Although our relationship did not begin on an exciting note, Barbara Lu and I did begin to relate. (Read “How I Met My Wife” for the introduction to this blog.) We were young people, and the natural venue was the Young People’s Group, or the “Machen League”, as it was then known. When social events were planned, I would ask Nance (she was French, but it was pronounced “Nancy”) to come along. In fact that may have happened only this one occasion.
Anyway, the group was going to Long Beach New Pike. This was an amusement pier, complete with Ferris wheel and roller coaster, and therein lays the tale. (Magic Mountain was but an entrepreneur’s dream at this time.) Now it happened that we all stood at the entrance to the coaster, daring one another to ride. I always looked forward to riding the roller coaster, wherever the amusement park, and this was no exception. Nance, on the other hand, was refined and reticent. There was no way she would get into the seat of such a death trap. Well, this was a group date, you see, so Barbara Lu spoke up and said, “I’ll go.”
Little did I know at that time that she had had her own history with roller coasters. She tells the story of begging to go on the coaster when she was but 5 years old. Her mother, a cautious Brit in nature, resisted. Her father was more adventurous, so mother agreed to allow Barbara to go, certain that the experience would scare her out of ever asking again. You guessed it. She not only loved the thrill, but she begged to go again.
Now it was 14 years later and we were standing at the entrance of that very same coaster. Barbara Lu’s love for coasters had not diminished. So we got into the double seat together, and left Nance at the gate. We yelled and laughed in delight together. And I suppose I should take advantage of the obvious metaphor and say we have been yelling and laughing together for these 52 years since then. She has been by my side through all the ups and downs, bumps and jerks of life.
Now when it comes to literal roller coasters, I let her do the riding. I figure I’ve been there, done that. A couple years ago we had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas, listen to a 90 minute sales pitch for time share, say “no” and then enjoy the incentives of two motel nights and a trip up the Stratosphere. You know, it’s that tallest structure in Vegas that you always see at the beginning of CSI. The observation deck is 104 stories high, and that is enough to raise my pulse rate to the border of panic. Did you know that they actually have a roller coaster on the roof of that observation deck? And what’s worse, my Barbara Lu wanted to go. I told her that not only was I not going, but I would have a heart attack if she went. She briefly pondered those options and decided to forego the thrill.