Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Life of Amusement, Part 1: Childish Things

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“A nerd is a person who uses the telephone to talk to other people about telephones.” -Douglas Adams

The other day, someone asked me how I first became interested in roller coasters.

I grew up close enough to Disneyland to see the nightly fireworks from my house. I went as often as I could. Which is to say, as often as I could talk my family into taking me. Knott’s Berry Farm wasn’t too much farther away. It was different, but I liked it, too.

Visiting some relatives in Minnesota one summer, I got the opportunity to visit their local amusement park, ValleyFair! (It’s not that great. The exclamation point is part of the name.) I didn’t ride the coasters, though. They scared me. So did the ones a Knott’s. I loved the parks, but only Disneyland’s roller coasters were tame enough for me to try.

There was another park two hours north of where we lived: Six Flags Magic Mountain. I wanted to go. But there was a problem: No one wanted to take wussy Erik to a coaster park.

A deal was struck. They would take me to Magic Mountain, but only if I agreed to ride all the coasters.

I loved it. I rode all the ones at Knott’s and I loved them, too. I sought out all the information on roller coasters that I could find. But there wasn’t much, this being before the advent of the internet.

Still, I found a few mentions here and there. My greatest coaster treasure became a People magazine from 1984, with an article that purported to name the country’s 10 best roller coasters. One I’d ridden. Two more, I’d heard of. The rest were all alien to me. The Beast, Mind Bender, Thunderbolt.

I’ve been on all of those, now. And I just found a link to that article on People’s website: Hold on Tight

I no longer have to walk 10 miles through the snow, uphill both ways, to get to school. And milk no longer costs a nickel. But I still love roller coasters. It’s more about the total amusement park experience for me now, though.

Maybe it always was.

[-carrier lost-]


  1. If I would have only known what talking you into riding that first roller coaster would turn into, would I still do it? You bet! Roller coasters are the best thing ever.