A ’CCO poll named the Giant Slide as the favorite ride at the State Fair.
Personally, I’d choose the Tilt-a-Whirl. You have control. You wish to bob gently on the heaving metal plates? Enjoy. You want all your internal organs driven by centrifugal force to one side of your body? Have at it.
But you can see why the Giant Slide is beloved.
1. You’ve never seen a news report about 14 people stuck on the Giant Slide for an hour. That would be silly. Like this: “Fair officials suspect an infinitesimal black hole appeared beneath the slide, exerting a gravitational pull that could not be escaped. U physicists say theoretical models of the universe suggest that the black holes are gateways to another dimension where fairgoers would float for all eternity in a timeless state of unending existence, so maybe someone should tow their cars.”
2. You don’t have to convince yourself that being turned around upside-down in the air while screaming uncontrollably is fun. No one ever woke up on a cruise ship, noted that the room was tilted, heard screaming and thought, “Awesome! Hope she does a barrel roll on the way down.”
3. If you chicken out at the top, you can walk back down. Midway rides are like a hitch in the military.
4. It’s perfect for parents with small kids. They sit in your lap, secure, excited, nervous: such a long way down. When you shove off, it’s the best thing ever for both of you — she’s holding your hands, hair flying; a whee! is captured by the microphone and broadcast to the great wide world. Maybe she’ll remember. Too much to ask, but it would be good if she did.
5. No other ride is a metaphor for the summer, when you think about it. The Ferris wheel plows the air, leaves you right where you were before. The ones devoted to making you regret everything you ever ate are just confusion machines. But the Slide — aah, you stand at the top surveying all to come, just like the first perfect June morn. You lean forward — you rise, you dip — and then you’re in a pile of bags the color of fallen leaves. That was fast.
But it’s not entirely like summer. Your kid looks up, face alight, and asks: Can we do it again?
That we can. That we will.