Roberta and I enjoyed some burgers and onion rings at Red Robin then walked a few yards over to Pier 57 to ride the new Ferris Wheel. I brought a book, figuring we’d be in line for a half hour at least, but surprisingly it took less than 15 minutes to buy our tickets and board one of 42 gondolas. We shared a gondola with a mother and her two daughters, aged eight and (I’m guessing) four. There was also a young man in his early 30s who appeared to be from India or Pakistan. The doors closed, and our gondola lifted from the ground. The ride is amazingly smooth. The gondola rocked easily, a little too easily. When you’re 200 feet above the dock and the doors are glass top to bottom giving the impression of nothing whatever being there to prevent you from falling if you lean too far, swaying can be a little unnerving. The mother asked the younger daughter to move still and not rock the gondola, and mentioned taking Dramamine. For the Ferris Wheel? I asked. No, we went sailing earlier in the day, she said. There’s nothing worse than sea sickness I said. Yes there is, said the eight year old. A broken arm is worse than sea sickness. You’re right, I said. It is. We went round a second time. The man from India (or Pakistan) was taking pictures with a little digital camera, moving it around the gondola as if it had a bottomless appetite for scenery and he was doing everything within his power to satiate its need. Cancer, the eight year old suddenly announced. Cancer is worse than a broken arm or broken leg. Either one. You can die from cancer. Yes, I said, you can. Cancer is pretty serious.
We got to go round five times altogether. We stayed at the very top a long time while they emptied the gondolas below. Don’t stand up, said the mother to the four year old. It’s against the law. I mean rule. Oh no. You’re going to be arrested when we get below said the older sister. The four year old held an imaginary cell phone to her head and phoned the chief of police. Don’t arrest me, she said, I’m sitting down.