Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Thrill Seeking

I had decided earlier this week that I would skydive at my next available opportunity.  Now when I say “my next opportunity”, I don’t mean to suggest that I mean the next time I am in an airplane that has engines failing and I dive out the hatch.  That really isn’t “skydiving” as much as it is “surviving”.  Plus, how often are you really on an airplane where they provide you with parachutes as you board the plane?  Perhaps if you climb on one of those DC-3s left over from Vietnam that ferry people and their chickens around on discount airlines in Central America.  Even then, do they provide parachutes?  That seems like something from a John Candy movie.  Does that even really happen?

I have two distinct thrill seeking goals in mind, one of which is skydiving.  I have done a small freefall in the past, which was pretty awesome.  Of course, it was only 20 stories and I was tied to a bungee chord.  I was also under the crushing influence of something a guy named “Electric Dave” had given me earlier in the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show which I feel very confidently heightened my senses.  Guys named “Electric Dave” don’t usually mess around. 

The bungee jump thing was a lark.  It was the early 90s when insurance companies hadn’t done their “due diligence” in figuring out that a small Brazilian operation with an enormous crane may not be qualified to allow people to swan dive from 200 feet towards a parking lot.  It seems crazy now even to think about it, yet I don’t think about 1993 as being a particularly permissive time in American society.  It seems as foreign to suggest something like that happened as it is to recall “smoking sections” on airplanes.

My friend Jeff, who had knocked back a six-pack of Samuel Smith and enough psychedelic mushrooms to kill a horse, took the first jump.  He screamed as he leaped off the platform like an eleven-year-old girl watching her pony being murdered.  When I saw him being unstrapped as I prepared to be hoisted up onto the crane platform I asked him, “Was it scary?”.  His knees were knocking together like he had hypothermia.  I took that to mean it was scary.

The weird thing about when you are that far up is how sound moves around in waves.  Underneath us Webb Wilder’s version of “Baby Please Don’t Go” was blasting and phasing in and out with the wind.  I will always remember that because I thought to myself “What an odd song for them to be playing from that enormous sound system at a Dead show.”.  Most of the giant crowd moving around obliviously far below had no idea I was facing a primal fear.  Yet, there were still enough people with heads craned upwards that to go back down would be the ultimate red letter of shame.  Yes, I was committed completely to diving off this 20-story platform.  There was no way I could allow the 78 strangers watching think I was too afraid to do something clearly outrageously dangerous.

Let’s talk about what it was like on that crane platform.  Twenty stories is a long ways up.  If you find yourself in an office building twenty stories up you think “what a nice view”.  The thought of leaping out the window doesn’t come to mind unless you had your 401K on Michigan in the NCAA title game, or maybe your best girl showed up at your house with some loser that appeared to be relaxing after taking her for a spin.  Even then, you’ll have second thoughts when push comes to shove.  It’s a long ways up man.  You can always turn it around.  There will be other girls.  There will be other sporting events.

Yet, there I am standing there on a little platform swaying in the wind.  I have these wacky ass boots on my legs that have giant rubber bands attached.  The guy that had just been speaking Portuguese to the strangely attractive exotic girl on the ground that took my money turns to me and says in a thick accent “jump”.  Um.  Excuse me?  Every cell of my body screams out “NO FUCKING WAY!”.  Still, I don’t want to be a “pussy”, so I slide out to the edge.  As it is clearly better to be dead than a “pussy”, I decided to go for it.  I opted to fall face first off the platform.  As I fell towards the ground everything slowed down.  Well, at first it did.  Then it got really, really fucking fast.  Imagine the fastest roller coaster you have ever been on, and now imagine if it fell off the tracks at the top of the first hill.  It’s pretty scary.     

When the bungee chord slowed me up and eventually stopped my downward fall, I could see every single blade of grass underneath me.  Each sharp edge of each blade of grass was in perfect focus.  This may have been due to the massive adrenalin rush I was having.  This may have been due to the help of “Electric Dave”.  It may have been a combination of the two.  I really can’t say.  But what I can tell you is that the blissful explosion of endorphins that washed over me put to shame any sexual experience I ever had.  Well, almost any…

I woke up this morning with an aching knee.  I have been picking up my distance on my daily run.  I worked through it today, but it wasn’t pleasant.  The fact is that I won’t always be physically able to jump out of a plane and see what it’s like.  If I don’t knock that experience out now, when will I?  Now’s the time.  If something goes wrong I will write out a document for all of my important possessions.  My massive record and CD collection.  My cars.  My Bordeaux.  The magical Key of Ghent.  But one thing I can’t give away is what it feels like to fall toward s the earth at a ridiculous height.  Now, has anyone seen Electric Dave? 


At April 12, 2013 at 9:24:00 AM EDT , Blogger Not the Kook said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At April 12, 2013 at 9:24:00 AM EDT , Blogger Not the Kook said...

Go Get After It!


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