Now I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think you should all know that I almost died over the weekend.

Don’t worry – I did manage to make it through, but they’re telling me to stay away from spinning around in circles and flying through the air upside-down for a while. Allow me to explain…

This weekend my girlfriend and I spent an afternoon at Busch Gardens, our local theme park known for beer, a handful of absolutely terrifying roller-coasters for those who prefer their internal organs turned inside out, and of course, more beer. There are also a few animals scattered throughout the park here and there, but let’s be honest – people go to the zoo down the street if they’re hoping to see baby giraffes or hippopotamuses. At Busch Gardens, it’s all about the thrill!

Which is an important point to consider in our story because as a general rule, I myself am not all about the “thrill” in any way, shape or form. I toss cartons of milk out a day or two before getting to the expiration date, I always wait more than an hour after eating before I jump into the pool for a swim, and I can’t even bring myself to watch the hit primetime game show Deal or No Deal. Ok, so that last one isn’t as much because of the thrills and suspense as it is because I just can’t stand Howie Mandel’s character on that show – “He. Just. Talks. With. Way. Too. Much. Emphasis. In. His. Voice.”

…and that explanation doesn’t have nearly as much impact in a written medium, but I know that I’m not the only one out there who’s bothered by this!

But anyways, so it pretty much goes without saying that if given the options of either spending the afternoon taking a brisk, refreshing walk through that aforementioned zoo or hurtling through the air at a hundred miles an hour, upside-down and inside-down, defying all the conventional laws of physics and even some new ones that probably won’t be discovered for another twenty or thirty years, needless to say if I had my way I’d be going with the giraffes and zebras. So why, you then ask, did I find myself on that fateful afternoon amidst a plethora of spine-tingling, rickety death-traps with names likes The Punisher and I Hope You’ve Notified Your Next of Kin… (note: actual coaster names have been changed to help my story sound scarier than it normally would be to someone who isn’t a wuss)?

Of course, it was one of those girlfriend-induced adventures because it’s really no secret that with the right member of the fairer sex around, we’ll commit to pretty much anything, be it taking her to Yanni on Ice or shopping for a new blouse because there’s still three vacant inches of space left in the closet or even plummeting to your untimely death voluntarily because, well, she likes that sort of stuff! And the truly twisted side of it is that somehow I’d probably even end up going back again if she so desired because that’s just what a messed up gender we are, guys. Tell me, is it better or worse the second time when you know exactly when to let out your blood-curdling screams for each dip and turn?!

Oddly enough, it wasn’t Sheikra in the end that was the worst of the bunch – Sheikra being the park’s newest torture device that proclaims dropping its victims 200 feet straight down at 70 mph without even offering them a free change of pants upon their return to Earth. There was the Congo River Rapids that although appearing to be nothing more than a children’s ride down the river, ended up soaking me to the bone worse than had we actually just gone swimming down at the pool instead! But the real culprit of the day, and consequently our last “ride” of the afternoon, was Gwazi, which I believe is African for “roller coasters should never be made out of wood unless you’re insane.” Gwazi is actually two roller coasters in one, meaning that at times riders are actually offered the unique view of watching other riders throwing up on a nearby track at the same time! Mind you, I can’t vouch for this myself because I was too busy closing my eyes as tightly as I possibly could and making up new Gods to pray for my safety to throughout the duration of the ride…

All in all it was an “interesting” day because really, how many people can boast that they saw their life flash before their eyes seven times in the course of merely a few hours? Afterwards some suggested that a few beers would’ve made the trip more bearable, although I don’t think the people sitting around me would agree, seeing that as much as it hated me throughout, my stomach did thank me on the way out for not trying to fill it in between rides! Now that would’ve been something to see…

But I’m back at home now, safely and firmly planted on my couch where I belong. I’ve got three hundred channels of digital cable and Internet access if I’m feeling up for some thrills, and some meatloaf from last week still in the fridge if I’m looking to recreate that other feeling, so I’m good for now. As for my girlfriend, she’s happy that I gave chasing death a chance and rode some of her favorite rides with her that afternoon. And she also knows that it probably won’t be happening again anytime soon, so if you could refrain from hinting her in on that power of hers that is making me do whatever she wants … at least for a little while, my stomach would certainly appreciate it!

Chasing Death – now that would be a good name for a roller coaster!