The last time I jumped off a cliff

Man Fish

I have no interest in jumping off cliffs. No thrill in falling.
Or entering water at high speeds. Why were we up here?
The tour guide was kind. Gentle. Seemed to know what he was talking about.  But he was barely twenty. I got hired to work for Big 5 Sporting Goods when I was sixteen. Turned out the company happened to be holding its annual ski sale extravaganza at the convention center the next day. It would be my first shift. I had never skied. Watched a bit on the Olympics with my big brother. A guy, maybe 10 years older than me, who looked like he had definitely skied, shuttled me to a small section of the massive convention hall. It was tense and loud. There were enormous amounts of colorful skis and and skiing paraphernalia everywhere. The air stunk like brand new stuff, and there were way too many people in the building. About half knew exactly what they were looking for and they were calmly and efficiently taking full benefit of their unjust advantage and filling up their shopping carts. The other half had no idea what they were looking for, and were now panicking that they were missing all of the best deals.  They were frantic for guidance. Before leaving me to my first shift, my escort mumbled a few things about the difference in skis best  suited for skiing moguls and those best for skiing with speed, and a general rule about how I should guide ski size recommendations based on a person’s height. I sold at least a hundred pairs of skis that afternoon. I was a fucking natural. I think a few managers swung by to listen to my schpeel. I’d even begun to take on the posture and phrases of a skier. This was the level of credibility of the person now urging me to just focus, make up my mind, take a few steps back, and leap off the center stone.  “After that,” he said, “just make sure to stay straight.”  I wanted to leave.  Why were we here?  Why were we rafting down the Colorado River? Why did Bob think this looked like fun?  I didn’t wait. I couldn’t bear it any more.  Like waiting to vomit. I turned, ran and leaped. I knew from the sensation in my quadricep that I would be far enough out to avoid the worst possible outcomes of death or paralysis. I was sure I would land in water and for that I was exuberant.  But I was not straight.  

I will speak when I am ready.  

October 2021

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