In some ways, I think my siblings’ love of torturing me was ingrained in their DNA through dear old Dad.
My dad is a real ham (more on that in a future post), but he could also be a real jerk. Thanks to him, “amusement” parks have a different meaning to me. There’s no amusement. It’s sheer terror in my eyes. And it began.
The Month and Year: June 1986
The Location: Del Mar Fair (San Diego, CA)
I was 7 years old. My dad, sister, and her friend headed over to the Del Mar Fair. It was my first time at this annual, 2-week event. I was pretty excited — mostly to sink my teeth into some cotton candy.
My sister and her friend went off on their separate way and my dad and I cruised the fairgrounds. We walked around for a bit. Then at some point, I spotted a rollercoaster. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Let’s go on that!” I exclaimed, pointing at the metal monstrosity.
My dad: No, you go ahead by yourself. I’ll be here, pointing down at the spot where he was standing, several feet away from the rollercoaster.
Not knowing any better or what impact this would have on me, I stood in line and eventually boarded the coaster. There I was, a 4-foot-something scared little kid, strapped into the back seat. I remember two older guys sitting in the front while I sat with an empty seat to my right.
I believe the ride lasted 10 years (maybe 1-2 minutes in “real” time), and the whole time I was screaming my head off. My schnazzy pink Sea World visor that I had gotten the year before flew off (luckily it landed on the empty seat next to me). With terror in my eyes, I looked down, and what did I see?
That man. Standing in that spot. My dad had the biggest smile I could ever remember from my then 7 years on this Earth.
When the horror show was over, I grabbed my visor, hopped off the ride and ran over to my dad. He was still smiling AND laughing. But I couldn’t hear it. The pounding of my poor little heart drowned out any sound.
To soften the blow, my dad did buy me some cotton candy. But the damage was done.
And from that day forward, I didn’t get on another rollercoaster for about another 6 years — ’til the day my sister forced me to get on a ride.
Lesson learned: Be armed with handcuffs so you can take Dad with you!