Monday, August 09, 2010

Helmets and go-carts

I looked for, but could not find, a term for the condition of feeling claustrophobic in a motorcycle helmet. There should be a word for it because when you google "helmet" and "claustrophobia" the results you get show you that your 10-year-old boy is not crazy.

We received a pack of coupons in the mail last week and a big ad stood out for a "Fun for the Whole Family!" go-cart place out west of the Twin Cities. We decided to give it a try. $20 for two adults and two children to get 8 minutes each in go-carts. Hank was all about it. He may not like roller-coasters and things high in the air but he likes to go fast and these go-carts were fast but more importantly, very low-to-the-ground. Hope, as usual, was fine with whatever plans were being made.

We got there early and a party was wrapping up so we sat and watched. We all agreed it looked like fun. They had go-carts for kids ages 5 and up. So we're sitting there getting all excited.

And then it was time to put on the helmets.

Heavy breathing. "Mom, I can't breathe." "Here, let's loosen this chin strap and try again." "Mom, I can't breathe." He's wheezing now. Hope and Gary are standing there staring at him while he does an exaggerated Darth Vader breath. Eyes are rolling. (Theirs. Not Hank's.) I suggested we try a bigger helmet. "Okay, Mom." Bigger helmet went on easier. I buckled the chin strap. Heavy Darth Vader breathing. "MOM. I CAN'T BREATHE!"

Long story short he COULD breathe. He WAS in fact breathing but he was scared to death with that big, padded cage wrapped around his head.

He was content to sit and watch us. Gary was thrilled to get an extra 8 minutes as a result of Hank's claustrophobia. I took my 8 minutes and decided it was the LONGEST 8 minutes of my life with all the testosterone-fueled 20 something guys flying past me and me with something that looked like a gallon milk jug of gasoline right between my legs. Gary passed me three times in the 1.5 mile course. Hank and Hope were yelling at me at the end, "WHY DIDN'T YOU GO FASTER, MOM? YOU WERE THE SLOWEST ONE OUT THERE."

Oh, shut up. It was scary.

And Hope? Well, she was gung-ho to do it until we all realized that maybe a 7-year-old needs to learn how to drive a go-cart the first time by someone older than 12 who wasn't chewing on a Subway sandwich during the instruction-giving. It was kinda hard to understand what he was saying. Gas on the right, brake on the left. "HOPE. WHICH ONE IS THE LEFT? WILL YOU GO FAST OR STOP IF YOU STEP ON THE RIGHT? ARE YOU READY TO RACE WITH THESE 17 TO 22-YEAR-OLD BOYS?" I looked at Hope, all suited up with hands gripping the steering wheel, and her eyes were kinda watery-looking. "Hope, you don't have to drive if you don't want to." "I don't want to drive, Mama!"

So Gary got three runs instead of one.

Damned if he wasn't a pretty good go-cart racer!


  1. Love your description of the 12-yr-old instructor. I totally understand Hank's phobia. I sometimes feel that way in a hood and scarf. Also, I think Hope made a good choice. Will you all ever go-cart again?

  2. My Mom and I were just wondering how the go carting went for the Hanson family. I thank you for the good laugh at a time when I need a good laugh :-). Going to share it with Rowie.