jeanine fritz

W hen I was in elementary school, Dad took my kid brother and I to Great America, where we were gonna eat funnel cake and ice cream and hot dogs all day and go on the log ride, the bumper cars, that spinning swing thingamijig and all the roller coasters.

We wanted so badly to suck the marrow out of the experience that we even agreed to check out the weak-ass pirate ship -- a horribly lame ride which swings back and forth.

There, in the moment, all little and dumb and whacked out of our gourds on sugar, we couldn't have known the most exciting thing that'd happen all day would be on that weak-ass pirate ship.

Filled to the brim with foods that'd kick-start a heart attack at age 12, all 50 or so of us clambered into our seats on the pirate ship and waited for the skinny dude with the mustache to pull the bar down into our laps.

The speakers crackled to life and the skinny, mustachioed dude announced, "KRSSSSHHHH. WEL bumbta krshhh krsshh pirate ride. Bars krsshhhh hands and feet krshhhh OK," and the ship began to gently sway back and forth.

"This is lame," said my brother.

With each swing in the opposite direction, the pirate ship climbed a little higher. "Yeah, way lame," I responded, as the ship reached a 90 degree tip.

"I don't feel good," said the kid behind us.

Suddenly, we were suspended upside down. The world froze in that position and I recalled the words of the skinny mustache guy who'd tried to warn us as hats fell, change leapt from pockets and flip-flops fluttered to the ground.

"Ma," said the kid behind us, whose whining was starting to annoy. "I feel aw...BLURP!"

And he puked.

And then the ship unfroze and plummeted to the earth.

And the spew which had been born from up on high was now racing the pirate ship to the ground.

You know what happened. You know half the folks -- trapped under the red bars, unable to flinch or dive away from it -- were covered in this kid's cotton-candy pink throw-up.

This is quite possibly the raddest thing that my brother and I ever witnessed at an amusement park. It may be the raddest thing we've witnessed ever.

So on a recent evening, making my way into Lakeside Amusement Park for a grownups-only, no-kids-allowed, let's-have-free-beer-while-we're-at-it night, I made some resolutions: I would not have both funnel cake and beer. I would not drop my jacket on the bathroom floor. And I wouldn't puke on a soul.

But while I didn't barf on anyone while the Wild Chipmunk coaster doled out whiplash and tears, I did show off my left boob to onlookers while screaming with my hands in the air. And when I got out of the roller coaster, I realized my skirt was now around my waist like a jaunty belt and my asscheeks had touched the Wild Chipmunk before mooning everyone in line. Something like that might not stay with people 15 years after the fact, but I finally understand how the Puking Pirate Ship Kid might've felt.