Carnie, Shut Up

On carnival rides, queasiness, and why large-breasted women deserve a better safety harness design.

Okay, so I hadn’t been to a carnival in at least 10 years. Probably longer. My mom hates any kind of rides, so she was never big on taking my siblings and me to carnivals when we were children. And my father hates for his kids to look messy. As there are endless possibilities to get messy at a carnival (cotton candy, caramel apples, manure, funnel cakes), he didn’t like taking us either.

So when my new, relatively young friends Travis, Caleb, and Aubrey decided they were going to the Cape Fear Fair and Expo, there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to ride some rides and scarf down some funnel cake. (Passing up funnel cake, by the way, is a cardinal sin in my book. If you are within 12 miles of a place that is selling funnel cakes and you do not purchase a funnel cake, there is no redemption for you.)

But let’s just say things didn’t go quite as well as I had imagined.

Mistake 1: Eating dinner before leaving for the carnival

Here was the logic on this one (you can tell I’m an amateur): Oh, I’ll have dinner before I go to the carnival. That way I don’t have to pay $12 for a corndog and $5 for a soda. I’m a GENIUS!

Mistake 2: Rice

So what did I decide to have for dinner? Some rice and veggies. What’s that you say, reader? Rice takes an exorbitant amount of time to digest? Oh really? Hmm. Guess I should have thought about that, huh?

Mistake 3: Not knowing when to say “when”

The fourth or fifth ride we got on was called “The Claw”. (Seriously, Google it. It’s out-of-control levels of awesomeittude.) The ride was insane amounts of fun. The harness, however, was not. See, let me teach you all a little physics lesson I like to call “Harness vs. Boobs.” Boys, try to keep up.

Now, a harness that comes down over your head, resting on your chest and keeping you safe and alive, probably seems like a great design to most of you. Unless you have tig ol’ bitty Double Dangs like yours truly. Then, instead of the harness pressing evenly on everything from shoulder to waist, it sits tightly on the two fun bags and leaves the rest of your front untouched.

Once the ride flips over so everyone’s parallel with the ground and upside down, imagine all of your body weight (and if you’re of Andy-size, that would mean 170 big ones) resting on just two points. On each boob, that’s 85 lbs. of pressure, at least. That’s like having two middle-school kids stand on your boobs at the same time. And that my friends, is no picnic.

I got off that ride and definitely was not feeling 100 percent. I would say I was down to about 70.

Mistake 4: The jail cell ride

I don’t know the real name for this ride — but we got in, and they locked us into this jail-cell-looking contraption, and at first I thought, Oh, this is nice. It’s like a Ferris wheel, but caged in.

Do not be deceived, friends. That isn’t the case. Nobody’s strapped in on this one. And it flips upside down. A lot. Violently. And repeatedly. And then it goes in reverse. And it flips upside down. Violently. And repeatedly.

I got off that ride and definitely was not feeling 100 percent. That ride took me from a still-fun 70 percent down to a 35 percent, instantly.

Mistake 5: Being an idiot

Okay, so this one is totally my fault. I should have told the kids I was going to sit out the next ride, even though it looked fairly tame. But I couldn’t.

See, I don’t like to be the baby. I’ll eat anything. I’ll take any dare. I’ll get on any ride. On those times when my family actually went to theme parks, my father used to help me stuff my tennis shoes with napkins so I could ride the rides when I was waaaay under the allowed height. I’ve bungee jumped. Sky diving is next. So it would have killed me to be sitting on the sidelines watching like a little cry-baby girl.

I gave myself a pep talk: Okay Andy, you can do this. It’ll be great. You’ll get on that ride, catch a nice breeze; you’ll be able to see the whole carnival from up there. You can do this

I am an idiot.

We tromped onto the ride, got harnessed in, and about five seconds into it I knew I wasn’t going to make it. Now, I’ve thrown up for a lot of reasons. But never, ever have I gotten sick off of carnival or theme park rides. Ever!

Until then.

I threw up. While I was still on the ride.

Luckily, I was still of sound enough mind to be able to hold everything in until the ride stopped. The only thing worse than vomit is projectile vomit. And the only thing worse than projectile vomit is projectile vomit at 50 feet in the air. And the only thing worse than projectile vomit at 50 feet in the air is knowing it is going to land on you, or someone else. And that isn’t fun for anyone.

Mistake 6: Location, location, location

The second I got off the ride, I unloaded my dinner. Right by the ride’s exit ramp. If I had thought about it, I would have at least mustered up enough strength to go behind the ride, out of public view. But I was out of it. So there I was — practically on all fours, barfing.

Before this episode, I had known Travis, Caleb, and Aubrey for probably three months. They rock. I love them enormously. But we were still kind of at that polite stage of friendship. We hadn’t seen each other do anything embarrassing. No gross-out stories had been told yet.

That night kicked them into a whooooole new level of friendship, a level which normally takes a year to reach in my book. They saw me at my worst, on all fours on a straw-covered carnival ground. Throwing up. And crying. (Um, yeah — I always cry when I vomit. Does that happen to anyone else, or am I just a freak?)

So, Travis, Caleb and Aub: We are now officially beyond the Polite Friends Stage. You are in the Inner Circle. I know, I know. We’re maybe moving a little fast. But don’t be afraid. The best is yet to come.

Anyway — as I was throwing up, I heard the sound of me throwing up, and it seemed much louder and more obnoxious than my normal vomiting. The sound of me throwing up was making me even sicker!

And then I stopped throwing up. But I kept hearing the sound of me being sick. Wait, I’m confused, I thought. I stopped throwing up. Why do I still hear myself vomiting?

Oh, yes — that’s right, friend. I hadn’t been hearing myself vomiting after all. I was hearing a carnie, over a loudspeaker, making fun of me vomiting.

Mistake 7: Overestimating carnies

The carnie from the ride next to us had seen me puking, and he had instantly grabbed his loudspeaker microphone and started making obnoxious retching noises over the speaker. I think I heard him say something like, “Ha ha, look at that girl puking over there! BLEEEEH! BLEEEEH! Ha ha, look at that girl!”

I hadn’t exactly expected any carnie to be sympathetic to my situation. I mean, let’s face it — it takes a certain kind of person to live his life out of a trailer, traveling around nasty fairgrounds, with no home to call his own, with no friends besides other carnies.

No, what I expected was apathy. I didn’t expect a carnie to hand me a napkin, or ask how I was doing. They probably see people puking so often that they’re numb to it. If anything, I would have thought a carnie would just ignore anyone being sick

Apparently I was wrong. Not only was this carnie not apathetic to puking people, he enjoys them. He like to make fun of them. Repeatedly. Over a loudspeaker.

That just isn’t cool in my book. I mean, I paid $13 dollars to ride your stupid rides. My vomit is paying your salary. And now you’re going to make fun of me? I don’t think so.

Good Decision 1: The Revenge Walk-Away

I regained composure, and Travis handed me a bottle of water to rinse up and whatnot. We started walking away — because (1) we wanted to get away from the vomit, and (2) Aub, who is probably all of 80 pounds soaking wet, had started yelling back at Mean Carnie and was attempting to scale the steel scaffolding of his tower. I was worried we might get kicked out by the managers, or that we’d be followed to our cars and beaten up.

So we walked away from the ride, and I decided to peace-out of that place. Yes, it meant passing up my funnel cake and any fun I might have had for the rest of the night. But I was not going to stick around and spend more money, giving Mean Carnie the satisfaction of getting a fat paycheck off my green.

I did the Revenge Walk-Away. Got in my car. Puked once more on the ride home. Got a ginger ale. And went to bed.

So, for those of you keeping score, that’s seven Mistakes, and one Good Decision.

On some days, that seems like the score for every story in my life. Welcome to my world. Everyone is welcome. Except carnies.

Article © 2008 by Andy Brame