We ride the merry-go-round twice. The ornate pipes from the organ make even the most ordinary songs entrancing. The white horse is beautiful with its flowing mane. I run to the black stallion and feel brave atop such a handsome steed. My short hair streams in the wind, the smell of popcorn and cotton candy fills my lungs, my mouth and eyes watering as we speed up. I want to stay on this ride forever. I have my eye on the palomino but the rest of the group is ready to move on.
They sweep me away in a wave of enthusiasm, their undertow dragging me along. We stop for a snack and I become preoccupied with the wondrous crimson cloud of unadulterated sugar in my fist. I savor the pink sweet –tasting substance floating on a paper cone, trying to keep it in my mouth instead of my fingers when I see where we are. The dreaded bumper cars. I watch the assemblage of humanity aiming their cars at one another, accelerating then gleefully laughing at the mayhem and crashes. “Hey, Alice. The cars are shaped like animals. Pick your favorite.”
I try to find a reason to stand my ground but the voices to my left and right insist that this is the ultimate experience. Their declarations of “This will be fun” begin to sound like a question. “Aren’t you one of us?”
I throw the empty white cardboard in the trash and hand the gatekeeper my somewhat sticky ticket and choose a car in the corner. I find an animal that looks as meek as I feel. I sniff the air and smell fear.
Determined to join in the merriment, I hold my breath, step on the pedal and ram into the car in front of me. There is a jolt and a scream. The toddler sitting on her father’s lap has a bloody lip. The man casts a withering look in my direction and drives off. I spend the rest of my session avoiding all the other vehicles, fearfully steering the ears of this maniacal rabbit that has me encased in its belly. The buzzer rings and the session is over. My legs wobbling and my teeth rattling, I push my way out. The boy next to me says, “Wow, that was fun!”
“You bet”, I say, hoping to sound like everyone else.