Last summer marked the first time I ever drove a bumper car.

With their loud motors, sparking electrical poles and sketchy fan base, bumper cars always have struck me as sort of edgy and outside my comfort zone.

There was something about the sights and sounds that signaled danger, and I wanted no part of the blasting music and whiplash-inducing collisions, let alone the awkward confrontations that surely must erupt with complete strangers.

It all struck me as so…uncivilized.

That changed last August when my husband and I took our daughter to Funtown. I knew sooner or later we would cross paths with the dreaded bumper car attraction, and it did not take long to find it. Six-year-old Elizabeth dragged Tim by the hand toward the cars, and I trailed along behind, weighing the pros and cons in my mind.

Hopes that there might be a height chart prohibiting us from entering were dashed when I spied a sign that said our child could accompany any person over age 18. Harumph. Well, that person would be my husband, I decided silently, because I certainly had no plans to join in with these hooligans.

As if on cue, two oversized men in tank tops slammed their bumper cars into one another right in front of us. It was a head-on collision that jostled the children seated beside them. They all were laughing heartily.

Wow, that’s mature, I told myself. Then I recalled something I had seen online. It was one of those funny eCards that said people who don’t know how to have fun refer to fun people as “immature.” Wait, was that me?

“Do you want me to take her?” my husband asked, jabbing a thumb toward the ride. Clearly he expected me to watch from the sidelines. I snorted.

“What do you think I am? Commissioner of the NFL?” I asked. He looked confused, so I added, “The No-Fun League?” Now he really looked confused. And a bit worried. After all, we had been walking in the blazing hot sun all afternoon.

“Let’s go,” I said brightly, leading the way. Bring on the bumper cars.

As we waited in line, there were about half a dozen people ahead of us. I stood on the rusting metal ramp trying not to touch anything as I ran through the list of worst-case scenarios that could result from our bumper-car experience. Somewhere between “Lizzie Gets Whiplash” and “Injured Teen Sues My Overzealous Husband For Fiery Crash,” I watched two teenage boys stroll casually up to the bumper-car line and step right in front of my husband and me.

“Um, did those two kids just cut right in front of us?” I asked, loudly enough for them to hear.

Tim shot me a look.

“It’s no big deal,” he said. “Take it easy, killer.”

Elizabeth was watching now.

“Well, I just don’t think it’s right for people to cut in line,” I said casually, trying not to sound like a card-carrying member of the NFL.

“Here we go,” my husband said. “Don’t go into teacher mode.”

He was right, of course. Ever since taking a teaching and school librarian job, I do feel I am on duty all the time, sort of like a superhero. Anywhere there are children being unsafe or making poor decisions, I am compelled to set them straight. (Provided their parents are not nearby, of course.)

But I wasn’t listening to my husband. Oh no. Instead, my eyes were burning a hole into the back of those two teen boys’ heads. Finally, as if he felt it, one of them glanced back over his shoulder at me.

“Oh, gosh, you know what? I think we stepped in front of these people,” he said, feigning innocence. “Let’s go get in line. Uh, sorry about that.”

“Awww, no problem,” I said, smiling broadly as they took the walk of shame to the back of the line.

Tim shook his head sadly. Elizabeth beamed, clearly recognizing my superpowers. Good had triumphed over evil. I had set those wayward youths onto the right path in life. This was monumental. Score one for the NFL commissioner.

At that moment, the line started to move. As we entered the darkened cement arena, Tim and Lizzie headed off to a shiny, blue bumper car, leaving me next to a dinged-up red model. I climbed in, fastened my seatbelt, and quickly said a silent prayer.

“Please God, don’t let my family or me get hurt in these idiotic bumper cars,” I prayed. “This would be a really stupid way to die. Amen.”

In a flash, the overhead power supply was turned on and the cars jumped to life. Everyone started zooming every which way and slamming into one another. That is, everyone but me. I was turning my steering wheel back and forth, but my car wasn’t moving. What the heck? I looked up at the tall pole that attached to the roof, normally sending sparks cascading everywhere. Nothing. No sparks. Was my car defective? Then I noticed the sound of revving engines. I felt the floor for a pedal and located it with my flip-flop. Pressing down, I sent power to the motor and my car sprang into action.

“Ha haaaaa!” With a maniacal laugh, I zoomed toward Tim and Lizzie. But after advancing just a few feet, I felt a massive jolt as a car slammed into the thick rubber bumper surrounding my car. How rude! Needless to say, it stopped me in my tracks. Turning the steering wheel, I gunned the pedal and shot forward, again headed toward the blue car containing my family unit. I could see they were laughing and trying to get out of a traffic jam of their own.

Again, there was a massive hit, this time directly behind me. Who would do such a thing? I was outraged. How dare they?! I looked over my shoulder to see one of the teens who had cut us in line. He was laughing and appeared to be looking just beyond me. So I followed his gaze to see his partner in crime on the other side of my car. The pair took turns ramming into me with their cars, circling around, picking up speed, and then crashing into my bumper car again and again.

“Hey!” I yelled. “Knock it off!”

They laughed and did exactly as they pleased. It is times like that when a superhero needs a sidekick.

Gripping the wheel, I floored it and zoomed between the pair, causing them to crash into each other, but in doing so, I slammed right into a grandpa and his sweet little granddaughter. The teens just laughed harder.

“Sorry!” I shouted to the grandpa. He didn’t seem to hear me. Or care, for that matter. Apparently all is fair in love and bumper cars.

I waved to my daughter, but she did not see me. Her dad steered their car in the opposite direction. I tried to catch up to them, but it was no use. Then the operator cut the electricity and the ride was over anyway.

“Well, that was depressing,” I said, as we walked down the exit ramp.

“Not for those kids,” my husband chuckled. “I’d say they got the last laugh.”

And the beat goes on.

Kris Ferrazza is a former reporter, assistant editor, copy editor and columnist with the Courier newspapers. She lives in Waldoboro.