Big Serious

The afternoon sun peaked in and out of drifting October clouds. Kids screamed, rides squeaked, and game vendors shouted over each other about their prizes.

“Win a stuffed bear for the little lady – just 50 cents. Fifty cents to win a prize for the lovely lady,” they shouted as I walked by with my cousin and her boyfriend, Tommy. We didn’t stop – we were on our way to the Scrambler.

I stood in between Tommy and Trisha, looking up at the tall, cute, 19-year-old boy. I loved Tommy, the guy my cousin had been dating.

“Next,” said a gruff voice behind us. We turned toward the entrance and followed the beer-bellied carney to the silver car where the three of us would sit and spin for the next 90 seconds.

“Sit here, Kritter,” Trisha said, pointing at the outer corner of the metal car. She climbed in behind me and Tommy came last, settling in close to Trisha and putting his arm on the back of the car, around both of us.

I peaked over the edge of the car to find dad propping the beastly black camcorder up on his shoulder. He must have left mom and Brad at a kiddie ride to see what we were doing. He aimed the camera at us and I waved.

Trisha had seen him, too.

“Hey, when we get over close to your dad, let’s all make a serious face into the camera,” Trisha said.

“Okay,” I said, excited to be part of an inside joke.

“We can’t laugh,” Trisha explained.

“Can you keep a straight face, Krista?” Tommy asked leaning across Trisha to smile at me.
He knew that I laughed uncontrollably at nearly everything.

“Yeah, yeah, I can,” I replied, a little embarrassed.

“We’ve gotta be big serious,” Trisha said.

“Okay,” I said, looking back at dad and waving again as all the silver cars started moving.

The ride picked up speed and sent us weaving back and forth across the length of the fenced-off circle until we neared the place where dad stood with the recorder.

“Big serious,” Trisha said, laughing.

Tommy, with his arm still on the ledge of the car, looked stoically straight into the camera. Trisha and I tried to compose ourselves, but laughter broke through our clinched jaws.

“Aw, man,” Trisha said after she had stopped laughing. “Okay, next time.”

“Okay,” I giggled, looking up at her and Tommy.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with you guys,” Tommy said, shaking his head, his arm still resting on the car behind Trisha and me.

“We’ll do it next time,” Trisha said, turning to him and laughing. He rolled his eyes and smiled.

We whirled and slid back and forth on the slippery seat, barely held in place by the old, wobbly bar.

“Okay,” Trisha said, trying to set her face in an expressionless stare. A laugh broke through and she said okay again.

“Okay,” I said, too, mimicking her attempt to keep a blank face.

We were one more spin away from being face to face with the hollow lens of the camcorder again.

“Big serious,” Trisha half-shouted over the mechanical clanks and hums of the ride.

Again, we set our jaws in a stiff, laugh-less gaze only to break up in doubled-over laughter. Tommy couldn’t even keep a straight face this time. I heard my dad’s laugh over the whir of the ride as we spun away. We would have at least one more chance to try big serious. Surely we had gotten our laughs out and could pull it together for a few seconds the next time around.

We neared dad’s spot outside the unsturdy barricade. This time would be a failure. Trisha was already laughing as we approached the camera.

“Okay,” she said, her screeching laugh dying off about the time we were halfway around again. “We’ve gotta do it next time.” She wiped miniscule mascara flecks from underneath her eyes.

We prepared, determined to pull off our plan at least one time. I looked up at Tommy. His tight lips didn’t even quiver with the hint of a smile. Trisha gritted her teeth hard to keep from busting out.

“Ready, Kritter?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, letting a slight giggle escape.

“Here he comes,” Trisha said as I turned to the right and raised my chin over the side of the rattling car.

“Big serious,” she shouted. A smile started to surface, but I bugged my eyes and held it in as our car came seemingly inches from dad. After we retreated and were hurtled in the opposite direction, I looked at Trisha. She was laughing.

I laughed, too.

“Did you do it, Krit?” she asked.


“Woo-hoo,” she exclaimed. Tommy just shook his head again.

The ride slowed to a jerky stop and we hopped down, wondering how the video had turned out. We’d watch it the next time Trisha and Tommy came over and laugh at ourselves laughing for no reason at all.


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