There on the Coney Island boardwalk, between the go-karts and the carousel, is the Thunderbolt.
It’s a rollercoaster with a 10-story-high drop, 100-foot vertical loop, 112-degree over-banked turn, and a 27-meter-long zero-gravity roll, all on 2,233 feet of orange track that you fly over in two minutes.
And I had zero plans to ride it.
I’d seen it from the pier. It was one of those overcast days that still left you squinting. And I’d squinted across the boardwalk to that wiry orange loop-de-looping as it dropped a bunch of riders down 10-stories.
Holy Moly. Wow. Incredible. But no, sir. No thanks, I told myself as I walked down the pier. And a few good rushes of justification came rolling in: Who’ll hold my bag? I bet it costs a fortune – like 30 bucks. Yeah and you know what? I’m not really an amusement park ride person anyway.
I stood at the end of the pier now with the Thunderbolt behind me, the Atlantic in front of me. My reasoning seemed pretty reasonable.
Plus, it’s a stupid rollercoaster. Big stinking whoop. Who needs it? Not me. I’ve got better things to do with my time, thanks.
I turned back towards the boardwalk and the go-karts and the Thunderbolt. Big, dumb jumble of orange metal, I told myself. And perhaps the ugliness of that thought shook loose a little clarity – just enough for me to see how quickly my wonder had become fear and my fear had become cynicism. Cynicism which just smashes all the wow’s and the Holy Moly’s and other life-filled things.
And I can answer to a lot of feelings in this life. But I don’t want cynicism to be one of them.
So, I walked down the pier, across the boardwalk, and up to that Thunderbolt. I paid 10 bucks. Turned my bag over at bag-check. Sat in the front row in the middle – because if I’m going to do it, I might as well do it, right? And rode 2,233 feet of orange track, whooping every foot of the way.
I’ll tell you, it was Holy Moly. It was wow. It was incredible.
And while I’ve answered to cynicism in the past and I’ll probably answer to it in the future, for two Holy Moly minutes on Coney Island, wonder and other life-filled things won out.