about the first time you remember being thrilled.
to say that it was on a Matterhorn type of ride at Tivoli when
I was three, but I more remember my drawing of that ride than
the ride itself. Still, the trip to Copenhagen yields the winner
with the clearest details. I had asked my father’s permission
to carry the Pentax camera (probably an MX) while I went to
the bathroom. Being three, I found it was tough to use the urinal
with a camera around my neck, so I set it down behind a pillar
while I urinated. A moment later I went back, but the camera
was gone. No one had turned it in, and we had a train to catch.
In psychosomatic terms, I felt the burning of blood rushing
to my face and ears, and my heart was racing. I probably had
a lot of endorphins rushing through me, given that I was terribly
emotional and suddenly weak (when I found out that, disappointed
as they were, my parents weren’t going to yell at me once
the initial shock subsided for them).
|What’s the slightest thing
to have thrilled you?
from someone I found attractive. It’s there and gone in
no time, but the effects on pulse are immense
|What’s the most frightening
yet thrilling thing you’ve done?
isolate a single event, but many fall into the driving-and-losing-control
category. In a recent instance, I was driving on a curved freeway
onramp during a light rain storm. In third gear and going about
30 MPH (maybe as much as 35), I started to lose control in the
(right) bend, with my rear wheels (it is a 5-speed front-wheel-drive
vehicle) fishtailing toward the low curb between my lane and
a merging onramp. I shifted down to second gear without using
the brakes, and then turned gently to the left while letting
the engine slow the car down. The car behind me was within 30
feet, quite possibly less, but I remember thinking that braking
would make me lose control and make him hit me, yet accelerating
would have kept me out of control. Turning too much was a risk,
too. I was miles away before I came down from that thrill. There
are other, better, examples, I am sure, but they are not coming
to mind right now.
why you’re not completely sensible.
English to college students. What right-minded (sensible) person
spends extra time and money on schooling to qualify for a job
that pays less than he could make in almost any other industry?
the most uninhibited thing you’ve ever done?
a car’s arrival, begun a sexual encounter in a somewhat
full parking lot. Outside of the car.
you considered doing for pleasure but were too concerned about
never really had that problem. I have backed away from climbing
because I realized that my skills were too poor and my backpack
was unbalancing me, but I had stopped enjoying that a few feet
the event in one sentence (there’s time to expand later)
a 15-year-old for stealing a pack of cigarettes.
a bit about yourself around this time.
|I was married
(first marriage) and working as a licensed store detective (limited
powers of arrest). I had recently finished my AA degree and
was finding that not many places wanted to hire me, so I had
taken whatever job I could get. I liked computer games (still
do) and split my time between playing those and spending time
with my wife (when not working, of course). My (now) ex-wife
was a fairly quiet person, so we took evening walks and watched
TV together, rather than engaging in thrill-seeking (sensation-seeking,
if you prefer).
sequence of events leading up to your thrill. Try to remember
how you felt at each stage. The smallest detail could be important
(this is your chance to expand).
a hot day for Seattle, easily in the mid-90s, and most of
the people who were coming into the grocery store where I
was working on Queen Anne Hill were wearing bicycle short
and t-shirts. The result was the not many people had places
to conceal stolen good, and it was turning out to be a boring
late afternoon shift. I had a few appropriate non-perishables
in my basket when I arrived near the front of the store. There
I saw a teenager walk in wearing a wool cap and a down jacket—completely
wrong for the weather.
I got into a position from which I could watch him, my heart
rate higher since right after I spotted him. At each stage,
I dutifully noted the time. He peered over the cordon at one
of the unused check stands, looking at the tobacco display.
Then, he moved to the adjacent unused check stand, reached
over, and plucked a pack of Camels from the display. He walked
behind me and put his hands in his pockets, pulling them out
as he passed to the other side on his way to the door. His
hands were empty then.
I followed him as he moved toward the door, picking up speed
a little and dropping off my basket on the way. A few people
were watching me, probably wondering what was happening as
I passed them. I felt a little giddy—light-headed from
the endorphin rush. As I headed out the door, I wondered whether
or not the kid was armed, and if he was, was it worth the
$6/hr I was getting to confront him. Still, I rushed around
to get in front of him on the sidewalk, placing my right hand
on his right shoulder as I identified myself. (That allows
me to push back if he tries turning left and lay him on his
back in he tries turning right. The other option would be
to return to the store.)
He looked at the sidewalk a few feet ahead of him and off
to his left, trying to explain that he had an appointment
down the street in five minute’s time. I told him that
he would be late for his appointment or miss it, and that
he could either walk back into the store with me or have me
walk him back in handcuffs (he did not know that I could not
legally handcuff a minor). After continued evasions, he relented
and turned back to the store. At that moment the rush left
me, and my knees almost gave out. He turned his head to say
something to me just before we walked through the doors, but
I forced myself to look as if I was in better control of my
gait than was actually the case and motioned for him to keep
While the rest was procedural crap—call for wants and
warrants, get information, prepare a police report, contact
family and/or police because minors cannot be released to
the street—he gave me a little troubled that got the
endorphins pumping again. He claimed to be blameless and demanded
to know what he had stolen. Normally, we would let the perps
confess, possibly showing more than we knew they had stolen,
but I had tracked him from entry to exit, so I was not worried.
I laid out the entire timeline, angrily and forcefully, but
that broke him. When his mother, who was not going to pick
him up until her husband got home, learned that the police
had arrived (they had been delayed due to a shift change),
she said to let the police deal with it. The tough kid started
bawling like a baby when they cuffed him. I am guessing he
had much the same endorphin rushes as I, though at different
times and for different reasons.
your thoughts and feelings at the precise moment of thrill?
fuck! What if he has a gun? A knife I can handle, but not a
you do afterwards?
finally carted the little brat away, I smiled, breathed deeply,
and did a little victory jig (with the store manager safely
out of the room).
you imagine other people thought of you during and after the
patrons before peak: “What the hell is doing running
through the store like that? The freak!”
Store patrons after peak: “Maybe I should put this
candy bar back or pay for it. He’d embarrass me.
Perp at my peak: “Oh shit. No. Why’d this bastard
have to get me?”
Store manager: “He got that kid? We’ve been after
him for a year.” (based on the manager’s comments
after the fact)
do you think about the event, and why?
three or four times per year. It comes up when I am lecturing
about personal experience essays. When I was an undergraduate,
I had to write a personal experience piece for a journalism
class, limiting myself to 10 modifiers, so I wrote about that
experience. Mine was the paper the professor read to the class.
probably don’t understand how such a thing can thrill
you; explain it to them.
is in the not knowing. I didn’t know whether or not he
was armed (later, in the same store, another person chased a
thief down and stopped him before the thief had gotten to his
weapon: a used needle crawling with hepatitis-B). I didn’t
know if he would fight, run, or surrender, but there aren’t
many other options. It’s the egotistical thrill of being
right and of winning. I never wanted to be a police officer,
even as a child. This was a chance to get paid (peanuts) to
test myself against the people who steal $20B annually in the
U.S. (possibly much more these days), driving up retail prices.
changes could have made the experience better, and why?
|1) He had
managed to steal more without my seeing and then fessed up.
2) He had started a fight. (OK, that’s scary to realize)
3) He had been armed. (Yet more frightening)
anything you want to add?