There’s nothing more fun than that age old ritual of organized bonding with a new potential family member. Way back when Milk and The Engineer were planning to wed, the two of them flew down to Southern California for a cousin’s wedding. While they were in town, it was decided that The Engineer and I should have some guy time to bond.
I remembered Milk saying something about The Engineer wanting to design roller coasters for a living. This gave me an idea. I called Milk up.
“Hey Milk, I got tickets for us to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain! It’s the one they used for Wally World in the National Lampoon’s Vacation movie! Isn’t that rad?”
“Um yeah, that will be fun for you guys.” She sounded jealous.
“Great, tell him to pick me up tomorrow, I bought the tickets so he’s driving.” I hung up.
The next day The Engineer picked me up in a rental car and we drove off to theme park heaven. If your idea of heaven includes a lot of people with neck tattoos. I guess they’re there so you can remember your area code? But then if you don’t have any friends around to read the back of your neck, what do you do, find a mirror? I’m just saying there might be more efficient places for area code storage. And what if you move?
We pull into the parking lot and The Engineer pulls out a bottle of pills, I give him a look. “Rollercoasters give me a headache,” he said. “No Advil in the hotel, so your sister gave me these. You want one?” He offered.
“Sure, but just one, those things make me nauseous sometimes,” I said.
Properly medicated we wandered off into the park. Now if you haven’t been to Six Flags Magic Mountain, let’s just say it ain’t Disneyland. Besides the old classic coasters, everything else there is designed so that no sane person should want to ride it. Disney offers squeaky clean family fun and rides just about everyone can enjoy. Magic Mountain offers utter terror and the potential for a gang fight.
The Engineer and I engaged in the time honored tradition of goading each other onto ever more terrifying thrill machines so as not to look like a pussy in front of a future brother-in-law. After a few, he started griping about his head or his back hurting or something. I shrugged, “that’s what the meds are for, dude.” He took another one.
This was back when we didn’t know that big pharma was turning everyone into heroine addicts. You’d tell someone you were going on a plane and they would raid the medicine cabinet for you. “Here I got a ton of Percocet and Xanax laying around from when Great Aunt Cheryl was dying of cancer. Can you believe the hospice lady was going to throw these out?” They’d hold out a candy dish.
Anyway, after a few hours of standing in line and like ten minutes of abject fear and adrenaline we rounded a corner in the park and there she was. The Whipper Snapper from Vacation. I won’t lie, I squealed and clapped. I looked at The Engineer he was a little green around the gills.
“You Ok man?” I asked “I thought you loved roller coasters?”
“I’m not feeling so good, what do you say we call it and go home?” He offered.
“Screw that noise, I’ve been waiting my whole life to go on this, and we still haven’t done Collossus!” I was a little insensitive in retrospect.
We stood in line for 45 minutes, got on the ride and away we went. The Whipper Snapper is a ride where you sit two across, held in by a shoulder harness, as you careen around fast, jerking corners every two seconds. To call this ride jarring would be a gross understatement; the name fits it to a tee. As the ride is coming to an end I give The Engineer a grinning thumbs and he looks back at me like a miserable chipmunk, his cheeks straining to hold back half-digested funnel cake and soda.
“Don’t do it man, don’t puke on me please… swallow that for God’s sake!” I pleaded as I struggled to get away from him but the harness held me fast. I was a condemned man lunging against my restraints.
He looked at me, eyes watering and all buggy like a frightened horse.
“Look away!” I yelled, “Don’t look at me, what the hell?”
“Hey he’s not going to puke is he?” A kids voice from behind us asked.
We were stuck waiting for the coaster in front of us to unload it felt like an eternity until we slowly rolled into the boarding area.
Somehow, through herculean effort he managed to not barf, but he was a little shaky getting out of the ride. We walked towards the exit in relative silence.
“I actually feel a little better,” he said, “You could go on another ride if you want.”
“Let’s just get some churros and go,” I replied.
We got back to the car. “Want me to drive?” I offered
“Yes. Please.” He said.
We made it three miles until he threw up churro Pepsi and Vicodin out the window at 70 mph, it was spectacular and a couple cars swerved. He slumped back into the car seat looking miserable. As we pulled into proper LA gridlock, he hung his head out and puked again. We moved at a typical snail’s pace through traffic, him leaning out the window trying to find some fresh air in all the exhaust. I will say that, despite the bumper to bumper traffic, there wasn’t a car near us on any side.
I talked to Milk later that night while the Engineer held vigil in the bathroom. “Sorry I tried to kill your fiancee, I thought he loved roller coasters?”
She laughed and shrugged. “He does. He doesn’t love Vicodin, though. Apparently. That was totally my bad.”
“He was pretty much puking the whole drive home.”
“No headache though, amirite? Hey, you wanna grab some sushi?”
We left him with a cat for sympathy and went out to sushi. We are not a sensitive people.