A Fair Memory

by JP on September 1, 2011

Holy Hanna, this summer is flying by. September is already here! We attended my sons first open house, the preparations for baby are going full throttle, third trimester is upon us, and it still feels like I was an unemployed drag on the eco

nomy just last week.

This last weekend my family hit the Minnesota state fair. This has always been such binge-fest for me. I would routinely consume thousands of calories a trip in my twenties. The cheese curds, french fries, and Sweet Marthas cookie bucket are likely guilty for 37 pounds of my current weight. I’d go with a group friends, and I’d see people sharing their mini feasts. I was in the mindset “get your own, and ya mooch!” It’s sad now to think about friends trying different foods as we traversed the grounds, and I tried everything. There were no breaks in the action for me.

Well that was until we made our way to the midway. I knew I was a rapidly expanding man, but this was the first gut punch as young big adult.

We bought out ticket for some rides and made our way to some poorly constructed instrument of fear. It looked to tumble, spin, and shake like a mother, so we all decided it was a perfect starting point. We waited in line, made stupid jokes, used bad pick up lines, and finally began loading.

The seats were fastened from above so they appeared to hover over the ground. I hopped up and was met with a screech of sweaty back fat meeting molded plastic as my shirt rode up. I knew there was some space behind me too so I began to wiggle my butt deeper into the seat. The carnies were going around and pulling the shoulder harnesses down. I thought nothing of it. I pulled mine down and held it firm to my not so firm chest. I waited for them to lock it in to place, but my group was already immobile. “They’re self locking! What the hell?”, I remember thinking.

The carnies met at the front of the ride and started talking. In my mind I could see a red light flashing on the operator’s dashboard, “TOO FAT, TOO FAT, TOO FAT, TOO FAT”. I’m surprised I couldn’t instantaneously pull that shoulder harnesses into place because I was cowering from fear and shame. I felt like I was six inches tall. Then they looked in my direction and started walking my way. Time slowed down. The lights of the midway began to blur. I began to panic. I pulled as hard as I could and heard a click. They were on top of me just as it happened. I pushed up on it, as if to show them that fatty got it fastened. The leader looked at me, gestured to a light above my head, and told me that the light has to be green. He put a shoulder into me. Five inches tall. It didn’t move. He called for help. Four inches tall. Two guys bear hugged my seat trying to make a light blink green. Three inches tall. All the harnesses in my group raised in unison. Eff word. Two inches tall. “You don’t fit chief, grab your tickets up front”. One inch tall.

I skipped the refund. I bolted off the deck of cards ride in to the open arms of some funnel cake. That was the first and only time I’ve been kicked off the a ride for being too big. Despite loving the thrill I haven’t stepped within the confines of an adult midway or amusement park since. Sure I’ve been around them for my kiddo, but never for me.

Sunday morning as we made our way through the fair I looked down the midway and felt that rush of fear, shame, and anxiety.

I’m not exactly setting the weight loss world on fire right now, but I someday I am going to walk down that midway. I will purchase my tickets. And with my boy by my side, I will find that stupid ride. I’ll wait in line, and I’ll ride that damned thing if it’s the last thing I do.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura of Lauralovinglife September 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I’m sorry for your true life nightmare, JP. What do they say in the drug addiction shows… “that’s what rock bottom feels like?” I’m guessing that’s it right there. Good news is: you’re not there anymore! Even if you’re not “setting the weight loss world on fire right now,” you are still in it for the long haul. It’s such a long process, not only physically but mentally. Sometimes you just gotta rest and think for awhile–believe me, I’ve been doing that for about a year while I’ve stayed within the same 5-10lb range. I’ve just now got my mojo back, and I’m feeling great. Keep your mind in the game, and soon you will be blazing down the weight loss path again!


Carrie @ No More Tomorrows September 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm

That kind of moment came for me when I was on a plane. In fact, it was the last time I was on a plane almost a year ago, and now that I’m going to be flying in little over a week, I’m a little scared about it.

I went to buckle my seatbelt and it wouldn’t buckle. I pulled and I pulled and shifted, and then, since it was winter and I had on layers, I just tucked the belt under my jacket and made it look like it was hooked in place. Nobody ever said anything. I was horrified at the thought that the flight attendant would notice and say something to where I would be called out for being too fat.

I am excited for you, for the day you ride that ride. It will come, and it will be worth all the work it took to get you there.


Jenna Z September 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I am so sorry this happened to you. It’s a horrible memory to have, but you have a great attitude about it. You WILL ride all those rides! My husband and I were SO surprised at Disney World because almost all the rides were completely doable for larger sized people! It was such a relief for him to not even worry about fitting in or buckling up and it made our vacation last summer 10 times better. But I wish he had the gumption you do to show those midway rides who’s boss. It will feel SO GOOD when you’re able to do what average sized people are able to do, ride incredibly rickety, carny-run death traps!!

For me, the part of your story that really hit home was this sentence “I bolted off the deck of cards ride in to the open arms of some funnel cake.” How many times have I done that, had some trauma or event happen or even just a surfacing feeling or remembering something from the past and where do I go? Bagels and ice cream and a box of cereal. I am reminded not to run from feelings, FEEL them! Thanks for that reminder.


Liz September 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Me too.


Kris September 3, 2011 at 3:09 am

I in my entire adult, and adolecent life, have never been on any amusement park ride that wasn’t the carousel. I feel your fear Jp. I remarked to Jenn when we were at the Washington County Fair that someday I too will made the jump to get on a ride. My fear has held me back from so many things.
If you take a look at my blog tonight, I fly to chicago tomorrow, and all the fears I had from when I was 400+ pounds are still with me at 250 pounds about getting on an airplane. What if I am too big, because at one point I was too big.
I still fight those demons, and I am still fighting to get to where I want and need to be. Someday together we will all go to the fair, and walk and laugh, and ride something dangerous.

Don’t give up JP! You and Little D will soon be screaming with laughter or fear having a grand old time on a ride!


Tony September 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm

MMM same thing happened to me at Valley Fair. truly horrifying experience.


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