The Zipper Did Not Cause My Fear of Heights, I Did It Because I Love You

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When I was twelve or so, my father convinced me —kinda forced me, whatever— to ride the infamous carnival ride known as The Zipper. Pops knew I was afraid, and I didn’t want to chicken out in front of him. So, I buckled in and said a prayer under my breath just out of earshot.

Don’t close your eyes.

But if I don’t close my eyes God won’t hear me, shit!

Oops sorry, God.

I didn’t like heights, but I never questioned why I did not like heights.

I came upon the revelation that tight spaces turn me into a writhing lunatic when wrestling in the backyard with my cousins and friends. If someone got me in a headlock or the full nelson, I would freak out to the point of tears. This always made me look weak but I couldn’t explain that ‘what had happened was‘ I had a panic attack. What the hell is a panic attack? I’m sure no one else in my circle of Hazen Hornets knew either.

The Zipper and the Deadly Combination of Confined Space and Height

The Zipper exploits a combination of both my fear of confined spaces and height. Pops just laughed and patted me on the shoulder. You okay? And I would nod, holding in tears because tears were for fears and I was still in full man mode.

I told myself I would never ride that damn ride again, but then, years later, this woman calls out my manhood. Early on, in my wife’s first pregnancy, she guilted me into riding the Zipper. After some begging and pleading, I relented and told her I was only doing this because I loved her.

That was the first time I uttered those words in that context.

I’ve been on other rides since that time in 1997, but very few. Actually, my next fear factor moment will be zip lining. I have this overwhelming desire to zip line; however, it has to be by my own initiation. Not for my wife. Not for pride. Just because it’s a thing I want to do.

Fear can either hinder you or help propel you to boundless heights. Most of our goals and accomplishments are synonymous with being afraid. Life changing moments such as getting married; giving birth; applying for the job of your dreams; it’s all a part of life that humanizes us and allows us to cherish the things we find most dear.

That’s why I loved the movie IT. The film keeps the spirit of the book, which, wasn’t about a clown. It is a coming of age story about a group of friends who had to overcome unthinkable odds to defeat an entity far greater than all of them who posed as a clown to scare the shit out of you.