On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Sugar Daddy woke up at 6 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. “I’m too excited,” he said. “I’m like a little boy on Christmas.”

And why was this? Because he and I (and none of our children) were going to spend the whole day at Six Flags Magic Mountain riding roller coasters.

When SD was a teenager he would buy a season pass to Magic Mountain and go there with his buddies every Tuesday. Since he started playing Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, he’s been obsessed with returning. He made me promise I’d go with him. Or he begged. Something like that. I told him I would because despite the fact that I am no fun, I hadn’t been to Magic Mountain in almost twenty years and I thought it might be a kick. And it was. In the head. But I’m getting in front of my story.

We got there early, before the park opened. SD was anxious to ride on their new coaster, X. He decided we should go there first, before the lines got too long. I said okay. Because I had no opinion. I was still innocent then.

I was very calm as we stood in line, despite the fact that roller coasters have always kind of scared me. The last time I went to Magic Mountain, their biggest, scariest roller coaster was Colossus, and though I never was a thrill seeker, I still rather enjoyed the accidental thrills that came from hurtling through loop de loops and rounding curves at too-many-miles-per-hour screaming, “We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die!” at the top of my lungs.

Like I said, that was a long time ago. The stuff they’ve built since then makes Colossus look like the spinning tea cups at Disneyland. They have roller coasters you can stand up on, roller coasters where you dangle your feet, roller coasters that shoot you forty stories up in the air–and X promised to be the most intense of them all.

To begin with, you ride with your feet dangling; the “car,” such as it is, rides along the side of the track; said car also has the capability of spinning 360 degrees while you’re riding. All of this I knew, and I was okay with it–until I watched the first group of riders tilt backwards and whoosh down the track.

“I’m scared,” I told SD.

“Don’t be so tense. We’re not even on it yet. You gotta relax.”

“I’m scared.”

You should know that this whole I’m-scared business is not some big act I put on for my man so he can feel all macho and brave. When I’m on a roller coaster, I really, seriously think I’m going to freaking die. Oh, there’s some rational part of my brain that knows roller coaster accidents are rare and roller coaster deaths are extremely rare, and millions of people ride on them every year without incident, and they’re designed by really smart people who know their math and physics, and Six Flags would never be able to buy liability insurance if the risk was so high, and these employees look very professional and concerned about my safety, and yes, this seatbelt is latched, the shoulder restraint is locked, but we’ll just test it again anyway, to be sure, and that crank-crank-crank sound as we go up the hill is perfectly normal, but we’ll just test the shoulder restraint one more time before we go down that first drop and panic ensues. Did I say panic? I meant to say, aaaaAAAAAAAAAA! AAAA! AAAA! AAAAAAAAAA! NOOOOOO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Actually, the traditional keyboard is inadequate for conveying the shrillness and desperation of this truly pathetic girly-scream I indulged in while riding on X. When the ride was over, I couldn’t speak, all of my limbs were shaking, and my heart was still pounding when we started boarding Viper.

The upside to visiting Magic Mountain the day before Thanksgiving is that there are hardly any lines at all; the downside, of course, is that no lines means no time to rest between near-death experiences. After Viper we rode the Revolution–mostly for historical value, and also so I could calm down a bit. It became apparent to me that the bowl of Rice Chex® I had three hours before and the handful of ginger mints I’d popped while waiting in line were not going to sustain me for the rest of the morning.

“I need to eat something,” I said.

“None of the eating places are open yet,” SD said.

“I have to eat something.”

We found a vending machine that sold candy bars at charity drive prices, and I decided on a bag of M&M’s–the peanut kind, because, you know, they’ve got protein in them. Right? Trust me, it made sense at the time. Having a little something in my stomach helped me feel confident enough to stand in line for DejaVu, but obviously I wasn’t fully prepared because I started screaming when I saw the incline and I wasn’t even on the ride yet.

“You’re being an awfully good sport about this,” SD said.

Yes, that was the entire point, I thought, to be a good sport. But good sportsmanship has its limits, and when I staggered off DejaVu, I headed for the nearest chair and put my head on the nearest table, not caring if it was clean or not.

“I need to rest,” I said.

“Okay. I’ve got to find a bathroom,” SD said.

“Fine,” I said, and as soon as he was out of sight I started crying like four-year-old.

When SD returned I repeated my plea for lunch.

“Okay,” he said. “We’ll have a nice, leisurely lunch and relax. But can we ride Psyclone first? It’s right here. Please?”

So we rode on Psyclone, and it was horrible. It’s one of their older coasters, and the thing is so rough and jerky I thought I was going to emerge with a case of Shaken Baby Syndrome. When the ride finally (mercifully) stopped, I told SD, “I’m going to be sick.”

“For real?”

“Yes,” I said, crawling out of the car. “I’m going to throw up.”


“It’s going to happen. It’s happening right now.”

“Okay. Okay–well, don’t throw up on the tracks. No, I take it back, you can throw up wherever you want to–except no, don’t do it on people–here! Throw up here!”

And so I spent the next several minutes being very glad that I was no longer a teenager, that I was already married, and that my kids had already divested me of my last shred of dignity, so there was no cause for me to be humiliated by the fact that dozens of people standing in line to ride Psyclone were watching me spew peanut M&M’s and ginger Altoids over the railing, nor by the many shouts of “Augh! Oh, that’s disgusting! Augh!” amid much giggling and guffawing.

“I need to find a bathroom,” I told SD.

“Yes, I’m looking for one.”

“I need to wash my hands.”

“I feel terrible,” he said. “It’s all my fault because I had to ride Psyclone because I’m a mean, selfish husband.”

“I feel better now.”

“And doesn’t it make you feel all tough, and male–”


“You know, masculine and–”

“Not so much.”

Happily, we had lunch shortly thereafter, and we took a couple kiddie rides to gear up for Scream, Colossus, and Riddler’s Revenge. All of which were scary and nauseating. But the contents of my stomach stayed miraculously put.

Not that I wasn’t exhausted from all of that trauma. “Isn’t it good to know there are things out there more terrifying than childbirth?” SD asked.

“That reminds me,” I said. “I want to go home and hug my children.”

As we walked over to ride Batman, another one of those “dangling” rides that looked very loopy and upside down, I wondered how I was going to psych myself up yet again. I’m too scared, I wanted to tell my husband. I can’t do it. You go ahead without me. I can’t. I just can’t. I just can’t.

“You know,” he said, “there’s no law that says you have to go on these.”


“I can go by myself if you want to sit this one out.”

Does he really mean it? I wondered. Does he really mean I can sit this one out and he won’t be disappointed? Or is he just saying that to ease his conscience because he’s afraid I’ll get sick again and he doesn’t want it to be his fault, but as soon as I call his bluff he’s going to start with the pouty lips and sad eyes and guilt me into going anyway? Is that how it’s going to be? Do I really have a choice? Of course I have a choice. But will I be sorry if I don’t go? I’m too rattled from Riddler’s Revenge to make this decision right now. I’m just going to keep walking and get on the ride and let fate have its way with me.

So I rode on Batman, which was very loopy and dangly and upside down, but all in all, not as bad as I was anticipating. Probably because I was doing my Lamaze breathing throughout the whole thing, which probably defeated the purpose, but it did give me enough courage to go on Superman The Escape.

Zero to 100 mph in seven seconds, then six seconds of weightlessness. A couple seconds of whimpering. Then I was done. We bought my mother-in-law a funnel cake and we drove home.

“This traffic is actually kind of relaxing,” SD said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Did you have fun?” he asked.

“Um…I don’t–ask me later.”

“Let me put it this way–was it your most extreme day ever?”


And considering that I’ve given birth three times with no epidural and that all of those children live with me–I think that’s saying quite a lot.