Monday, January 26, 2009

Followup to 25 Random Things

To answer Gayla's questions about my 25 Random Things:

The turnstile story:

When I was 29, I vacationed in Europe accompanied by my 17 year old sister. We spent several days in Paris surviving on my college French. On the first afternoon we purchased metro passes at a post office and wanted to use them right away to see more of the city. We stopped first however at a cafe and then tried out one of those public rest room contraptions that are like upscale Johnny Blue's requiring payment to enter. The unisex restrooms with guys standing right there at the urinals as you walk in were freaking me out too much. By the time we hit the subway station it was rush hour.

Having never been through the process before (really, I'd never been on a subway anywhere before much less internationally), I tried to watch those in line before us. It appeared that I was to stick my tiny metro pass into a slot and then enter the turnstile. So when it was my turn, that's what I did. The turnstile made 1/4 of a revolution and stopped. I could go neither forward nor backward. It wasn't one that hits you at the hips so I couldn't jump over. I was practically caged. Everyone behind me was yelling and shoving but there was nothing I could do. Unfortunately my teen sister made it through and was already on the platform waiting for me as our train arrived. I could see her panic as she knew NO French and would have no clue how to ask for help. I was absolutely shocked that no one would help me. They simply moved over to other lanes and went about their day. As is usually the case with me when I get in nervous situations, I broke out into the giggles which surely gave the appearance of lunacy and didn't help my cause.

Finally after the largest portion of rush hour had passed me by, a nice young gentleman approached and offered assistance. Apparently, after you put your pass in the slot, you had to pull it out of a second slot BEFORE entering the turnstile. At least that's what I think I did wrong though it is possible it was just a malfunctioning machine. At any rate, I was able to use the metro for the rest of our journey without drama.

The naked skydiving story:

I had been asked to take a member of the band Diamond Rio skydiving during one of their tour stops (hosting Diamond Rio for a day is another story altogether). I drove him to the closest drop zone but it was too cloudy and no one got a jump off. But sitting in the hangar all day gave me the itch to try it myself. I returned the next day with a girl friend and we each did a tandem jump where your instructor is attached to your back to make sure you don't screw up. Absolutely amazing breathtaking fun.

Unfortunately I left my camera there and had to return the following day to retrieve it. This is my third day at this airport. My instructor from the day before asked if I was back to jump again but it was too expensive for me to repeat. He offered that there was a way to go for free.... go naked. Ironically enough, the day before I had been wearing a Mystic Tea tshirt. Remember their old slogan? Yeah, it was "Go Naked" and my instructor badgered me about wearing that shirt, talking the talk but not walking the walk.

It was the summer after I turned 30. I was divorced, no kids, single and prepared for a midlife crisis. I didn't know any of these people and didn't plan to see them ever again. So I asked myself: why not? Who gets to do something like this on their life list? It was very out of character for me. I don't even like to walk around the ladies' locker room at the gym naked. It struck me that that was exactly why I needed to do it: to get over my hang-ups and live a little.

Now typically the instructor straps you into your harness in the hangar before you walk out to board the plane. In this case, Paul (forever I will remember his name) and I went into a utility closet. He was extremely professional but boy was he sweating. Then I put on a big shirt and pulled up my shorts as far as they would go but I looked like a hunchback. It was pretty obvious to the 50 or so people there what was about to happen when we walked out. They broke into cheers and grabbed their cameras.

We boarded the plane with two solo male jumpers and the male pilot. When we reached altitude, the pilot said it was time to jump. I took off my clothes and Paul stuffed them down his jumpsuit. Surprisingly the other two men avoided looking in my direction though I caught the pilot glancing back a few times. Then it was our turn to jump. No it didn't hurt. No it wasn't cold. No the straps didn't slide around as they were super tight to begin with. I was amazed at the cascading ripples of skin on my thighs caused by the sheer force of the wind. Skydiving naked might sound sexy in concept but let me tell you, the human body in free fall is simply not attractive. Things are not where they are supposed to be.

As we got closer to the ground, I could see people running out of the hangar and, I assumed, armed with their cameras. Paul threatened to land me right at the entrance and I countered with a threat to permanently maim him. We ended up landing far off in a pea field where I had plenty of time to dress before the spectators approached. The photos do exist but they are mostly of me hugging my knees in a tight ball waiting for Paul to get my clothes out of his jumpsuit and from an acceptable distance to blur important parts of the body.

There is a term used by skydiving enthusiasts for any person that doesn't understand their sport: whuffo. It represents the question they are constantly asked: "whuffo" you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane? I've discovered after my two jumps that I grow more when I stop questioning why and ask why not instead. If you ever get the opportunity to skydive, go for it. Should you also have the opportunity to do it sans clothing... why not? Live a little.

1 comment:

Simply, Sarah said...

You are an inspiration. I will not be going naked skydiving anytime soon, but your fun outlook is inspiring.