Total Badass

Ages back, when I was but a wee and punkish youth, my friends and I took it upon ourselves to head to the local fly-by-night carnival that had set up in a dingy field on the edge of town. There was the usual assortment of pricey games for crappy prizes, and rides that rattled and moaned like they were inches away from shaking themselves to oblivion.

Dauntless, we chose to ride one, the Gravitron, one of those spinning deals where you get pressed against the wall. As the ride is loading, a couple enters with a very young daughter, whom the male of the couple decided to hold on his chest – this seemed like a very bad idea, but who were we to question? The ride continues to fill, and across the drum from that couple, a big, mean looking biker dude settles in to his spot. The ride operator, in a little booth in the middle of the ride, starts the gears in play, then puts on his headphones and starts reading a magazine (of the adult variety – does this tell you about the kind of carnival this was?) as the ride begins to spin.

Sure enough, about halfway through the ride, disaster strikes. The wee girl slips from the guys chest, and rolls to the side, her head slipping between the slats that everyone was pressed against…the slats that, when the ride stops, pinch closed. People start screaming, imagining what is going happen to the little girl. Some folks are trying to get the ride operator’s attention, but he is otherwise occupied, and their shouts can barely be heard above the din of the machine.

Suddenly, above the din, we hear a roar like a lion. Across the way, we watch the biker dude straining and roaring, as he pulls himself from the wall. He forces himself forward, his muscles straining, and reaching out, grabs a rail that is in front of him…and then slowly, carefully, fights the force of the Gravitron as he pulls himself around to the little girl all the way across the ride from him.

Placing his feet to either side of her, he continues to fight the tremendous force to lower himself down carefully. We could see every vein in his arms, his neck his head, straining against the motion of the ride. He reaches down, scoops the terrified little girl into his arms, and brings her to his chest, holding her tightly against the power of the spinning monstrosity.

Finally, the operator looks up, sees what is happening, and slows the ride. The biker guy hangs on as the ride slows enough that people can move again, then finally sets the girl down as the spinning stops. He looks as if he might collapse. He drops to a knee for but a moment, but then stands up, gives the girl’s (presumed) dad a stern, you’re-a-fucking-dumbass look, then turns his mighty, vengeful gaze on the ride operator. He leans over the rail, and in a deep, menacing tone, says “You need to pay more attention to your work, boy.”

And then he exited the ride, as the rest of us checked to see if our undies needed changing.

Sheer, utter, total badass.

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31 comments

      1. I have no doubt that he did, and I don’t think I would want to be on the receiving end of those words either. lol

  1. I can’t believe the Carnie didn’t check the people on the ride and tell the Dad he couldn’t do that. No safety check? That’s crazy. And that biker must be the strongest SOB ever. Too bad he didn’t beat that Dad’s butt.

    1. Like I said, it was one of those super shady, fly by night kind of deals. No regulations. Way out beyond the edge of town. Totally rigged games. And the ride carnie couldn’t have cared less if he tried. And yeah…I would not EVER want to be on the ass beating side of that guy. I’m pretty sure the only reason that neither the dad nor the carnie got turned into paste is that biker dude was worn out from the strain of saving the girl.

  2. That’s an awesome story. There’s a big annual carnival near the city in which I live…and while I used to go on their rides like the Gravatron, now all I see is Risk. I love rides…but I prefer the more permanent kind :)

  3. Today is definitely full of recalled badassery. It’s stories like this that I remember when someone says aliens built the pyramids. As if humans couldn’t achieve something like that without the help of aliens.

      1. He’s probably one of the people who’s super gene wasn’t turned off hundreds of years ago… No, wait… That’s the back story to 16Sunsets… Forget I said anything.

    1. I had the distinct honor of being raised by one. My stepdad was retired UDT (They were the basis for what became Navy SEALS), a biker, a poet, and a quiet, humble badass. I can only hope I do him justice.

      1. Don’t laugh at me, but I actually picture you as some sort of legendary hero —- a mixture of a Knight from King Arthur’s Round Table, a musketeer, a wizard, with a splash of Shakespeare. ;)

  4. Awesome story, Mark! I totally remember the gravitron. Kids here used to flip upside down and come crashing to the floor once it stopped. I always thought I was going to die, yet we kept going on it. Go figure!

  5. Mark, this is a great story of right decision, bravery and strength, a real-life hero here vs a stupid parent and an equally stupid and indifferent operator. On top of that, you tell it very well with energy
    and passion and a genuinely human touch. i really enjoyed this.
    My best to you
    john

  6. That is so badass that i thought it was fiction until i read your comments and realised that this actually happened!

    My dad was pretty badass too. He was a firefighter. All firefighters are badass to the core IMO. It takes a special kind of person to walk into a burning building, facing extreme temperatures and risk of death, to rescue someone who may or may not already be lost. He always said he was a hero and whilst i teased him constantly about it, he was.

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