It looked innocent enough from the outside, though not at all like I imagined. There were no flashy neon signs or sky high striped tents - just a tall, industrial type building.
We piled in unceremoniously, giggling and a little breathless. Not your typical bridal shower, I’ll give you that. But the idea of weak coffee and tiny sandwiches in my grandmother’s parlor room was infinitely more attractive than this. What kind of sick women came up with this alternative?
Leading that pack was my younger sister, the self assured bride-to-be. Where she got that gorgeous blonde hair, I’ll never know. It bounced as she walked, pony tail swinging in perfect rhythm. Since my frizzy, dull brown mop never looked good past my ear lobes, the nub it formed didn’t bounce. Plenty of other things did though.
I had refused to wear spandex. It was a cruel requirement of this strange place to outlaw baggy clothes and my foot had come firmly down.
My sister conceded with a shrug. “Maybe they won’t let you do it then.” Light bulbs flashed, I’d wear a nightshirt if it got me out of this one.
“Welcome to the Metropolis School of Circus Arts ladies. Are you the Smith group?” She was tall, loud and firm everywhere it counted. And she was completely covered in spandex. I groaned quietly.
What I saw next took my breath away.
Nets and ropes hung everywhere from a ceiling that my near-sighted vision could barely make out. People were actually standing on miniscule platforms suspended in thin air. And then, horrors of horrors, they leaped off.
I cringed, waiting for the sound of “Eeeeeekkkkk” to reverberate through me.
Nothing came. A few sharp, echoed shouts were heard, but that was it. No sounds of terror. No splats as a body hit the cement floor. Amazing.
Ms. Spandex was going over the “class procedure,” holding out some sort of harness. I swallowed lumps of hard, chunky fear.
Who ever heard of trapeze-ing for a bridal shower anyway? Leave it to my baby sister.
Ms. Spandex suited us up in the contraptions. My extra large tee was knotted and tucked behind a wide strap while my sister looked on smugly. Before I knew it I was being prodded like a farm animal towards a ladder reaching to heaven.
Apparently, I was supposed to climb it. White knuckles gripped the metal and my sock feet turned to lead. Ms. Spandex patted me awkwardly. “You’ll need to leave your glasses down here. Safety hazard once you’re air born.” Not a place I ever really wanted to be.
It was actually better without my frames. I could see a few feet in front of me as I climbed, but beyond that all was a blur. Soon a muscled arm helped me onto a platform about 6 feet square. He unhooked me somehow (which seemed counterproductive) and instructed me to stand at the edge, toes peeking over.
I think I stood there for hours. The blur that was the floor fifty feet below still seemed terrifyingly deadly. I tried to remember if the nets had any holes large enough for me to fit through.
Muscle Man gave stern instructions behind me. Jump or climb down. “You’re kidding, right? I’m not climbing back DOWN.”
He motioned towards the bar in front of me and raised one eyebrow. I vowed to strangle my sister if I got down alive.
Once I had the bar in my grip it was too late to go back. The power of gravity gave me exactly 1/16 of a millisecond to swallow my fear before jumping. Either that or fall face forward.
The screams were legendary. “EEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK!”
The instructor shouted directions at me after the first swing. Apparently I was supposed to hook a leg over and hang upside down. Not in your lifetime bub.
But the gentle motion was kind of nice. I imagined touching the clouds just beyond that steel roof.
“Hup!” Time’s up. Now for the easy part, I simply had to let go and fall to the net. Um, fifty feet to the net.
Panic threatened, but the strain in my forearms would hear no argument. Neither would Muscle Man.
Falling is never as long as you imagine it will be. Before the “Eeeee” was capped by the “k” I hit the net. While my stomach settled, the blonde head of my sister came into focus.
“Soooooo? Awesome, wasn’t it? We each get three leaps!”
Author's Note *** Based on a true (and terrifying) story ;-)
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