Bye mom, going skydiving
I’ll be back later tonight. Sometime. Don’t wait up.
This is part two of a three part post.
If you’re just showing up now, go here first.
Come on back. This is a bit of a trip.
It’s like the old joke: Why can’t the millionaire go to New York?1
Bye Mom, going skydiving, I’ll be back later. Don’t wait up.
I think those were the last words I uttered giddily before trotting gaily down the driveway for my drive to the Debert airfield in Dick’s old Tercel.
I did not look back. Nope. No cruelty there. I’m certain my mom was fine. Let’s talk about cars.
Dick’s car was a kind of pale, baby shit brown creation. Parents would recognize the colour from post banana and Arroroot biscuit diaper changes. It was a very ugly car
It was a very ugly car with no starter.
In order to leave, we had to get it started. We pushed it down the street, popped the clutch and it jumped to life. I am more than certain that my dear mother found our resourcefulness and knowledge to be a source of reassurance and comfort.
As we sped away, the four of us laughed and chortled while four moms added grey hairs so quickly you’d think you were watching a multi year time lapse played on fast forward.
That’s right mom, I’m going to the Debert airfield in this brown shit box that won’t start. Kiss your baby boy goodbye beeaaattttchhhh!
We were all eighteen.
We were free to do as we chose.
We chose to risk a very short adulthood.
We slid in a tape by the Who - likely copied from one of our parents’ records.
The Who sang: Hope I die before I get old
And away we went.
Upon arrival we were told to wait.
Roger would be there soon.
Roger was our instructor.
Moments later, Roger made his grand appearance.
We heard him long before we could see him. The sound started as a low rumble slowly building to low, deep, thuckathuckathuckathucka.
A cloud of blue smoke appeared on the horizon that synched with the sound. Then he appeared. Roger McKinnon appeared wearing a leather vest, blue jeans, aviator glasses and a moustache that said You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet baby.
Good afternoon ladies, he chortled, dismounting his Harley.
That’s when I had my first doubts.
Oh poo, I thought, I’m trusting my life to this man who can’t discern that we are all clearly male and that it is exactly eight in the morning. He can’t see nor tell time. This is the man who will help me jump out of a plane.
I wondered what my mom was up to.
In retrospect, it made sense that Roger didn’t have all of his cylinders firing. In order to become a skydive instructor, you had to complete multiple sky dives. Many multiple sky dives. The completion of many multiple sky dives seemed congruent with a damaged brain - or at least some sort of invisible cognitive impairment.
Though I searched, I could not see any traces of model air plane glue or any other solvents on his clothes. My guts said no, but mechanically, I shuffled along with the same squeaked ‘Yes’ of my recent riding lesson.
The training took all day. It was more like a dance class than we had first imagined. We counted aloud as we moved: Arch2 thousand, two thousand three thousand, four thousand, five thousand, check3 thousand.
The next part was more of a marshal arts drill.
And in the interest of the brevity thing?
You’ll get that part tomorrow.
All of this is going to come back to the original title of ‘say no first’.
My mother would have liked it if I had said ‘no’ to skydiving.
And I did. I just said no one less time than I said yes.
But we’ll get there soon enough.4
A bit of a trip?
This is why I’m spreading things out.
Check back tomorrow when you’ll imagine this fool scream:
She’s already there. I’m not starting at the end. Though I kinda did. Anyway, this is installment number 2. I guess that’s the middle? Or is it the destination? On an out and back or a loop, the midpoint might just be the end before returning home.
Where are we right now? Where are we ever?
Either way, these posts are a journey. Enjoy the ride.
‘Arch’ was never meant to be a number. It was the first move in the ‘give you something to think about while your chute opens choreography we were learning. Eventually though, with a few of us, those who chose to plane fling, as we called it, the word ‘arch’ became synonymous with the number one.
And you guessed it, ‘check’ became the number six. No longer were we cursed to ask someone to get us a six pack for the end of the road party. Mike, who had the fake id, would get us a ‘check’ pack. We also delighted in a bit more stupidity. One would say Check? The response from another would be: Check? Then together we would both say Check, then we’d blurt out the words THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST using Iron Maiden Scary Voice, then laughing hysterically at our wonderfully stupid joke. (check check check, the number of the beast) When we went to gigs in bars when the sound guy would say ‘check’ repeatedly into the mic, we’d also sometimes shout “NUMBER OF THE BEAST!” there too. Though, that usually only happened if we spent the afternoon playing Risk and drinking War Wine.
I guess, in a sense, I’m saying ‘no’ to you right now by not finishing the story for y’all right now. Excuse me while I go weep a little in a corner.