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Friday, May 18, 2012

A DAY AT THE PARK


Fun, anyone?

Did you hear of the mime who died?

It was 1 pm on a sunny day at a park somewhere in Europe or the Americas, and this guy, he doesn’t even think before he brings out his lunch. Like me, he loves a good routine: 1pm every day = lunch time. So he sits on a park bench and gets out his chicken sandwich, and he takes a bite. Two bites. Three. Four. On the fourth swallow, a morsel of chicken gets stuck in his trachea.

The mime tries to get the attention of a passerby. He’s gesturing wildly with his hands and his eyes bulge, like they’d pop right out of their sockets. A passerby stops and stares at the mime, then he breaks into a smile, nodding his approval. This dude is awesome! He calls the attention of another passerby, and another, and another, and soon there’s a good-sized crowd, the kind our poor mime would never have been able to pull were he not dying. The mime stretches his hand, trying to reach the person nearest to him. Too far. He falls onto his knees, grasping his throat. His face is turning blue, but it’s hidden under the mask of white that is part of his costume. With the last of his strength, he’s trying to speak. The crowd breaks into applause. People are smiling, telling each other how great he is; how real. His last thought as he crumples to the ground is, Oh, man, this sucks. The applause continues for minutes after, until some genius decides you can only fake not breathing for so long.

See, I’m human and I felt sad when I heard this story. But it was a detached sadness; a how-unfortunate-for-him-I’ll-just-go-on-ahead-with-my-day type of sadness. I couldn’t relate. Until a certain day when I decided to go on a certain ride at a certain theme park. If you know me well, you’d know that I’m not thrilled by speed or wild rides. Besides, I’d seen Final Destination 3; there was no way I’d get on that ride if it looked even the least bit not okay. I was there on vacation, not to die. This ride looked relatively harmless, though; like one of those very tame merry-go-round type things they used to have at Apapa Amusement Park. So I was like, heck, why not. My more adventurous sisters and friends charged ahead. I followed.

We got in line and got on the ride. Each seat took two people, and there were five of us in my group; I was the one left without a partner. There were a couple of guys sitting alone, but feeling like a brave someborri I ignored them and went and sat on my own. The attendant showed us how to work the braces and I smiled and took a deep breath. Seriously, a ride that looked like this, how bad could it be?

I found out. 

The ride started off nicely enough. The pace was slow; the breeze only lifted my hair a little, and I could still smile and wave at the people on the ground. But before I knew what was happening, the thing started spiraling like mad. My braids were whipping my face and I was being thrown from side to side, up and down, and everything was a sickening blur of colours. I had to half lie on that seat and put my head down. Then, I wished more than anything that I had sat with one of those boys; a body beside me would have acted as a buffer and I would have been less likely to die. Better yet, I should have just stayed on the ground; who sent me? I held on to the braces - which weren’t as firm as they’d seemed earlier, by the way - like my palms were glued to them. I knew that if I let go, I would not leave the theme park on my feet.

So I hunkered down in my seat, with barely enough air in my lungs to beg God not to let me die. My fellow riders were screaming, and the people watching us were clapping, and I could hear my mother yelling at me to sit up, smile and wave, she wanted a good picture. Really?! Well okay, I’ll just pull myself upright, let go of the braces and give a quick wave. I’ll die, but hey, you’d get your picture.

I’m writing this today, so no, I didn’t die. The ride stopped and I clambered down on legs made of jelly. As I got off the platform, the attendant smiled at me. “Great ride, eh?” he said. To this day, I do not remember what happened next, but my people swear that when they  tore me off him, all four of them plus my mother, I had a piece of his t-shirt clenched between my teeth. 

I cannot verify this, though. All I remember is blackness, and then me sitting on a patch of grass with my head between my raised knees, thinking, Oh man, this sucks.

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