Taming The Beast
When I was a kid, fourteen, fifteen, I walked the waltzer. Each summer, when the fair (or feast if you live in Barnsley) came to my town, I would be there strutting my stuff,
in my stretch jeans(does anyone remember those? it took you and two friends to get you into them, and mountain rescue to you out, and then you would walk odd for days, but ooooh, did we think we were the business) Anyway, back to the plot, there I'd be, skinny jeans, hair whatever shade of vile was in that week (but my favourite was hot pink), and the jacket that belonged to which ever boy was the current love of my life.1

I would pester the fair hands, as they tried to erect the rides, holding spanners, making coffee, and being a general pain. No one told me to leave, because they knew that come opening night, for the price of a greasy burger, and a couple of free rides, I would be their right arm.2

I even tried to run away with the fair once, but that's a different story.3

So, when the first night came, there I would be, gliding on those undulating planks, collecting fairs, reeling punters in, and looking like a goddess(hey I was a teenage girl, a huge ego was all part of the territory)4

When it was my turn to get a ride, me and my mates would deliberately wear white underwear, so it would show under the fluorescent lights, that way we could guarantee that our car would be pushed faster and faster, till we shrieked in exhilaration. Or we would sing out Maddonna's like a virgin at the top of our lungs, another sure way to get some attention from the guys. 5

Aah those were the days.6

Well, the fair's in town this week, same fair, same owners, and its the first time in years that I havn't been so heavy with child that all I could manage was an ungainly waddle round the hook a duck, so I announced to my teenagers that this year, mum was riding the waltzer one last time. 7

By their reaction, one might have thought I was planning on doing a lap dance on U Tube or something.
"What, mother, your 41 for goodness sake"
They spat it out like a dirty word, and that was the deciding factor. I was doing it, for every middle aged man woman or poet, for you Autumnspirit, and you Zappa for all the MichaelLeeSmyth's' and Glenn Shannon's of this world, I was going in, riding the waltzer, taming the beast.8

So opening night came, and I dug out my jeans, (not stretch ones, blimey the state of the NHS I might have waited months for them to be surgically removed.)9

The fairground had a strange effect on me, it's all to do with the way the music thumps in your chest. The first time I noticed this effect is when I met a mother from school, you know the type, polished off, flowing hair, that has never been pink, a poodle and a porche, ooh and a pony in a paddock. Well to cut a long story short, where I come from, we have a very strong dialect, that sounds almost foreign, as a nursery nurse I had to loose it, just so the children would understand me, and having lost it, I spent the rest of my life ensuring that my kids didn't acquire it.10

So this mother speaks to me, in her polished, educated accent, and what do I do
"Eyup, ahs tha duwin, ay ant sin thee in ages, dunt seem two minits sin we wah ere as kids dus it n nah look at us, knockin on"
Translation follows "Hey there, how are you? I havn't seen you in ages, doesn't seem that long since we were kids does it, and now look at us, growing old"
Needless to say, miss Porche and a pony mumbled something, and dragged little Tarquin away before I could pollute him with my revived cloth cap accent.11

The waltzer ground to a halt, with a familiar screech, and with my lungs full of the smell of diesel and grease, I was ready, this was my defining moment, and so, I waded my way through the sea of kids, ignored my heckling older teens, and with Ali, my Allie in all I do for comfort, I climbed aboard12

That's when I saw him, Roger, fifty whatever, stubble a beer gut, and ketchup on his overalls, that I'm sure was there last time I met him, twenty odd years ago, when I snogged him behind a caravan. I went pink, and thrust a five pound note in his hand13

Well Ali obviously picked up on the chemistry
"You did didn't you"
"What?"
"Snogged him"14

At this point Roger reappeared, and I could excuse myself by grovelling on the floor of the car, hunting for the change, I 'd dropped from my sweaty mit.
The ride started, just as I was getting up, and I was promptly thwacked by the safety bar, still, I gathered my wits as I tried to reinvent cool.15

I'm sure that waltzers were never quite so fast, dammit I used to walk one, now I could hardly stay in the car, we whirrled and spun and dipped, and all this time, I could feel the dam thing jumping on its track. Funny how unappealing a waltzer is, once you've discovered mortality.16

I couldn't lift my head up, all I could do (after saying a few hail Mary's ) was open my lungs and screech, seriously, I thought I'd died and gone to hell.17

But then it happened, the rebel in me, who has been dormant for years woke up, and remembering what we used to scream as youngsters called out
"When the red light flickers hang onto your knickers"
Poor Ali, she looked mortified, stuck her hand over my mouth, but Roger?, well that's another question. Those words, they woke the boy in him, he was back in the day, with me, when I was wild, and Madonna ruled the waves, when he had hair, and that ketchup stain was fresh.18

Walking the waltzer like a pro, he strutted over to our carriage, and spun us harder and harder, as if my lungs would explode
Eyes met, memories were silently exchanged
And then the ride stopped, I mumbled to him, clambered off in a manner much less sexy than I recalled from my youth.
Reality hit, along with a wave of nausea, and a round of applause from the kids.19

But I did it my friends, I tamed that beast. I rode the waltzer.20

One last time ? hell no 21

Thanks for walking the waltzer with T. and for those of you still trying to fight out of the stretch jeans, I recommend baby oil, and possibly re constructive surgery.

Comments:
 
StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 11/20/2009 3:05:25 AM
Ahh those days of youth and the things we used to do. And to get a chance to relive them (even partially). Your story here bring a few to mind. Running around barefooted all summer in Queens, New York. Ridng the Cyclone rollercoaster at Coney Island. (SIGH!) Thanks for the memories.

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