Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quarter For a Ride

I went with my mom to do some Christmas shopping.  Actually, I felt like her elf carrying everything around.  I didn’t need to do any shopping and she was looking for gifts for my grandma and uncle to give to several people. 

At one point, she told me to go away for a while.  That was her subtle way of telling me she needed to shop for me, so scram. 

I went out into the mall and sat on a bench to wait.  I happened to be facing an area with those little rides for kids.  There were several boys over there climbing all over them.  None of them had fed the machine the quarter(s) to make them go (it used to be a quarter, it’s probably $2 now), they were just climbing and jumping off them.  They were all car or bulldozer rides.

I couldn’t help but wonder why all kids are fascinated by them.  All kids see them and zero in, begging for a ride.  It’s not like they do anything exciting.  They just move back and forth slowly.

But all kids love them.  Why?

Then, suddenly, I had a flashback to my childhood.  I too loved these things.  They were different when I was a kid.  Usually, they were horses to ride; pretending that you were a jockey racing a horse to the finish.

I used to beg to go on them.  I will admit that I never felt fulfilled afterward, which might be why I wanted more. 

I usually got to ride these quarter horses (pardon the pun there) in Kentucky during the summers I spent with my grandparents.  The interesting thing is that my grandparents’ owned racehorses.  You would think I didn’t need to ride a plastic electric horse, but I loved it. 

To be honest, I never really was allowed to ride my grandpa’s horses.  They were racehorses and he always said, only the jockey could ride them.  He did have a few that weren’t racehorses, which he rode sometimes, but we couldn’t ride them alone.  I remember once riding when my aunt was visiting.  She could ride well, so she had me in front of her and took off on that horse.  Scared the crap out of me. 

The quarter horses were too slow, but the thoroughbred was too fast. 

Yet, I continued to want to ride those rides.

I know they put those rides in malls to “entertain bored kids” (really, it is just to sucker a few bucks out of the parents).  The horses I rode were outside the grocery stores.  

Even if a child has never seen one, they immediately are drawn to it and beg for a ride. 

What is it about items we have to put quarters into?  Rides, video games (old school arcade games, that is) and gumball machines.  Children are drawn to them all.  I was one of them.  I bet you were too.


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