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Stories from the Midway

She's With Us

We were on a family weekend vacation at Ocean Beach, Md., an excruciatingly embarrassing situation for my sister, nine years my senior. One evening we walked down the boardwalk to the amusement park that resided on a pier all summer long. My sister kept several paces ahead of us to allay suspicion that she was in our company, much less in our family. At the park, in a burst of enthusiasm and bravery, I decided I had to ride the Banzai, the ride that consists of two caged buckets on the end of long poles. The poles spin counterclockwise on an axis like the hands of a clock. I begged my sister to take me for a spin, I pleaded, I was relentless. My sister told me it would make me dizzy, that I would throw up, that I would hate it. Her warnings only stiffened my resolve. We were strapped in, and I was admonished to keep quiet for the duration of the ride. The carnie cranked it up and after a few swings, we were doing complete circles, upside down and everything. It made me dizzy, I wanted to throw up, I hated it. I screamed and begged for her to have the ride operator stop the ride. I squealed like Ned Beatty in Deliverance. As the seemingly endless ride concluded, I had earned the sneering bemusement of the ride operator and my sister's disgust with me was complete. As complete as the exposure of her charade.

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