Love my woman, love my baby, love my biscuits sopped in gravy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Over the last two and a half years I have become an excellent miner of carousels. I have this little person, pre-woman, who lives in my house and directs how my weekends will be spent.

What should we do this weekend? "Merry go roun round!" or "Shopping mall, Merry go roun!" is the frequent reply. That little bit of direction combined with a poor imagination on my part can dictate a thirty mile trip to a carousel. It forces me into malls, amusement parks and tourist traps where a two minute ride on a fiberglass or wood horse bobs up and down, going nowhere, sometimes fast.

The ones I've discovered around the Monterey Bay all have different advantages. There's one that was recently stolen or moved from near the aquarium in Monterey, which is too bad. At least we could shop for fish at the aquarium when it was over, and get an idea of what to order for dinner. The shark looks good tonight, and I think some calamari would be a good appetizer.

There's a couple in the mountains toward Gilroy at Bonfante Gardens, but unfortunately, it's seasonal and that means during the winter we're forced to find them indoors. That takes us to Salinas and the mall, which is not as bad as it could be -- a little dangerous sometimes with the stabbings and shootings, but at least you can ride a zebra, seahorse or bunny. A little variety in the selection never hurts.

The most dangerous carousel by far, though, is the closest, and the one I haven't had the nerve to bring the two year old to visit yet. That would be the carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It's the fastest, most terrifying twirling remuda of graven equine in the West.

This carousel travels at approximately 60 miles per hour in a tight circle, and leaves the proudest horsemen weak at the thought of traveling on it. Not only does it offer the challenge of retaining the greasy corn dogs and cotton candy packed loosely in your stomach difficult, it has a game that involves greasy metal rings and a clown. The object is to grab a metal ring from this arm that juts out and fling, huck or whip this thing at a this demonic looking clown and hit him in the mouth, which, if successful, rings a bell. I have never been able to ring the bell on this ride.

The problem is the speed and the proximity of that ring dispenser arm to your head means one minute of inattentiveness and it could be curtains for you. This actually happened once when I was on it. It was night and apparently this person looked back to wave jovially at his family, when there was a sudden yelp and a howl, and the sound of shattering glass as his bifocals exploded on his face and he tumbled to the ground in a bloody heap. That was the last time I rode that carousel.

That would be bad enough but it's not the worst thing that's happened around that so called Carousel of Delight. You may remember a little movie where Jack Bauer hung around it and ate people, called The Lost Boys. The most graphic thing that I can imagine that could happen on one of these, though, was when the bad guy in the Dirty Harry flick Sudden Impact falls from the roller coaster, crashes through the roof of the carousel and gets impaled on a unicorn on the merry-go-round. Ouch. Same merry-go-round.

We'll probably have to wait until she's three for the one at the Boardwalk. In the meantime, it's the 50 cent Wal-Mart versions and watching Mary Poppins on hers ten times a day, around the racetrack on her jolly holiday.


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