This is the second in a series of posts suggested by readers in the second Kapgar Lyrical Challenge. Today's title suggested by Odie, whose blog, well, is non-existent. We must work on that one.
What is the stupidest ballsy thing you've ever done? For me, it was the time I went bungee jumping.
I am petrified of heights. Always have been, and I doubt I'll ever get over it. My stomach churns as I approach seemingly unprotected heights. The top of the Sears Tower, despite being enclosed in glass... churn. The edge of a bridge... churn. The Grand Canyon... CHURN! It's never pretty. Heck, I get queasy when someone else gets too close to the edge of a rather daunting precipice.
I can only pray my kids will be as fearful of heights as I am so I don't have to worry about them becoming adrenaline junkies.
So why did I bungee jump? Call it sheer jealousy.
Back in the summer of '94, my entire family went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for my grandparents' 50th anniversary. Being the big deal it was, all family members converged on what we deemed to be the most central point between us in Illinois, my aunt and uncle in Kentucky, and my grandparents in central Florida. So Gatlinburg it was.
For anyone who has ever been there, you know that it's pretty much just another in a long line of what would otherwise be nothing towns if it weren't for the tourist trade. Being the proverbial "tourist trap," there was an odd mix of things to do. Outdoorsy stuff like whitewater rafting and hiking, touristy stuff like Dollywood, and, of course, daredevil central.
Daredevil central, as only I call it, consisted of the suicide rides such as a sky swing, lunar jump, and bungee jumping. They are suicidal in my mind because they are not permanently installed and you clearly take your life into your hands if you're stupid enough to ride them.
In other words, I was going nowhere near them.
My brother, being the little psycho that he is, was more than happy to try the bungee jump. He was gung-ho as he raced up to it and was fitted with his parachute harness, ecstatic as he raced up the stairs. The excitement waned a bit as he first looked off the ledge. In fact, it took quite a bit of coaxing to make him finally jump. But he did. And he loved it.
I felt a minor pang of jealousy watching him leap off the edge only to be yanked back up by the elastic cabling. Not enough to make me actually want to do it, but it was there.
Later that day, my uncle decided to ride the sky swing. This was basically an apparatus in which two riders lay stomach down and are pulled backwards up in the air about 50 or so feet and then released. The duo will then swing back and forth like a giant pendulum. As you approach the peak of the forward swing, you supposedly experience the closest thing to weightlessness you can feel on Earth outside of NASA training.
Since the ride required a tandem, my brother was going to ride with him. Until, that is, my aunt decided she wanted to go. My brother was left in a lurch. That's when, much to everyone's surprise, I stepped up. I really think my parents and brother experienced temporary shock.
But I agreed to it and my brother was now depending on me to get his jollies off... in an airborne sense of it all. So we were strapped in, winched up, and let go. And I loved every second of it. The rush of adrenaline was like nothing I'd ever experienced before.
And I wanted more.
So I looked at my parents and told them I wanted to bungee jump.
They were a bit freaked by my declaration of intent and my brother had the biggest grin of joy on his face.
The next day, we returned to the bungee platform where I was fitted with my harness. I then ascended the staircase and was hooked up to the cables. I looked over the edge at my entire family looking back at me and, on the count of three, jumped. No hesitation whatsoever. I figured I was up there and the only real way to get down was the quick way. So I did it. And, again, I loved it.
Luckily for my recently acquired adrenaline kick, they were offering a two-for-one special. I went up for my second jump. Something felt a bit off this time. I could tell that the clamps were hanging a bit lower as they strapped me in, but I wasn't going to back down now.
And I jumped a second time.
But I should've listened to my gut on that clamp observation. I dropped just a bit further than I should have and my foot actually hit the air mattress on the first dip. I sprang back up and the rest of the jump went fine, but the knowledge that my foot hit what it shouldn't have and the thought that if I had been strapped in using an ankle harness instead of a parachute harness, I might have wound up with a broken neck was enough to kill my thrill seeking for the moment.
Of course, there's still a huge desire on my part to try parachuting. But that may have to wait until my 40th birthday.
Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Ah, smart little poor kids. Gotta love the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program.