by Mike McHugh
My wife, Susan, had been talking for years about wanting to skydive. I never took her seriously, chalking it up as an expression of her mid-life crisis. The Prince Charming she married turned out to be someone whose idea of a romantic dinner is popcorn and Diet Coke at a showing of “Hangover 2,” and so she wants to jump out of an airplane to make up for it. If every wife in this country followed through on their mid-life impulses, the skies would look like an estrogen-infused version of D-Day.
Thus, it surprised me when one day she skipped in the door saying, “Guess what? I found a great deal on Groupon for skydiving!”
“So you’re finally going to go through with it,” I said.
“Yes, I’m so excited!”
“Sounds like it,” I told her. “But do you really think it’s wise to shop around for cheap deals on skydiving? You might end up getting on a plane that was built by the Wright brothers.”
“Don’t be silly,” she said. “The company is certified and has an excellent safety record. You’re not scared of me going, are you?”
“Of course not. I never hear anything about people having to be squeegeed up from the ground because of skydiving accidents. It’s just that I don’t see the point to it.”
“Come on,” she said to me, “You’re not going to give me that stuff about why anybody would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, are you?”
“No,” I answered. “In fact, I’ve been on a few commercial flights that were so awful I had half a mind to do that very thing.”
I’m being honest in saying that I’m not scared of going skydiving. Really, I’m not. Okay, so don’t believe me. Susan at least believes me—I think. And my daughter, Jessica, never expressed any doubts to that effect when she signed up to join her mother on the excursion.
No one else whom I talked to about it expressed any fears, either. Most were like me, saying they wouldn’t or couldn’t do it for various reasons such as indifference, back problems, having to spend the whole next day getting their hairdo fixed, whatever. My informal survey led me to conclude that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who go skydiving and those who are too afraid to admit they’re afraid to go.
And then there’s me, who (honestly!) isn’t afraid but just doesn’t care to go. I have better things to do with my time on a weekend, especially during baseball season. Or football season. Or hockey season.
As expected, the girls made it through the experience without ending up like a couple of love bugs on the grill of a pickup truck. Susan called right after she landed so I’d know, not that she was safe (because, of course, I wasn’t worried!), but rather that her phone hadn’t slipped out of her pocket at 10,000 feet. That was the real concern, being as how she has problems locating from 20 feet away.
Upon arriving home, Jessica went on without pausing to breathe about what a thrill it was. Caught up in her excitement, I found myself promising to go along when she does it again next year. Finally coming to my senses, I added, “as long as it’s a weekend when there’s no hockey, baseball, or football.”