Jimmy Tomlin: Coasterphobia

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 01:00 AM

I’ve never been a big fan of roller coasters.
Call me crazy, but there’s something about being strapped into an open-air vehicle the size of a coffee table, then being hurtled along a thin, metal track at breakneck speeds close to 100 mph, occasionally being catapulted hundreds of feet off the ground, all the while being twirled, twisted, spiraled and looped like a Hot Wheels car.
There’s just something about that whole experience that doesn’t sit well with me.
Usually, it’s my lunch. When I ride roller coasters, my lunch does not sit well with me.
Which always makes it interesting when we take our children to Carowinds, as we did two weeks ago for Father’s Day.
That’s right, Father’s Day. On a 90-degree summer day, I was given the privilege of standing in long lines, often behind teenage boys who smelled like last month’s tuna, waiting to climb aboard dangerous amusement rides designed to either kill me or, at the very least, cause me to throw up my overpriced lunch.
Yep, Happy Father’s Day to me. Next year, feel free to get me a necktie.
So anyway, because I can get sick merely LOOKING at a roller coaster, I didn’t ride any of the so-called thrill rides that are tall and loopy and turn you upside-down and spin you around like a rotisserie and have names like The Vortex and The Intimidator and The Hyperventilator and The Flaming Jaguar and The Devil’s Esophagus and The Exterminator.
OK, I made some of those up.
But there really is a roller coaster at Carowinds called The Hurler. You think I’m getting on a roller coaster that promotes vomit? Um, no thanks, I’ll sit over here in the shade with my $8 lemondade.
But my girls rode The Hurler, of course. Four times. With their hands in the air every time. Clearly, they’re much braver than I am.
Or stupider.
Wait, did I actually type that out loud?
There’s another coaster there called The Intimidator, which is exactly what it sounds like — intimidating. It’s very tall and very fast and has highly exaggerated loops in it, and you can’t ride it unless you wear a crash helmet and shoulder pads and a jockstrap.
OK, now I’m just being ridiculous. Women don’t have to wear a jockstrap.
And I’m sorry, but every time I look at The Intimidator, my mind flashes back to when I was a boy playing with my Hot Wheels set. Remember how you could build a track and let your car go flying down a real steep incline, and then it would go through a loop, and it was so cool? Except sometimes the car would go so fast that it would get halfway through the loop and come off the track and just go flying through the air. Well, I didn’t want to become one of The Flying Wallendas, so I didn’t ride The Intimidator, either.
I did, however, let my 15-year-old daughter ride it. By herself. I’m surprised no one called Social Services on me.
The only roller coaster I actually rode was one called The Carolina Goldrusher, which was the park’s first roller coaster. I believe it’s been there since Roosevelt was in office.
Anyway, The Goldrusher doesn’t go very high and doesn’t have any loops, which is why I’m able to ride it. It’s just fast and very bumpy — you know, kinda like I-40 through Winston-Salem, only not as scary.
Maybe I’ll work up the nerve to ride a bigger coaster next year.
Or, if the amusement park gods are smiling on me, maybe I’ll get a necktie.
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579