A Ride On the Wild Side

So here I am, nearly 143 feet in the air, close to the top of Six Flags Over Texas’ new roller coaster, the so-called “tallest wooden roller-coaster structure in the world,” preparing myself for the plunge of a lifetime, and the guy beside me in the little coaster car looks out in the distance and says, “Hey, you can see my apartment from here.”

Excuse me?”

Yeah,” says the man, thirty-year-old Gary Slade, the regional representative of the American Coaster Enthusiasts and the roller coaster columnist for an international amusement-park newsletter. “I have an apartment within walking distance of Six Flags.”

We are almost at the top of the Texas Giant, the click-click of the coaster wheels has come to a near-stop, and I know we’re about to drop 137 feet straight down, like sinners headed to a fiery hell. Although this is an enormous moment for me—a chance to experience absolute fear—I keep looking curiously at this reedy Slade fellow.

You see,” says Slade, apparently unaware that our lives are on the line, “if my car breaks down, I can walk over here and still get in a daily roller coaster ride.”

Whoomp! The train goes down, and the insides of my body start to come out of my ears. My eyes press back into my skull.

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