Sunday, August 08, 2010


We finally made good on the plan to take a trapeze class, which was a life list goal.

When we got there, they ran us through the plan--you climb up to the platform, lean out, grab the bar, and jump off. In the air, you take advantage of the tops of your swings to hook your knees over the bar, take them off, and backflip off down to the net. Nothing to it.

About halfway up the ladder, I realized that there was something significantly wrong. I made it to the platform, got myself all hooked in, turned to face the bar, and sure enough, something was wrong. I was a zillion feet in the air and about to lean out into space and then swing from a goddamn trapeze. This was all against the laws of physics and good common sense.

The instructor could tell that I was panicking. (It was probably the sweating and trembling and refusing to move that tipped him off, not to mention the mewling in despair and begging to be let down.) Another instructor climbed up, and between them they tried to coax me into grabbing the bar with just one hand. I could almost do that, but letting go with the other was beyond me. I have never been so scared in my life.

I eventually hopped off the platform and swung in the air a few times, and I would be lying if I told you that there was a rush of exhilaration then that made all of the rigmarole on the platform worth it. But I wasn't about to be defeated by space and physics and abject terror, so after a while I made my way back up the ladder. At the top I promised to leave the ladder in under 10 minutes this time around, and he said, "Well, at least you're up here, instead of at home on the couch, dying slowly." Sure, I thought, better to fall off the circus contraptions and break my neck and die all at once.

Although I never did get my legs up and over the bar--I don't actually have any muscles anywhere, so I lack the strength required to move even my weightless body--I did manage, by the fifth try, to backflip off the trapeze.

On the way out, the instructor congratulated me on doing a good job. I laughed at that, because he had after all been up there with me. But he hugged me and said, "Hey, you got back up there. Most people don't." Still, if I run away to join the circus, I think I'll stick with lion taming.

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