long shot – maybe because of it). In my mind, you’d have to scrape me off the bottom of the crate by the time I did the drop-10-stories ride - or call an ambulance – or both.
I really hadn’t thought that much about the significant fact that she was unafraid of heights and wild rides - even when she innocently walked up to me with Katie and Jon and said very sweetly ‘"Hey, how about you get in line with me for the Boomerang with these two whimps and we give it a whirl?"
Having never heard of the Boomerang before and not having seen it yet, I asked with a little bit of trepidation the question I'd asked all day....."What kind of ride is it? Does it go fast? Is it one of those spin-around things that make you barf or much more importantly, is it really high?"
She laughed easily so why would I think she was putting me on? She said with all the ease of a new car salesman "Of course there’s not that much height involved! I know all about your little problem with heights. And it doesn’t spin around much at all. It’s just a tame and lame roller coaster ride! It’s a kind of a hanging roller coaster, that’s all and I know you can go on those because we already did the other ones."
And then the kicker…."Are you afraid or something?"
Okay, that snapped my garter big time! No one questions my ability to be scared. I’ve been scared of more things in my lifetime than Carter has pills. It didn’t help that Katie was busily tugging at my hand and begging. "Mom, please - you just HAVE to go – WE’RE going!!!"
Jon is looking slightly bored about this time, as if we're killing off his girl-watching time standing here talking about something as lame as a roller coaster and whether to go on it or not.
So of course I gave in. I had to give in! I did it for my kids! Yeah right – what total crap! I did it because my sister called me out and I wasn’t going to back down no matter what the ride was like.
Really though in my defense, I never saw the ride. Somehow she maneuvered me under the awning so
I never actually SAW the blasted ride until it was far too late. Why? Because I trusted her!
I went on her word that it was ‘not that bad’ and that it was a ‘tame and lame roller coaster ride’. Indeed!
Life on the Boomerang
She kept me talking and chatting about this and that and the kids kept me busy the rest of the time with what would we go on next, what about this, what about that, until I had zigzagged back and forth in line so many times I forgot what I was in line to do!
When I stepped out onto the platform to board the beast, I almost had a heart attack. I panicked and quickly stepped back towards the holding area.
"There is NO way I’m going on this ride” I heard myself say (and I’ll add here very loudly). “You didn’t tell me it was this kind of roller coaster and there is NO WAY – did I mention that – NO WAY I’m going on this thing”.
Works like a charm....My sister pipes up “So let me get this straight then – you’re chicken?”
Holy crap, Batman! “Of course I’m not chicken – I have a bad neck! Remember that whole locked facet thing? I can’t go swirling around on this thing! What if I turn into a paraplegic when it’s over?” (This did not sound rational even to MY ears)
Jon and Katie are both looking at me with the implied message “COME ON”. They had better things to do than stand there waiting for their old mom to have a heart attack worrying about a stupid ride. Not to mention Jonathan was becoming embarrassed (again).
Reluctantly, the challenge ringing in my ears, I crept closer to the monstrosity called the Boomerang. I grudgingly got into the blasted car next to my vengeful sister where we were seated behind my son and my daughter. I heard the motor whir and a metal bar clamp down as if it was a bank vault slamming shut. As it turns out, that may have been the best part of this trip!
While I was mentally preparing myself for shooting forward and going through the now VERY VISIBLE loop-d-loops in front of me (there were 3 I might add), I was totally unprepared for what happened. The engines started up and before I could say ‘holy crap’ I was being sucked BACKWARDS. Not forward as I had anticipated but backwards.
Okay – seriously? It's not a straight shot either. We are being sucked backwards and upwards to the ‘starting line’ of the ride, which it just so happens is in the crux of a million mile in the air curve. This happened in roughly 5 seconds I imagine. It felt like 2 years!
But as we had started to pull away from level ground, I suddenly became very acutely aware of my chest. Not only was I having a bloody heart attack on an amusement park freaking roller coaster ride, but my chest was being slammed into some brackets I hadn’t even realized were there. On second thought, after what I could see and feel, I was sure glad they were there.
So within roughly 5 seconds, my life has gone from perfectly tame to insane. I am hanging from a roller coaster ride god knows how many feet in the air, and I cannot see the rest of the car. We are just HANGING there – out over the tracks - pressed in the roller coaster to the curve of the blasted tracks.
To say I started to scream would be putting it mildly. I let out with a scream that surprised even my ears. Then we took off. We shot out of that curl like a meteorite on its way to planet earth and I vaguely remember thinking "Oh thank God I didn’t fall out of the blasted car and smash myself on the tracks….ooops – There goes the landing platform’– oh – Look at that blur of people…..oh holy crap again! Oh holy mother of all that's insane...what have I DONE????"
We shot past the people on the platform – no doubt laughing their butts off at the screaming going on and then shot forward at the speed of light only to hit the 3 loop-d-loops. And there we went, spinning upside down, zigging and zagging, held in only by a bar over our lap and a harness and brackets! I ask you - could this REALLY be a good idea?
I remember opening my eyes because I wanted to see where I was going to land and die. I saw palm trees upside down and right side up. I think I saw heaven once or twice, and maybe Bob and Pat sitting on a bench though they looked too small to really see and were they LAUGHING?
No time for thinking about that because we
shot up the next part of the roller coaster track (again my luck – way up high)
and this time we’re going forward. At least
that was tolerable so I thought maybe that was it….except that we’re stopping and we’re backwards on the track so this can’t be a good thing that's going to be happening. They can't let us out here!!
Sure enough - much to my delight, we whipped back down the track backwards now at the speed of that same meteorite and went BACKWARDS through the loops. Oh mother of all that is holy, what did I ever do to deserve this?
By now, by the way, I’ve screamed since the initial scream started so I figure I screamed for at least 5 minutes solid. We’re not talking little croaking polite screams either. We are talking all out, mouth wide open, blood curdling screams.
I could feel my eyes bugging out of my head, capillaries breaking in my face! I never screamed that loud in my LIFE. And you know what I heard all the while I was screaming? One could never imagine such cruelty! I heard LAUGHTER.
My wonderfully kind sister sat beside me laughing her head off (and other body parts) the ENTIRE time. Not just little guffaws either - we are talking belly laughs that went on as long as my screaming did! Knowing that I was terrified somehow made this trip all the better!!
I’m not sure how I ever survived the ride. I swear my head exploded at least once, partially from the fear but partially from the screaming. I couldn’t breathe! At least I couldn’t barf either because I was so terrified.
When the ride finally cruised to a stop on the platform and the people started to come towards us for the next ride from hell, I couldn’t even get out of the car. I just sat there trembling. One of the attendants came forward to ask if I was going to scream anymore? I should have just for the heck of it but I didn’t! I couldn’t actually!
What I did see, however, was my sister, still enjoying herself immensely, now trying to mask her laughter with pretend concern, leaning over the seat asking if I was okay, followed by asking me if I wanted to go around again? If I didn’t, she informed me I needed to get off the roller coaster! That worked.
When I finally found my legs and was able to pull myself out of the death grip I had on the bar, I started to disembark for places less frightening. I joined Jon and Katie and was whispering as best I could "Do you want to go on any more rides?" when my son turned on me like the traitor only a teenager can be. He glares at me and then lashes out with "Get away from me! I never want to see you again. You are the MOST EMBARRASSING person I’ve ever met! Do you know how many people were looking at you and laughing, mom? Just stay away from me!"
And just like that, all indignity, he stomps off in the direction of my husband…..who happens to be lying down on the bench laughing so hard he’s crying. I absolutely get NO respect.
About 30 minutes later, after I waited for everyone to get done with their laughing jag, we set off though we set off our separate ways. I was having no more of ‘gotcha’ from my sister so sent her to happily ride all the frightening rides with Jon and Katie while I decided life on the slow side couldn’t be all that bad.
Of course, an hour or so later, Bob
and Pat proudly presented me with a coffee mug that said “I survived the
Boomerang". I thought about smashing it right there and then but decided it was my trophy and I
should keep it for all eternity. I had after all earned it!
Did I Mention Yahoo?
Just before we were to meet up with my sister and our two other kids to go grab something to eat and head back home, Pat wanted to go on one more ride. Bob asked if I’d go on the last ride of the day with him and Pat.
After the Boomerang ordeal, I hadn’t really gotten my voice back fully yet and I was still pretty shaky about going on rides. But I couldn’t say no to Pat (or Bob for that matter), so relieved it was the last ride of the day, I said okay and they ran to get in line. I really hadn't checked out this ride either because I just wasn’t paying attention (again) and I really hadn’t anticipated going on another ride - in fact probably for the rest of my life!
We quickly got on (which should really have been a clue but no) and we boarded a platform that looked like a floating houseboat with seats. I happened to notice that there was a nice Asian man sitting next to me and he smiled at me. I smiled back. Then the ride started.
We were going around in a circle and that was okay – at first. Suddenly though, the speed picked up and we were going higher. For some reason only known to yours truly, I had visions of us turning upside down or at the very least sideways….and you guessed it! I let out a scream that almost caused the poor Asian man to jump off the blasted ride. He leaped about 5 feet off the seat at the first scream and then when I kept it up, he plastered himself as far away from me as he could get, again endangering himself and probably could have ended up causing him to be caught in the ride's mechanism.
All I can say is that I panicked. It somehow did not register that we had no harnesses on. It also did not register that there was no lap bar. It also didn’t seem to have crossed my mind that my husband and my ride-impaired son were on this ride and they certainly would have checked it out.
All I can say in my defense is that I had PTRS - posttraumatic ride syndrome.
I lost what was left of my voice but unfortunately just before the ride ended. Bob was laughing so hard again that he was crying. Pat was looking at me like I was insane (it wasn’t the first time and it certainly wasn’t the last) – and the poor Asian fellow? He pretty much waited for the ride to stop and bolted off the ride. He ran out into the crowd babbling to himself. Probably couldn’t wait to go tell his family or friends about the lunatic he rode with on the ‘tame’ ride that got freaked out. ‘She must be on day pass from mental institution – out with husband and son’.
I don’t have to tell you that I got some pretty weird looks as I exited THAT particular ride. Everyone was looking at me like I was definitely mentally deficient. I would have told them all about why it happened but unfortunately by now, I was so hoarse that I had NO voice. As an epilogue to that, Bob said it was the best 3 days he ever had since we’ve been married!
Epilogue to My Boomerang Story
So the moral of the story here? When you least expect it – no you’re not on candid camera. Life will come around and kick your butt! Some call it karma, some call it payback – I call it Boomerang. For actually what is a boomerang? When you throw it, it comes back to you.
I threw the scare card – that was my boomerang. And my sister got me back in spades. I always say I think the slate has been wiped clean.
This episode plus a few of the self-sabotaging episodes I brought on myself in my efforts to scare her – we’re even, pal.
This story is also one of the main reasons that my friends and family ask me to fly with them. It only made my fear of flying more acute and I managed to take those fears on airplanes with me as well. I don’t think there are enough classes I could possibly take to cure these height, fright and flight phobias but I’m working on them but not on a Ferris wheel and not on a roller coaster!
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This Almost Makes Me Scream Watching It
Singing La-La-La My Butt!
Seriously - Let Me OFF - Oh Yeah, It's a Video
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 24, 2010:
Well, cycloptak - thanks so much for stopping by! You'd have to know my old Pat and Bob to get the full impact of the study but you sound very wise in your summation of the situation....they were always the ones who made the best choices I think!
cycloptak on October 24, 2010:
It seems that tame old Pat and Bob made the wise choice.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 21, 2010:
Thanks 2 Patricias for the funny story/anecdote. It is amazing what happens and then we 'block it'. I wish I kinda sorta could block my experience out! Thanks too for the read.
2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on October 21, 2010:
Your writing is simply brilliant! (Pat says) when I was a kid my mom took us on a very small ferris wheel as the county fair. She screamed so much that the attendant stopped the wheel so that we could get off. As you can imagine, I was embarassed beyond all adjectives. The funny thing is, that I don't remember any other trips to the fair - and I sure I went every year.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 19, 2010:
Katie - I think the operative word there is daughter and young! Man - I don't plan on EVER doing that again as long as I live. My poor son was absolutely humiliated beyond belief but of course now he laughs about it and makes fun of me! Ah well - the story of my life. Thanks for the read and I know there was some fun in there SOMEWHERE!
Katie McMurray from Ohio on October 19, 2010:
My daughter just went to Cedar Point this past weekend and loves roller coasters. The Boomerang sounds right up her alley. Great and funny yet informative story about amusement park rides, I have a few myself I could tell. LOL lol ha ha ha :)
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 17, 2010:
Thanks, Prasetio for the sweet comment! Appreciate the read....and thanks for taking the Boomerang experience with me!
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on October 17, 2010:
Thanks,Audrey for share your story. I love the boomerang story. I have to visit this hub again to finish my reading. Good work, my friend. You always my favorite. Vote Up...
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 16, 2010:
Thanks, Dim - but what would the fun be in THAT? Then I would have no stories to tell!
De Greek from UK on October 16, 2010:
Insane Person, your husband should have you certified and stamped on the forehead, so that people in charge of the machinery will not allow you to do these things, despite yourself :-)))
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 16, 2010:
Oh but Pamela, I am SO amusing to fly with! That will have to be another hub I imagine. I seriously need someone to shoot me with a tranquilizing gun - probably this could be true of many other things I do in life. I am a 'unique' person I guess for lack of a better word but thankfully most people laugh rather than run away from me! And yes - I'm so done with the rides - no more fright episodes for this old lady!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 16, 2010:
Audry, I imagine you have given up going to amusement parks after that episode. I use to love them but never the real twisted high scary ones.
I'm not afraid to fly at all, but I don't think I would sit next to you. Haha Great story.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 16, 2010:
Thanks, Dallas for the read! I had great fun re-living it - or at least parts of it! Yikes!!
Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on October 16, 2010:
Head on hills and you pay them..! Great fun!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 16, 2010:
Great ditty as always, BJ - and thanks for the chuckle along with me. Yep - I say the slate's been wiped on this one!! You will NEVER catch me on another ride like that in my lifetime so no fingerprints!
drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 16, 2010:
Entertain me, you did, ak, with this funny but smashing (literally) hub. That Boomerang ride was payback of the nth degree. Your little sister may have finally evened the score.