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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Terror Tower

It's all because of a shirt. This morning, we had to go down to the hospital for the hand surgeons to have another look at Trent's post-operative progress. I didn't want to tote around a jacket, so I decided to look for a lightweight long-sleeved shirt to wear instead. And then I happened upon one of my all-time favorites. It is a black, waffle weave cotton knit shirt that is not too heavy for this warm-blooded Hungarian-American to wear on mild fall days. And it's also quite nice when the weather gets colder. I have had this shirt for years, long before I ever went to Disney World and experienced the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride. In fact, I had no inkling when I bought the shirt at a traveling Disney warehouse sale that I would ever go to Florida and actually ride the thing. I just saw this black shirt in a fabric that I knew would be comfortable, that had a really cool-looking design. I loved it at first sight.

I think it's rather funny that I never gave a moment's thought to putting it in my suitcase when we went to Orlando in late January this year. I wish that I had. I assumed that the weather would be mild and lovely, and it was exactly that on most of the days that we were there. But there were two days when the temperature didn't get over fifty degrees. Now, in the Denver area, when it's fifty degrees, you'll see people running around in shorts and sandals. We are a hardy bunch, I guess. But when you pair that temperature with humidity over eighty percent, it can feel downright cold. It reminded me of Mark Twain's comment about the coldest winter he ever experienced being a summer he spent in San Francisco. Mull it over for a minute and it will make sense.

When I put this shirt on today, it reminded me of the day I got my chance to ride the magical elevator in the Tower of Terror. If you have not experienced this treat, let me share some tidbits with you. After you have gone through parts of the haunted hotel, you are seated in an elevator. It will stop at various floors so that you can see the ghosts that haunt the hotel, and the elevator will even go into some of the hallways. The elevator rushes up and down the shaft so quickly that it lifts you off of the seat, and there is a delicious moment when it seems like it will fly right out of the front of the building. And every ride is different. The whole thing is run by a computer that randomly generates a unique experience every time the ride takes off.

Let me pause at this time to tell you that I am afraid of heights. I also hate roller coasters. Being in an open car and flying along at high speeds stops being fun for me when I see that the road (track) has disappeared, ensuring that I will momentarily be hurtling into nothingness and certain death. Nope, not fun. So it's kind of amazing that my first day at Disney World, I rode the Everest roller coaster. Not just that, but I sat in the very front of the ride. This thing goes forward and backward, and in the dark, and I laughed the whole way. Except, that is, for when I was shouting, "Must go faster!" Afterward, Trent asked me, "Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?" And I rode other coasters during our time there. But I was scared to get into the Tower and experience the flying up and the free fall. But I decided to do it anyway.

When we were in line, there was a sweet little boy in front of us with his mother, holding her hand very tightly in his. He was about five or six years old, and told us his name was Danny and that he was scared to get on the ride. As we waited for our turn to get on, he reached up with his free hand and held my hand too! He won my heart that day, that's for sure. I told him that I was afraid, too, but that we could help each other not be too scared. Hey, I couldn't exactly be a fraidy old lady and be put to shame by a little kid, could I? Actually, helping him cope with his fear made me feel braver, and be braver. When we were seated on the ride, he turned to me and said, "I hope I don't get scared!" I told him, "I tell you what. You hold my hand so that I don't get too scared, okay, Danny?"

Danny took hold of my hand, and then the ride started. He dropped my hand and buried his face in his mother's side. But he did pretty well on the ride after all. I don't think he screamed as much as a lot of the adults that rode with us. When we were getting off the ride and leaving, Marie and I told Danny that we were proud of what a brave, big boy he was, and I thanked him for helping me to not be too scared. His mother thought that he had been a bother to us, but we let her know that it was just the opposite. Having him there had made the ride much better for both of us. And seeing, and helping, this young boy face and conquer his fear was a priceless experience. When he headed over to the rest of his family, he walked like a conquering hero. And he had earned his bragging rights.

It's funny, isn't it? I started out just looking for something to wear that would fit in the "Goldilocks zone," not too warm, not too cold, but just right. Little did I know that I would choose a shirt that would give me such warm and fuzzy memories. And I hope that little Danny's memories are as great as mine!