One of the days I went berserk April 03 2016

I was nine when we embarked on one of our many road trips. This time we drove across Canada to Alberta to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins. 

A major highlight was the Calgary Stampede. 

My adventuresome 11-year-old brother was always up for anything and headed to the roller coaster, one not as big as major parks offer today, but no children’s ride either.

I was determined to go with him, even though the merry-go-round was more my speed.  

My parents tried to talk me out of it. They knew I was timid about such things. But I insisted that I wanted to go. Yes, I ‘m sure. No, I’m not afraid. Of course I’m old enough. Brave enough. Big enough. If Paul was allowed to go, I should be allowed to go too. 

They relented. 

Excited, we ran toward the ride, which loomed larger the closer we got. I was no longer so certain that I wanted to do this.

As we climbed the stairs, serious doubts set in. But I had been emphatic.  I said I wasn’t afraid. I lied. 

We got in our seats, secured only by a bar we pulled down across our laps. Now I was very clear: I did not want to be there in that seat. 

I looked down at my parents watching us from the ground and thought that would be a perfect time for them to put a foot down and forbid me from doing this. They didn’t. 

The car lurched up the incline. In full view of my parents and everyone else, I went berserk.

With Herculean strength I pushed that safety bar up. Paul struggled to hold it down. But I started to climb out of the seat. By the time we were at the top of the hill, I had one leg over the edge: I was getting off that ride.  

Paul, my hero, threw caution to the wind, grabbed me and pulled me back in. He literally held me down in that seat as I struggled against him, pushing him, crying and screaming “LET ME GO! I AM GETTING OFF!” 

“Horrified” is not nearly enough to describe for what my parents felt as they witnessed my meltdown. They thought I was going to jump to my death. Death wasn’t my intention, but jumping was. 

Paul held on to me with all his might. I continued to struggle against him. 

The ride, of course, included more than one loop. As we blazed through the starting point I was screaming at the attendants “LET ME OFF! STOP!”

‘Round we went again.

Paul had a new cowboy hat. He was very proud of that hat. Faced, with the choice between keeping his hat from blowing off or saving my life, he chose me. I will be forever grateful. 

We all need people who are there for us when we lose our minds, who save us from ourselves. Lucky for me, I have several. Fortunately, most haven’t been tested - yet.

You can see my “wild and free” bowl here. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a free spirit but I have never been wild - just a little berserk, here and there. 

BTW – Someone at the back of the roller coaster caught Paul’s hat in mid-air and returned it to him.

P.S. – When Paul saw this blog, he said “I love that story. The level of heroism has certainly improved with age and retelling.” But, that is how the nine-year-old me remembers it.

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