The boat ride from Detoit to Windsor took for.ev.errrrrr. All we wanted to do was get THHHHHERE.
Boblo Island was an exotic destination for me when I was eight. The five or six other girls were just as excited.
“Do you think we can go on the big roller coaster?”
“I dunno. How big is it?”
“Seven hundred feet.”
“It’s not seven hundred feet!”
“Yeah. It is”
“No. It’s not.”
When you’re eight, a seven hundred foot roller coaster doesn’t seem that dramatic. Oh no. It’s a goal.
I went to Boblo Island when I was eight. The last summer the park was open. And there, on the crappiest roller coaster known to man, I almost died.
My Girl Scout troop went as a reward. I’m fairly sure that my near death experience in Canada was a reward for selling over our quota for cookies.
We arrived after the thirty hour boat ride. After all, we were right. Any amount of time greater than three minutes, was a day.
“I want to do the spiny rides!” I proclaimed. My friend Mel agreed and with our chaperone, we set out to spin and spin. Worried about puking? Not us!
We spun for what felt like hours. And then, we saw it. The seven hundred foot roller coaster.
“Let’s do it!” We shouted. Racing up to the line.
The attendant was a teenage boy. Tall with strawberry blonde hair and very typical teen acne.
“Ohmygosh!!! Ohmygosh!!! Ohmygosh!!!”
My friend Mel and I were freaking out as only eight year olds can. Bouncing in our seats and giggling. Holding hands and shrieking.
We jolted forward.
We chugged up, up, up. Then, we paused.
At the top of a hill.
It was then I developed a fear of heights.
I peered to my right and saw Lake Ontario. I’ve loved water my whole life and often feel most calm on the water’s edge.
I saw what I have always thought was a 55 gallon drum. And sludge bubbles out of it. Polluting my precious lake.
“Mel! What is THAT?!” I pointed abd shook Mel.
“I dunno.” And she probably didn’t care.
I did. I stared and watched the oozing persist.
Then we chugged forward. And it happened.
Our lap bar disconnected.
Mel looked at me and I looked at her. Our eyes as big as the Tootsie Pop owl’s.
We were no longer secured into our seats. And the rollercoaster has started speeding up. Our teenage attendant was too far behind us.
And we lurched forward.
Then we were off.
I grabbed Mel’s hand and we clung to each other. Up and over the first hill. We didn’t die.
For three hills.
And then the final loop. I could not hang onto Mel. She slipped out of my grasp.
“HANG ON!” I screamed.
She grabbed the side of our seat and I mirrored her actions.
We railed around the curve and I felt my small body lift off of the seat. Again! This happened with each hill, but this was worse! The car righted itself and the straightaway was in sight.
The ride was over.
I was in tears. My tiny frame shaking. Mel couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. She peeled me off the seat.
“You girls should have waited for me.” Our attendant said.
“They were never strapped in!” The woman behind us chimed.
I had no idea anyone noticed.
“They weren’t in the WHOLE TIME!”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but I checked. Yes they were.”
“NO we weren’t.” Mel screamed.
“It came undone!” I cried.
The attendant gave us a short lecture about following directions. I should have had enough foresight to kick him in the shin. Not that I would have. I was too scared to move.
We broke down. Both of us were in tears. Scared beyond death.
Mel and I found our chaperone. We didn’t ride another ride all day.
I didn’t tell our chaperone. I don’t know if Mel did. I just pleaded to go home. We did. Hours later.
I didn’t die in Canada that day. But I wouldn’t get on a rollercoaster again until 2004.
“I am not getting on that freakin’ death trap.” I proclaimed to my boyfriend at the time.
“Yes you are. You’ll love it.”
“I’ll hate it, and I am not above punching you. I will do it.”
“Come on, you haven’t been on a coaster in ten years!”
It was actually eleven, but who was counting?
“If I go on this, and hate it, like you know I will, we are leaving right after. RIGHT after. I want to watch the tide come in.” I said.
He agreed and away we went.
He knew the story from Boblo and didn’t believe me.
“No one almost dies in Canada.” He said thinking he was so smart.
Then I wasn’t eight. And I was secured in my seat. I screamed and I cried. Only I screamed “shit” the entire time. That was on the beach in Myrtle Beach.
I was right. I hated it. Every blasted second.
I left him standing in line to ride the death trap again. And I watched the tide come in. On my own. Just me and the moon, with the light of the pier behind me.
The pier closed the following summer.
Boblo Island’s amusement park closed the fall after my visit.
I am apparently hell on rollercoasters.
Which is fine. They’re not on my list of things I love and I haven’t been on one since.
Coincidentally, each place was near the water. I guess karma balances out love and hate for me.
When I see advertising for Cedar Point, I have a visceral reaction. I want to be sick. I have worked up to flying swings and “some” Ferris wheels, but I don’t think I will ever be a Top Thrill Dragster.
I can’t shake the pure terror of not being secured into my seat when I was eight. There is a big part of me that would rather drink water straight from Lake Ontario. The very water that I saw being actively polluted.
But all things considered, I think I will stay on the ground.