The Austin Chronicle

Stories from the Midway

Cyclone Pussy

By Greg Beets, May 10, 2002, Features

A common adolescent rite of spring in 1980s Houston was the AstroWorld Season Pass. Just $30 got you into the park from March through September. AstroWorld employees called us "Season Pass Pests."

If someone asked what AstroWorld's best ride was, you knew it was the Texas Cyclone. Patterned after the legendary wooden coaster, the Coney Island Cyclone, the Texas Cyclone won "Best Coaster" awards for years. On my first trip to AstroWorld back in 1977, I begged my dad to let me ride it. After repeatedly asking me if I was sure I wanted to, we climbed aboard the wooden coaster sensation. The next 2.5 minutes were the most terrifying of my young life. I thought I was going to die. For the next eight years, I refused to ride.

I became a Texas Cyclone Pussy.

I endured many humiliating chides for being a TCP, and waiting around for my braver compatriots to ride added inconvenience to insult. During one such wait, having blown all my quarters on skee ball, I stumbled into AstroWorld's hokum-engorged excuse for a magic show. I was only there to escape the brutal Houston humidity, but the magician's assistants, clad in sequined leotards and nude pantyhose, brought my buddies and I back dozens of times.

We once sat in the front row and a friend pointed out where one of the assistants shaved her bikini lines. "Hot damn!" we reasoned, "that's almost like seeing pubic hair!" But this fleeting exultation was tempered by the reality that I'd probably never get any closer to a girl unless I moved beyond things like my childhood fear of the mighty Texas Cyclone.

One summer day in 1985, I went to AstroWorld and ran into a girl I had a crush on. She was a budding post-New Wave princess two years my senior, wise in the ways of ecstasy-fueled nightclubbing (still legal at that time), and divinely inspired by Madonna in terms of both fashion and flirting. How I longed to pass out against her capacious bosom after only two wine coolers!

When she asked me to ride the Texas Cyclone, there was no way I could puss out. I tried, but she wouldn't let me. So we rode, and I loved every screaming second of it. That was as consummated as we'd ever be, but even today, I remember her fondly every time I board a nauseating thrill ride.

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