My good friend Glenn Blodgett, DVM, is chief veterinarian at the legendary Four Sixes Ranch in Texas.
The big red sign at the top of the Disney World ride displayed a long list of health conditions. As Dr. Glenn Blodgett stood
reading, he realized he had nearly all of them. He had waited more than an hour in line with his kids and grandkids—only to
get to the top and find this? Why in the world didn't they put the big red sign at the bottom?
His wife had been wise. She considered a giant roller coaster inside a dark mountain to be something the grandparents probably
wouldn't enjoy. Now Dr. Blodgett stood there wondering what his next move should be. If he decided to go back, he would have
to go against the flow of the thousands of people headed to the top and face his wife, who would most certainly have a few
"I told you so"s to offer. Plus, what would the grandkids think if Papaw was too afraid to ride?
That decided it. He would brave the giant roller coaster for the kids. How bad could it be? After all, there were about a
million people waiting in line. If they could make it, so could he.
As bad luck would have it, he wound up in the front seat—the seat that led the way into darkness and would be the first to
smash into the ground if this hideous coaster derailed. A ratchety chain began to pull the car up into the pitch-blackness,
with the Blodgett patriarch leading the way. This probably wasn't a great place for a cowboy hat. But this didn't cross the
good doctor's mind after he read the big red sign. It soon would.
How long did this thing go up? Dr. Blodgett had no idea when the upward journey would be interrupted by the inevitable sudden
plunge back down. The anticipation was agonizing. This might be a good time to snug that cowboy hat down!
The ride lasted about four minutes—that's about all the rail you can stuff inside a dark mountain. But to Glenn Blodgett it
lasted about two days. If a person doesn't know when he's going to be thrown through the jolts of a sudden turn at 40 mph,
it forces him to stay tense and white-knuckled the entire time. To make matters worse? His favorite winter 200X beaver cowboy
hat vanished into the darkness less than halfway down the first massive drop.
Dr. Blodgett wiped the slobber off his cheeks as he exited the front row. He thought he might understand what a prolapsed
cow felt like. Every vertebra in his back felt like it had moved at least two inches in multiple directions, and his buns
had acquired calluses from his body sliding around. His hands were cramped from grasping the bar in an eclamptic grip. His
chest muscles ached and his lungs were empty since he hadn't drawn a breath since the first drop.
Plus, his head was bare. It had taken the entire coast back to the platform for him to realize his West Texas hat had been
eaten by the dark. The kids were jumping up and down, wanting to go again. What Dr. Blodgett wanted to do was put another
sentence at the bottom of the sign that said, "If you're wondering what's worse, going all the way back down or riding this
roller coaster, let me tell you—go back down."
It was after midnight when the Blodgett clan made it back to the log cabin they were calling home while at the park. Glenn
Blodgett hadn't stayed in bed later than 5 a.m. since he was in the sixth grade. But the next morning it was 9 a.m. before
he crept out of the sack. Every joint and tendon in his body had moved to a position it had not been in for 40 years. Three
days and three more theme parks were on the schedule.
One thing was for sure: there would be no more roller coasters for Dr. Blodgett. If there was a massage therapist anywhere
in this giant place, he was gonna find one. And now, for the rest of the trip, he was gonna have to go bareheaded. Sheeeesh.
Dr. Bo Brock owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.