Tall Enough to Ride?

I have always been short. Petite, small, little, tiny, pint-sized, I’ve been called every nickname in the books. I think I hit my current max height of a whopping 4’11” around my junior year in high school.

At an elementary school book fair a few weeks ago, I spotted this book, You Must Be This Tall. On the cover, as you can see, there is an illustration of two snakes in line for a roller coaster, and the pig working the roller coaster has a height bar to measure the minimum height for riders.

I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of this book. Without even reading it, the illustration on the cover flashed me back all too vividly to a hot day waiting in line for a roller coaster in my youth.

I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of this book.

One year my best friend Dot and I went together to the school’s designated day at our local amusement park, Dorney Park. We must have been around thirteen or so. I was hesitant to ride the big roller coasters but she convinced me to get in line for the big, twisty roller coaster called the Flying Dutchman. It was my first serious roller coaster. We waited at least an hour in the line winding back-and-forth through the gated waiting area. My nerves never let up during the whole wait. I hemmed. I hawed. She kept me from running away from the line numerous times.

Finally, we arrived at the front of the line. The kid monitoring the ride sat slouched on a backless stool with the height monitor bar in his hand. My palms were sweaty with anticipation. I was proud I had stayed in line against my better judgement, ignoring my very persistent fears, letting Dot convince me that it would be fun and not scary. The kid grabbed the bar, leaned towards me and swung the top of the height bar cleanly over my head. I stood for a moment, unsure.

“You can’t ride,” he said nodding to me, “too short.” He squinted up at the people behind us in line. “Next!”

Dot and I stumbled away, my adrenaline draining as we walked away from the roaring Flying Dutchman, listening to the screams of those taller than the height bar enjoying their thrill.

Me, left, and Dot, right. Styling! This was probably a few years before I tried riding big roller coasters, but gives you sense of our height difference.

If you want a variation on my teenaged ending, enjoy¬†You Must Be This Tall (though I’ll warn you, the book is fictional). I laughed out loud at the end.

Photo from Pinterest of a sign posted at the park in remembrance.

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