A laugh is worth a thousand words

Caitlin Brown


Credit: Ron Soltys

This is one of my absolute favorite pictures.

It was taken by a camera strategically placed along the track to capture your special roller coaster moment — in my case, one of many moments that melted into an eternity on a roller coaster that felt like a death cart from hell. That’s how my eighth grade mind perceived it, anyway.

It was my first roller coaster ride ever — Son of Beast, there is intentionally no “the” in that title at King’s Island. What an apt name. Anyway, if you hadn’t guessed, I’m the one screaming my face off and my best friend from grade school, Kate, is the one laughing hysterically (and quite inconsiderately, in my opinion) beside me.

I hadn’t screamed that loudly since my brother jumped out of a stairwell wearing an alien mask. Only this time, the screaming lasted long enough to provide for what I’m sure was an enjoyable experience for the people sitting in front of us. Whoever you are, I apologize.

I’ve learned to view roller coasters with a certain awe-inspired respect. What other popular entertainment can strap you into a seat, hurl you around, under (hate those loops), up or down an elevated, labyrinthine piece of metal until your stomach feels like it’s going to come out through your eyeballs — all in the name of fun for the whole family?

Laughter is such a powerful expression of emotion. It allows you to step back from the situation and see it with a wider view. Laughter says you’re unafraid; you’re confident. Laughter tells others to stop taking things so seriously.

Yeah, right. Tell my scared, eighth grade self that. You wouldn’t have been able to. But I realize now, many reasonably scream-free roller coaster rides later in life, that some things you just have to laugh about. The other day I was walking up the stairs and I tripped over the toe of my boot. The ice cream I was holding didn’t spill, my chin didn’t smash into the step — life was good. So I laughed. I was still in a little bit of shock, so for a while I lay there, being rude, lying on the steps, laughing. My friend finally helped me up but not before I felt a lot better for having fallen.

Luckily, we can choose whether we want to get onto a roller coaster — unlike tripping up the stairs. But there’s still that same feeling of free fall — of not knowing what the next breath of a moment holds.

I like screaming. I like laughing. I like falling. I like flying. No matter which it is I’m doing, I’m free. I never knew that it would take being strapped into a roller coaster to teach me how to be free, but when you’re plunging along that track, what choice do you have but to do all four at once?

Caitlin Brown is a freshman nursing major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].