Ken Hoffman & Astroworld

Houston humorist Ken Hoffman explains why Astroworld played a role on an important day in his life.

I’ll never forget AstroWorld for one thing. The theme park was critically (and I do mean critically) involved in one of the best/worst days of my life.
Eight years ago, I got a phone call. My son had been been born, and I should drive up to Fort Worth right away and pick him up at the Gladney adoption center.But it was a work day. I had a column to write. So I thought, what column can I knock out really fast … and get on my way to Fort Worth?

I know, AstroWorld is always bragging about its exciting, thrilling roller coasters, that it has more roller coasters than any theme park in America.

I called AstroWorld and asked, “How about if I ride all 10 of your roller coasters back-to-back, and then I’ll rate them from top to bottom?”

A roller-coaster ride seems like forever, but they’re really only one or two minutes. I’ll be home in an hour. I’ll write the column and be heading north on Interstate 45 in no time.

I am not a roller-coaster guy. When I’m on a roller coaster, I usually close my eyes and pray it will be over soon. This is my approach to most things in life, by the way.

I rode the first roller coaster, Texas Cyclone. According to roller-coaster expert Robert Cartmell, the Texas Cyclone is the scariest coaster in America, with a “devastating 53-degree first drop of 92 feet.”

Then I rode the Viper, which does loop-de-loops at 50 mph. Then Greezed Lightnin’, which goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. Then XLR-8, which dangles riders in thin air.

Then I got really sick.

I don’t mean a headache or a mild upset stomach. I mean my whole body was spinning, and I thought I was going to make Mount St. Helens look like a squirt gun.

I don’t remember ever being that sick, that nauseous, that queasy in my life. I was burning hot and shivering at the same time. We’ve all been there, right?

So I quit the coasters, called in sick (really, really sick) and drove to Fort Worth, like the Beatles sang, “all the way the paper bag was on my knee.”

I was nauseous the whole time.

A year later, I tried to ride all the roller coasters again at AstroWorld � and got sick again.

Here’s the part that still makes me laugh, though.

When I look at photos of me holding my baby for the first time, I look like I’m about to faint.

I was, but not for the reason people think.

If you have a login to Houston Chronicle, check out Ken Hoffman’s columns. They are wacky and totally obsessed with strange things: Beatles memorabilia, fast food hamburgers, crazy snacks.