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Double Thrill
It was good to discover that I am not so jaded that I can’t feel the thrill, even after all these years. I’d say that only a minute or two went by during the experience, but time is really irrelevant. The thrill, it seems, lasts forever.

I was eight when I first rode the Giant Dipper, and I was blessed to have good old Uncle Martin riding with me. I say blessed because Big Uncs (as we called him) was tipping the scales at around 300 pounds at the time, and I was convinced that being wedged in next to him in the car was the only thing that kept me from being hurled from the train to a horrific death.

I needn’t have worried. There have only been three deaths out of the 65 million or so rides the Dipper has provided since it was built in 1924. All three were linked to over-exuberance by riders. Specifically, those people stood up when they should have remained seated. I won’t say that they had it coming, but when it did come, they were definitely trying to get its attention.

For everyone else, the end will come some other way. I suppose it might even come on another roller coaster, though these so-called amusements have a surprisingly good safety record. The newer models descend from dizzying heights at the most perilous angles, reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The world’s fastest, the Formula Rossa, is featured at Ferrari World in the United Arab Emirates, and it can hit a motor-assisted 150 m.p.h. — faster than freefall. The riders on such attractions are strapped in, tied down, and lashed in place in order to prevent any violent thrashing (or unauthorized standing). Even so, we lose 4.5 fun-seekers a year at our amusement parks. A pretty good average, really — though it’s kind of tough on that .5 of a rider. I don’t know, moreover, if these statistics include those poor devils who were scared to death.

The Giant Dipper tops out at only 55 m.p.h., but the only thing keeping you in (short of a stout uncle) is one not-that-snug metal bar. This loose fit is one of the reasons this rollercoaster is so exciting…that, and the creaky wooden frame of the coaster’s superstructure and its herky-jerky, old school ride.

And so it was, just last week, that I rode the Giant Dipper again. I can report that it was just as bone-jangling, teeth-rattling, and scream-worthy as it had ever been — and a total gas. With me were my twin eight-year-old nieces who were sampling the old coaster for the very fist time. I have managed to successfully watch my weight over the years, so I played no part in keeping them in the car. Fortunately, we all finished without a scratch.

I must say that they didn’t seem particularly frightened by the experience. In fact, I had to instruct them that screaming was not only permitted, but highly recommended for full enjoyment. Maybe they were simply playing their emotions close to the vest, just as I no doubt had on my first ride.

I am confident, though, that the experience made an impression on them, as it had on me. True or not, I got a vicarious thrill to go with my personal one. I’ll bet Uncle Martin got one, too.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon