We went to the beach. To a beach with a pier and a nice wooden boardwalk and a funfair. We went there ostensibly to celebrate the birthday of one of my favourite four-year-old friends (on the occasion of him becoming a four year old), although since he was quite a lot too short to go on most of the rides I wanted to go on, it could be argued that I actually mainly went to Santa Cruz boardwalk for larks and shenanigans with a touch of lollygagging, AND fourth-birthday celebrations.
So alongside the laser tag and the log flumes and the the rollercoasters that rattled around the track like they were attached with spit and sellotape and led to me uncontrollably screaming OH FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST WERE GOING TO DIE WERE ALL GOING TO DIE PLEASE MAKE IT STOP NOW (after remembering to check that there wasnt a child sitting directly in front of me, of course. Well, sometimes remembering, anyway), we also went on some childrens rides.
Of the small-person rides we took there was one that was really quite scary. It was a train that went through a tunnel, and a mess of caves filled with enormous grotesque rubber-faced cave people with parts of their extremities painted in florescent paint so that they glowed, eerily, in the dark. Disembodied voices came from nowhere, laughter rang through the stale air, bouncing against the plastic walls and bloated and distorted cavepeople and, frankly, I was surprised they allowed children to go on it at all.
My little friend sat between me and his mother, bouncing at first, as excited to go on this ride as he was to go on any other, amplified by the fact we had to get on a train to do it and, well, hes a four-year-old boy, and THIS IS A TRAIN.
As the ride began, though he stopped bouncing, and became quiet, as he looked around at the weirdness in the dark.
After a couple of minutes, his hand slipped into mine.
And it stayed there the whole ride, holding tightly, and saying things like:
Its ok, Anna. Its not that scary. Its only made up. Dont be frightened. Its not real. You can open your eyes if you like, it will be ok.
Im a HUGE wuss.