Playing hooky: feeling the physics of freefall
As I’ve grown up, or at least acknowledged that I am a grownup, I’ve tried to be the best geek I can be. I’ve tried to teach my kids how to be good people who take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
But every once in a while, you need to let kids be kids.
And you even have to let grownups be kids, too.
And sometimes that means ditching work, family and all other responsibility to ride roller coasters with friends all day at Valleyfair.
That’s what a couple friends and I did recently. Of course, we were all responsible in shirking our duties. We found childcare for the kids, took personal days from our jobs and made sure our significant others knew when we would be back.
The Northland was once again mired in fog and low temperatures. On the road, the two of us who weren’t driving were constantly checking the weather conditions in Shakopee, Minn.
The floodwaters closed down some of the main attractions, and forced us to park in a nearby field, but the excitement of the day’s prospects couldn’t be dampened by such things.
The trip down to the park was, I knew, one of the best parts of the day. The journey, they say, is what’s important. And indeed it was a chance for the three of us to talk without the normal distractions that come with every-day life.
With the triad trapped in one vehicle, we were given license to delve into some really deep topics that had been weighing on our minds: “They charged you how much for snowmobile insurance?” “Team USA needs to get more aggressive with their goal scoring, I can’t believe this World Cup.” “What if our solar system is just an atom in a huge molecule that’s part of an even bigger universe?” “Yes, I’ve heard that cheese can really block you up unless you eat some carbohydrates with it.”
Soon enough, the conversations were over, and we started looking for our parking spot and offering the obligatory commentary on the crazy bumper stickers people chose to affix to their bumpers.
After paying our way in, we wandered aimlessly for a bit, not really knowing where to start. Eventually we happened upon the entrance to the premier attraction: Wild Thing.
I had evidently forgotten what a thrill it is to surrender your body to classical Newtonian physics. The giddiness I felt, the
butterflies in my stomach, I later found out was from the 60 degree drop of 196 feet that sped the open-air car I was riding to approximately 74 miles per hour resulting in 4.1 G’s before entering a 103 foot
parabolic hill which gives the rider a long section by which to experience low gravity.
Butterflies … all up in my guts.
It was an amazing feeling to actually take a little time to recapture the youthful exuberance and sheer joy of riding a roller coaster. Something I hadn’t done in at least the last 17 years.
I found something there, with my innards floating about, that I’m not so grownup as I thought I was.
And that was actually a big shock to me.
As a kid, you look up at grownups through the warped lenses of childhood. You see them having fun by sitting around chattering with a cup of coffee in their hands. They always seem so serious. They do not play around like a kid.
Maybe a part of me tried to shove myself in that box of adulthood. And maybe, for a while it worked.
But I discovered very quickly that I am still the same geeky little kid inside. I couldn’t shove that giddiness under the mantle of adulthood once it had been sprung.
I’m willing to bet that there’s a little kid in all of you. One who would give almost anything for the chance to recapture that sense of amazement, wonder, and, maybe, gastrointestinal dialogue.