So I have been dating Mavrick. And it’s going really well (Aside from the occasional my going bat shit crazy). Last Tuesday we went to get his first tattoo. We live-Twittered it, uploading photos and whatnot, and he really enjoyed both. Said he would like to think of something else we can live-Tweet. On Thursday, he hit me with his great idea. Skydiving. Was I in?
Coupla things. Mavrick didn’t Twitter before he met me. Also, Mavrick did not have a tattoo before he met me. One could deduce that mindbling is a bad influence, OR, one can deduce that mindbling brings out a new side of people. A tweeting, tattoo-getting dark side, hitherto unseen. Because now this seemingly mild-mannered man was asking me to step off of an airplane with him.
When he asked if I wanted to skydive, I said yes. I fancy myself as someone that specializes in risk-taking behaviors, and, more importantly, I thought that you couldn’t do it in the fall. I had no real reason to think this. It’s just that, to me, flinging oneself out of a plane seemed like a summer sport. So I said yes with every confidence that he would forget about it in a few months. Or have broken up with me.
You can imagine my shock when he text messaged me over the weekend. Take a vacation day Wednesday, we are going skydiving. Holy Mary mother of French toast. Now, in a testament to how much I like him, have a death wish, or my utter stupidity, I agreed to go. I was already sick about it.
I email my boss. I request the day off. I tell him it’s to go skydiving. I apologize for the short notice. Had he read between the lines, he would have seen that what I was really saying was, ‘Please say no. You’re my only out without losing face. You can’t argue with ‘the boss said no’. Say no.’ He said yes.
All the while, Mavrick is gleefully filling me in on the details. It’s a tandem jump, meaning you’re strapped to your instructor. We jump from roughly 12,000 feet. We freefall for 6,000 feet, which is just over one mile. We are traveling 120 mph, so this takes about 35 seconds. We then deploy our chutes and drift peacefully to the ground, a four-minute trip, land with a spring in our step, high-five, and Twitter that shit.
That is what he said. This is what I heard: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING OH MY GOD YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. You are going to jump out of that plane, puke, pee yourself, and then plummet to the ground and die, IN A HELMET. No one looks good in a helmet.
What I said to him was, Cool! I can’t wait! Lie. Lie. Lie. Oh, I can wait. I can wait till I die NATURALLY of old age, in the nursing home, getting a sponge bath from my favorite Puerto Rican orderly, then you can strap my dead body in a parachute and toss me out the back of a plane. OH, I CAN WAIT.
But my inner bad ass would not let me punk out. And I want to do this with him, I really do. So I decide to educate myself. People. When you are about to go skydiving, and you are already shit-your-pants scared about it, don’t look up skydiving fatalities. Really. Trust me on this.
I started there, and it turns out there are roughly 35 skydiving-related deaths a year. Considering there are 2.5 million jumps, that evens out to be about 1 death in every 71,000 jumps. Out of those 35 deaths, 92% are experienced jumpers. It’s very rare a student dies. Okay. I kinda like those odds.
I read about the technology, safety equipment, how to survive a fall (answer, you don’t), and how reserve chutes, whether they have been deployed or not, have to be repacked by an FAA certified reserve packer every 120 days. Most deaths aren’t caused by equipment failure, but rather human error. Some of them are even suicides.
Armed with my new knowledge, I started to feel a little better. Okay. I can do this. Honestly, your odds of dying in fall at home are 1 in 20,000. 160 people die everyday in car accidents. I still walk around my house. I still drive. Hell, I have raced dirt bikes and horses, gone white-water rafting, swam with sharks, went spelunking, rock climbed, rappelled, and had a baby. I have done shit way riskier than this.
I am explaining all of this to one of my coworkers today. I give her my spiel, tell her I’m feeling good about it, I will be strapped onto an expert, and end on a more philosophical note, “Ya know, at the end of the day, if it’s your time, it’s your time.”
She blinks at me. “What if it’s your instructor’s time?”
I am going to do this. And I am going to land, and hopefully it will be with my pants dry and my head held high. And not, you know, going really, really fast and with a splat.
Catch ya on the flip side.