Remember that movie, 8 Seconds, about the talented but ill-fated bullrider? (Yeah, I don’t really remember it either.) What I do remember is that the hero of the movie wanted nothing more than to stay on a kicking bull for a full eight seconds which, to me, didn’t seem like much time in which to fulfill one’s destiny. But last weekend, due to forces both within and out of my control, my admiration and sympathy for this aspiring bullrider exploded. Eight seconds? It’s a lifetime–for renegades like us, anyway.
It all happened on the boardwalk of Seaside, Oregon. I have decided that most great things in life occur on the boardwalks of small beach towns. Where else can you pay a dollar to look at the ocean (pay-per-view telescopes) five dollars for a piece of fried dough dunked in cinnamon (elephant ear), and ten dollars to spend eight seconds on a plastic spinning shark? Remember that song, Under the Boardwalk? Forget it. On top of the boardwalk–that’s where I’ll be. Eating elephant ears and riding the mechanical shark, recapturing my youth for under twenty bucks. Hey, it’s cheaper than most things I’ve tried.
I did not plan on sharing this thrillride with you, but since the Hub put it on facebook without telling me, I now feel a little backstory is in order. How did I end up risking my life on this scary shark? Well, I:
1. Walked into a store where loud music was playing and many unsavory individuals were standing around the shark, looking at it as though they wanted to ride him but were too afraid. (Excuse the gender bias, but due to heir cruel and competitive nature, I’ve always assumed all sharks are male. No offense, males.)
2. Consulted with my mother-in-law and my conscience, then decided that I’d show said unsavory individuals a thing or two about Mormon Moms from the East side of the mountains. (In the Pacific Northwest, unsavory West Coasters tend to look down upon us wholesome East Siders. It’s a sort of West Egg/East Egg/Daisy/Gatsby/Jets/Sharks/Montague/Capulet/Soda vs. Pop kind of thing that I really don’t have time to get into right now.)
3. Consulted with my stretch denim jeans, which had been worn for over three hours that morning and would thus provide the wiggle room necessary for the spread of my rear across Scary Shark’s spine. This was both a happy and frightening realization, as it eliminated the last reason I had for not attempting Scary Shark.
And so, ignoring the tearful pleas of my already-mortified daughter (tweens are so touchy!), I mounted the fiberglass mass. And speaking as one of The Few who has done so, let me just tell you: that shark wasn’t just scary, it was slippery. Very slippery. Sleek doesn’t begin to describe it; this beast had to have been rubbed down with Crisco by some Machiavellilan carnies who take perverse pleasure in luring Dorky Moms onto the machine, only to buck them off in a disgracefully short span of time. What I’m really trying to say here is that my slow and awkward dismount from this spinning animatron was–as is everythin that goes wrong in my life–Really Not My Fault. That fish was rigged. I’m telling you.
And yet I clung to that scary, slippery shark with all of my motherhood might. In fact, I’d like to think that my tenacity with the fish was a metaphor for my life. (It’s a sort of Carpe Diem/Footloose/Life-Is-Not-Measured-By-The-Number-of-Breaths-We-Take-But-By-The-Moments-That-Take-Our-Breath-Away kind of thing that I really don’t have time to get into right now.) And when, after a valiant struggle (and, I might add, some rather impressive cheers from the growing crowd) it was time for The Heroine to go down, I broke my fall skillfully and landed atop that rubber mat with an effortless grace that kept my dignity intact. Watch:
Okay, alright. I know it didn’t look like that shark was turning very fast, but as on of The Few who have mounted it, let me tell you: it was actually spiraling out of control. And I know that fall may have looked somewhat, um, slow, but as on of The Few who have fallen, let me tell you: it was brutal. And I know that my ride on Scary Shark may have looked short and safe, but as on of The Few who have ridden, let me tell you: it was long and dangerous. And slippery. So slippery, in fact, that I’m proud of my 8 seconds on Scary Shark. They can grease me down, they can buck me off, but they can never make me quit. I paid ten bucks for these bragging rights, after all–that’s two elephant ears and one-third a bottle of Pearatin. Do they think I’m stupid?