“You know, Robin’s entire family was killed doing this,” I said to my wife as we watched her sister hook her legs onto the trapeze bar and arch her back as she swung upside down.
“You’re awful,” my wife remarked, albeit with a slight grin.
As writers, we’re often told, “Write what you know”. I would add to that a maxim I read somewhere, “The only way to know is by doing”. The more experiences we have, the more realistically we write, etc. (and the more connections we can make between experiences, somewhere we’ll find a fresh connection that becomes a story).
It was in this spirit that I agreed to go along on my sister-in-law’s birthday gift: a trapeze lesson! She’s a gymnast, and this sounded fun to her. My wife signed on right away. I was skeptical, but I said, what the hell, it might be fun, or I might injure myself spectacularly. Either way, life gets interesting.
As the day approached however, my hesitation grew, because I’m 42 years old and not in the best shape. I’ve had a couple surgeries, arthritis, some back issues, and a bulging belly. More and more, I thought, “This might end badly”. But of course, the only way to know, was …to do it.
So I went.
I wore the Batman shirt because it was one of the few clean ones I had, and in the back of my mind, flying through the air with a superhero logo seemed kinda cool.
In all honesty, the height didn’t bother me. We were maybe two stories off the ground. I painted houses in college, and I’m up on the ladder a few times every year for lights or gutter cleaning, so I was comfortable. Coupled with a net and redundant safety harness, the height was a non-issue.
The harness however, which is basically just a belt around your belly, was so tight that it shoved all my guts up into my ribcage. Not comfortable. I guess that’s what a girdle does. Hey-lookit me, I’m Hercules. Two days later, it still hurts to sneeze.
But that was minimal. What got me in the end was motion sickness (I puke on 1/3 flights, and forget about boats). And in trapeze work, there is a lot of motion, a lot of upside down, and for me, a lot of dizziness and nausea. After my third turn swinging, hooking, and arching upside down, I was ready to blow chunks. I threw in the towel before I threw up my lunch.
Right now, I can’t imagine how this experience may resurface in a bit of writing, but who knows? The most mundane thing may lay dormant for years before I link it with something else. And when it does, I will describe the vertigo in vivid, gut-grabbing detail.
Happy Birthday Brenna!
All kidding aside, my discomfort was solely my own. Everyone had a good time, and the TSNY coaches did a phenomenal job instructing us and keeping us safe. If you ever wanted to fly, check them out at http://boston.trapezeschool.com/