My oldest two never managed to get me onto the Gravitron or the Zipper or any of those horrid show rides. Not in twenty-one years. My youngest son has managed to pull it off in just eight years.
“We want to go on this,” said Master8 and Miss9 in unison.
I turned around expecting a jumping castle or another car ride. We’d just spent a small fortune helping the dodgem guys pay off their overdraft.
“Are you sure?” I said, the slightest hint of a waiver in my voice.
Before us stood the biggest Tea Cup like ride I’d ever seen – the Flashdance. Wait a minute. Flashdance? Didn’t that come out in the early eighties? Just how the hell old was this ride?
“Yeah!” said Master8, breaking into my reverie.
“I love it!” said Miss9.
“Really?’ I said. “Cause if I buy the tickets you have to go on it.”
“Yeah! Awesome!” they squealed.
Tracey looked as doubtful as I felt but on the bright side the tickets were $8 each or two for $15. I stood to save $1. Next to the price sign was a cheap ‘No Refunds’ one which seemed to be blinking at me in neon. “Okay then. But if you pull out of this you miss out on other rides, because this costs money.”
“We won’t,” said Miss9.
“I can’t wait!” chimed in Master8.
So I paid the money and handed them their tickets.
Miss9 raced up the ramp to wait in line, but the ticket in Master8’s hand seemed to know the combination to his fear locker. “I’m scared,” he said, all bluster and cheer gone.
“What do you mean?” I said. But I knew the look. I’d seen it on Miss3’s face down at the Tea Cups last night.
“I don’t want to do it,” he said, giving me the ticket back.
I waived the ticket in what I hoped was a playful, encouraging way. “But I just bought the ticket. You said you wanted to. Awesome, remember.”
Suddenly he turned into a teenager. “You can’t make me!”
I was pretty sure I could, but family services might not approve of my methods.”You have to,” I tried.
“No,” he cried.
“You’ll have no other rides.”
I looked at Tracey. “I’ll do it,” I said, my shoulders slumped in defeat. “Unless there’s even the vaguest chance you’re interested?”
She wasn’t. She implied this by indicating she had the pram so, sadly, it just wasn’t possible. Damn. I was just about to offer to push the pram too.
So that’s how I came to go on one of those big, scary, came-in-on-the-back-of-a-truck-and-put-together-by-dropouts show rides (I can’t back that up, just going with how it appears from the outside looking in) which I’d sworn off twenty years ago. Thank you, Master8.
And how did it go?
Fine. I did great. The ride was coming to a halt and I was pretty chuffed at how well I’d kept it together in front of my daughter. No tears, no crying, no soiling of pants. A good ride.
But the ride wasn’t finished, was it.
Just as I was expecting the nice young engineer to set us free it started going backwards and I’m pretty sure I increased the size of my hernia threefold trying to hold myself in and simultaneously not hurl up my dagwood dog. As I might have screamed all this on my way round, Miss9 has had all sorts of fun bringing the details of my pathetic ride up tonight in conversations.
So she was recommending the Flashdance to all her little friends as we continued around the showground.
“Dad thought he was going to throw up on me!” she’d say with a grin and an eye roll in my direction.
Yep, that Flashdance: since the eighties it’s the ride that just keeps on giving long after you slink away from it.
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’raising a family on little more than laughs’
When we were younger and mum and dad would take us the the Brisbane EKKA we would park the car down in the park beside the hospital and then walk in through side show ally. Mum and Dad had always told us that the rides where there for the hospital kids and there families. Sad part was that we all beleived them until our late teens when we wear earning our own money to be able to pay for the rides ourselves.