Several months ago my sister bumped into an old friend from High School days. They hadn’t seen each other in over 35 years. They talked for a bit and then my sister’s friend, Karen, shared with her the story of a “really” bad hair day that she experienced almost forty years ago when they were both in high school. It seems that she was on a date to the county fair one fall night. The young man she was out with insisted that they enjoy some of the carnival rides that were on the grounds. Karen related that she explained to her date that she would get sick and preferred not to go on any of the rides. Undaunted by her initial rejection of the ideal, her date pressed her over and over to go on the rides. After all, he said, “What are we doing here if we can’t have fun going on the roller coaster and other amusement rides!” Feeling under intense pressure she told how she relented and decided to go on the rides. All seemed well after the first ride but her date, ever the enthusiast, drug her to a popular ride called the “Teacups”. It was there that disaster struck. Midway through the ride she started to become sick and it wasn’t long before she vomited all over herself and everyone on the ride.
The reason that Karen was relating this story to my sister was because I was her date that evening. I vividly remember the incident. As I sat across from her that night in the Teacup, I was having the time of my life. If you are familiar with the “Teacup” ride, there is a wheel in the middle of the cup and if you grab a hold of the wheel and spin it, you can really fly. Well, as I said, I was having a great time. Karen had long brown hair that went to the small of her back. Her long locks were flying in the wind as I had that Teacup on the verge of taking off from the platform. Then, midway through the ride I glanced at her face, which was now white and in mid vomitus form. In desperation I yelled at the ride operator to stop the ride as our cup would fly by him. But my requests were either unheard or ignored, as the operator stood by the ride, holding onto the lever without flinching. In desperation and knowing what was about to happen, I did what any sensible young man would do, I ducked down into the bottom of the teacup for protection. I did so in the nick of time as my date proceeded to “lose her lunch” on a level that would rival a scene out of the then popular horror movie “The Exorcist”!
I can’t describe to you the “carnage” that ensued as all of those riding in the other cups were showered with the vile chunky liquid. Fortunately for me, when the ride finally came to a stop I found that I had come out of the experience unscathed! I remember thinking how lucky I was. Well, Karen immediately bolted off the ride and into the crowd. I was left with the “dirty” work of stammering an apology to the other stunned riders who were still sitting in their cups picking chunks of Karen’s lunch out of their hair and clothes.
I won’t bore you with the complete details of the night but I stopped at a local gas station while bringing her home. Karen went into the bathroom and soaked her long brown hair with water in hopes of cleaning it and getting the foul smell out of it. But I can testify to you that even to this day the smell of her long brown hair haunts my nights. Needless to say, the night was most memorable and as it turned out, a very bad hair night for my date.
Sadly, here it was some forty years later, and Karen was repeating the story of this infamous night to my sister. It was that horrific of an experience for her that she has never forgotten it. As my sister repeated it to me I couldn’t help but reflect back on how insensitive I was. As a young man I told this story over and over and laughed. (Often I still do!) But over time I saw how terrible it was of me to pressure someone into doing something they didn’t want to do. I hadn’t respected her wishes and was only concerned about having fun. I was young at the time but old enough to have known better.
Peer pressure can make people do things and say things that they normally wouldn’t. Let’s be wise enough to ignore the taunts of others when they want us to go on the “amusements rides” of life that ultimately will make us spiritually “sick”. And, more importantly, let us not be the one found guilty of putting “pressure” on others to do things not in accordance with the gospel principles. Let us not be found in the memories of others as the cause of their “very bad hair day”.