by Chris Walter
I vaulted over a steaming heap of vomit and dodged an obese Shriner with a greasy red fez. The midway shrieked, rattled, and buzzed around me—a dizzying smorgasbord of screaming children, tiny doughnuts, and games of no chance at all. Obnoxious barkers and cheesy seventies music assaulted my ears as hysterical fools threw away extravagant amounts of cash trying to win furry roadrunners and ugly glass ashtrays. What mass hypnotist was at work here, what evil genius of flimflammery and deceit? The mind boggled.
After wasting ten minutes of our lives in a long lineup, a carnie took our tickets and ushered us onto a black steel beast known as the “Zipper.” We lowered the protective bar onto our laps and waited. With a sudden grinding of gears and a roar of diesel engines we were off, hurled into space like sacks of feed at the grain elevator. My guts squished up against my ribs as centrifugal force worked its magic. We flew forwards, then backwards—a pathetic cargo of humans trying desperately to balance the drudgery of day-to-day existence with cheap thrills. I felt sick with pity; not just for myself, but also for the entire stinking rat race. The ride lurched and bumped to a halt and I climbed out, shakier than Shane McGowan locked in a distillery.
“Let’s go again,” said my girlfriend, looking as if she’d sat through nothing more exciting than a few hands of bingo. If the Zipper hadn’t caused her to wet her panties the first time around, it seemed unlikely that further rides would do the trick.
“Ah, what’s the point?” I asked dejectedly. I’d had enough “fun” already. Now I wanted a beer.