My Mom and I decided to take my niece and nephew to the Ulster County Fair the other evening. I think we all had fun, and we did a couple of pretty cool things. Lili (my niece) was a little bit bummed because she had been watching the Carnival Eats show on television, and none of those crazy things were at the fair. No scorpion pizza for her, sadly.
We started small, with the kidlets and I riding the smaller of the two Ferris wheels. My Mom would not go on it. The fact that the kids and I were even on it is just this side of a miracle, really.
Let me break it down for you, Friends.
Back in the day, my Mom read a newspaper article about a Ferris wheel that fell apart at at fair somewhere, fully loaded with passengers. I'm assuming it was a bad scene with lots of injuries -- I never got the entire story from her. From that point on, my brother and I were never allowed to go on the Ferris wheel -- and other quasi-dangerous looking rides (as deemed by my Mom, and consisting mainly of roller coasters and things which went high up in the air) were up for debate. Now, if it was a permanent set-up, like at Disney World or Hershey Park? That was allowable...except for the Ferris wheel. Traveling amusements, like at the county fair or local carnivals? Hell no. The most air-born we were ever allowed to get was on those spinning swings.
That's my Mom in the red shorts, dead center. My niece is in the blue to the left.
So, as you can imagine, it was kind of a big deal that she let the kids and I go on even the smaller Ferris wheel. She probably wishes she hadn't let us, because while we were up there we had a pretty good view of the entire fair and spotted a couple of things we absolutely wanted to try.
Austin (my nephew) spotted a mechanical bull. He was so excited and determined that he was going to ride the thing. I didn't want to crush his little dream, but I had to give him a slight reality check:
- There might be rules that mean you can't do it. It might require that you be a certain age/height/weight. You're 8, dude. They might not let you on.
- It probably costs extra, and if it is a lot then it probably won't happen.
- We are going to have to convince Grandma that you aren't going to kill yourself on the thing. That will be the biggest obstacle.
We got off the Ferris wheel, and he was all jazzed about the mechanical bull. We went over to check it out, and it only cost $5. He was so excited, and there were no restrictions on age or anything.
And then came the stumbling block: a parent or legal guardian was going to have sign off and give him permission, promise we wouldn't sue if he injured himself. Friends, you have no idea the debate and amount of coaxing it took me to convince my Mom that he could handle this without killing himself. She was extra twitchy because we hadn't seen anyone else go on it. In the end, Austin got his Moment of Glory, and of course I had to shoot video. You can hear me rooting him on, my Mom wondering if he's smiling and having fun or scared, and me calling it when he is about to fall off.
You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the boy.
I congratulated him on a successful ride, and his rather graceful dismount. His reply? "I didn't want to fly off and get stuck by the horns." He totally had it covered. My Mom had absolutely nothing to worry about.
But she did have other things to worry about, because directly after that Lili and I decided to freak her out even more by announcing that we wanted to do the Stunt Jump. ( <---- Click that handy link there if you don't know what it is.) To say my Mom was unhappy with that would be an understatement.
Now, I had seen this thing before while working at the Arlington Street Fair. I couldn't do it then because I was working at the library's booth, and it would be inappropriate to duck out to jump off a platform. I was bummed about that. I had noticed the Stunt Jump as soon as we entered this section of the fair, but I hadn't said anything about it. I was going to do it come hell or high water...I just wasn't going to say anything to her about it.
Faced with the fact that both her daughter and her granddaughter wanted to jump off a platform? Not a happy moment for my Mom. But it was only $5 a person, and she got to see other people do it and walk away, fully intact with all body parts functional. I had to sign off on the waivers for both myself and Lili, as she "wasn't going to sign our death certificates" or some equally dramatic hyperbole. Oh, and it was going to be all my problem if Lili hurt herself and I was going to have to explain to my brother how I broke his child. To be fair, Lili does tend to be a wee bit accident prone and uncoordinated at times, so there was a much greater chance of her getting injured than my nephew riding the bull.
Whatever -- it will be awesome!
So I signed our papers, and we got our instructions on how to fall properly. Lil and I both wanted to get our jumps on video, so we devised a plan. Lili got the camera on her phone all set up the way she wanted it, and gave it to my Mom. Lili will jump first, and my Mom will record it. After she exits the jump area, Lili will take my phone from my Mom and get video of me making my jump. Clear and easy, right Friends?
I think, right up until the last minute, my Mom was kind of hoping we would either wimp out and change our minds, or that Lili at least would be too scared and opt to jump from the lower, little kid, platform. Didn't happen. Here is Lili's jump, with expert camera work by her Grandma:
She set it for slo-mo, cause she has a flair for the dramatic
She did great! My Mom managed to keep her in frame the whole time and everything. You can even see the silhouettes of the jump coach, myself, and the guy behind me in line waiting at the top before she jumps.
Then I jumped, and it was awesome. It was just as fun as I had imagined it would be. You might be wondering, "But where is the video of you jumping?" Fair question, Friends. I don't have one. There is a story -- or several, depending on who you ask -- about why I don't have one.
Remember the plan? Lili was supposed to jump, and then take my phone from my Mom and shoot the video of me jumping. Why? Because she is the most tech-savvy of the group. My mother never shoots video of anything. Asking her to do so twice in a row, on two different phones was just a recipe for disaster. Lil is the Snapchat/Instagram queen and should be able to do this in her sleep.
So I get done, exit the jump area because there is a guy behind me waiting to go, and ask if they got it on video. I'm met with a reaction of, "Well...." from my Mom, Lili just watching the video of herself, and Austin just being excited that he got to see us jump and he wishes he had done it too. Then my Mom hands me my phone and confesses that they saw it, but they kind of missed shooting the video. And then come the various explanations as to how they missed it:
- The first answer (and the truth) was from my Mom: Lili jumped, got my camera, but immediately had to watch the video of her own jump so she wasn't paying attention in time to record my jump.
- Lili excuse #1: "It said there wasn't enough space left on the camera." Total and complete bullshit. I took pictures and video the rest of the night without running out of storage space.
- Lili excuse #2: "You went too fast!! If you had just waited like 5 more seconds I would have been ready!" Also nonsense, as it took longer than that to watch her video.
- Lili excuse #3, ready about an hour later: "Grandma took too long to give me your phone." Such lies, and immediately shot down by Austin who chimed in that "Grandma gave her the phone right away."
So, no. I don't have a video of my jump. I can be seen as part of the shadowy group at the top in Lili's video, and I have a picture of the lovely marker on my hand stating that I was approved to jump.
SJ for Stunt Jump
Next time I need video, I'm totally giving my phone to Austin. Sure, it might be out of focus, or at a crazy angle. I might just be a brief blur moving through the view. The result might not be optimal, but it would exist. If I give Austin a mission, my little dude will get the job done one way or another.
And just to prove that my phone was totally capable of the job, here is a video I shot of the kidlets on the slide later that evening -- you know, when Lili was busy claiming there was not enough space on the camera.