Thursday, April 30, 2009


After yesterday's rather depressing piece, I feel obligated to let everyone (both of you) know that things haven't always been this bad. In fact one day my Dad and I caught 27 fish. Here's the photo to prove it. I usually became impatient rather quickly on these fishing trips, but as I recall we hardly had time to eat our customary Bit-O-Honey.

I thought I would share a rather humorous anecdote that ended in a freefall (not to be confused with a free-for-all).

My baby sister (two years my junior) was always the risk-taker amongst the four of us (as demonstrated in the baton twirler photo). I was the oldest and had two brothers younger than the two of us.

As we grew old(er), had families and careers she continued to confess a desire to skydive. As in jump out of a plane from a very high altitude, falling at a high rate of speed, planning on a large piece of fabric to break your fall enough to survive, thus experiencing extremely high doses of natural adrenaline. I was all for the high without the plane and such.

For her birthday one year I (who then lived in Memphis) went online and purchased her a skydive package at Perris Valley, California (She lived in San Diego).

I flew out a few months later on a casual visit and she squealed, "This is so great! We can skydive together." I was caught in the manhood dilemma (an instance where you know you are about to do something fundamentally stupid to avoid the sissy word).

So we drove to the desert, took a five minute introductory class, watched a 30 minute video of their lawyer telling us the papers we were signing meant if we so much as slipped on a banana peel in the parking lot they could not be sued, and then got on the plane.

It was a twin engine plane carrying about ten other jumpers and a pilot with a bucket of KFC between his legs (could I sue if the pilot choked on a drumstick.....NO). My sister and I were jumping last because as novices we were tethered to other (non-sissy) professional jumpers.

It took several looong minutes to climb to the required 14,500 feet. We then leveled off as one jumper after another leaped enthusiastically out the open door. My sister was woo-hooing.....I was near sensory overload. As my new best friend (strapped to my back) and I made our way toward the door I reached a point where I could see the jumpers as they fell away from the plane. Let me take a moment to alert any of you who have watched films of skydiving and thought, "Boy that looks like fun!" BE ADVISED: All those films are in slow-motion! You do not float gently away from the plane. You fall like a freakin' rock! I mean fast. Ahem... I digress.

My sister, and her new best friend, position themselves, rock three times, and leap. I hear the scream I've known since she was two for about a millisecond and she is gone. Out of sight! We get into position, then my BFF pulls us back in and announces, "We missed the drop zone, we'll have to go around." I have just spent 1 1/2 hours driving to the desert, 45 minutes of earthbound build up, fifteen minutes of ear popping ascension to walk to the door of my manhood and was told WE HAVE TO GO AROUND AGAIN!

The next three minutes went by very slowly. We again neared the door, I forgot to count to three (sensory overload thingy), and we were out.

It seemed like 30 seconds before I could breathe and I was not prepared for the noise wind rushing by at 125 mph makes. I did maintain consciousness and just about the time I thought I had a handle on falling like a rock the chute went up and the deafening roar changed to silence.

One minute later.... we landed! Manhood intact!


  1. Very Cool! I had a chance to go to airborne school when I was in the Army. But along with being terrified, I declined because of something better: I was a mom of two babies!

  2. Anne-
    Army huh. My son leaves for Camp Shelby, MS in the morning and then Iraq a few weeks later. Hooah!

  3. Bob, that was awesome... hilarious... thanks for that! I am ALWAYS of the opinion that when I step onto an airplane, the only option for voluntary removal is steppign off when it has landed and there is a tunnel leading me back into another airport. No jumping out of a perfectly good flying machine!!!!


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