My Week 39: I Am A Daredevil (kind of), and How To Get Out Of Setting Yourself On Fire

Monday: I may or may not be a daredevil

On Sunday night, K and I left for a mini-vacation to Blue Mountain Resort. Ken couldn’t come, because he’s a big baby, and way too honest to take sick days off work when he’s not actually sick. I didn’t have to do that of course; I took two days off in exchange for working two other days the next week that I didn’t have to, being technically off for the summer. Another reason why I love my new job. Anyway, we arrived Sunday night, then got up nice and early on Monday morning (bearing in mind that 10 am is “early” for K), and planned our day. I was all gung ho to try a lot of the different activities and prove that I was adventurous. Yep, that was the plan. But here’s how it went down:

The Ridgerunner: This is a roller coaster type ride. You get strapped into a car which is attached to a mono-rail type thing, and then you get pulled on a 75 degree angle up the mountain. When you get to the top, you go back down in a series of dips and gyres at around 45 km. per hour. That might not seem very fast, but believe me, it is, when it’s just you and blind faith that your car is NOT going to break off the track and smash into the mountain. I had done this one already last year, and knew what I was in for. K and I made a “no brake pact” in honour of our uncle/brother-in-law who passed away recently, and by the time I reached the bottom of the hill, I was a little hoarse from the involuntary screaming. But it’s all very safe, and the people who run it make you watch a video first, then check your seatbelt and the car to make sure everything is functioning the way it should. Which just shows you how times have changed. When I was a kid, Blue Mountain had something called the Slide Ride. This was a concrete chute that went down the mountain, and the cars ran freely in the track, kind of like a crazy-ass bobsled run. You had a hand brake that, in theory, would slow you down by grinding on the concrete, but it was a theory in the same vein as Fred Flintsone’s feet being able to stop his dino-car. There was no age or height limit, and kids would fly out of the cars or off the track all the time. I don’t even remember being told to wear the seatbelt. The attitude back then was less “safety first” and more “you probably shouldn’t smoke on this ride—you’ll need both hands to brace yourself against impact when you hit the curve and launch into the air”. Anyway, the Ridgerunner was a blast, and I got off laughing.

I stopped laughing when K convinced me to try something called the “Apex Bag Jump”. While this may sound kind of like a fun, bouncy castle-ish thing, it’s actually a set-up where you jump off a high platform onto something akin to a stuntman’s gigantic airbag. From the ground, this didn’t look so bad. Then we got up on the platform, and the very enthusiastic attendant told us we had a qualifying jump first before we could jump from the higher towers, and explained that the proper way to do it was to take a running leap off the platform from something that looked like the plank on a pirate ship, then cross your arms in midair and land in a seated position. Are you f*cking kidding me? I am NOT a multi-tasker. Plus, it was WAY higher than it looked from the ground, probably 30 feet up at least, with each tower higher than the previous one. K went first though, and after a couple of false starts, she leapt off the platform and landed perfectly. The attendant gave her a thumbs up. Then it was my turn. I stood at the edge, looked out over the bag, and knew how people felt when pirates made them “walk the plank”, only the metaphorical sword poking me in the back was my pride. So I swallowed my terror, ran and leaped into the air. When I landed on the bag, the attendant called out, very cheerfully, “Oh, almost! You’ll have to do it again!” K was like “you can do it, Mom!”, so I gave her a grim smile and trudged back up the tower. When I got there, I said to the attendant, “I need you to do me a favour. No matter what happens, I want you to tell me I DIDN’T qualify. If I have to do this from higher up than I already am, I will have a heart attack. Please. I’m begging you.” He looked momentarily confused, but agreed to say that I couldn’t qualify. After several false starts, and with K shouting encouragement, I jumped again. As I landed, I heard the attendant call out, “Oh too bad! You didn’t qualify. But your daughter can have all your tickets, so she gets extra jumps!” So in the end, it worked out OK, except that K overheard the attendant say to me, “Actually, your form was fine—you would have qualified for the next level”, and she was like, “What?!”, but she forgave me for being a big wussy. And I was able to take a picture of her in midair, jumping off the highest tower, which was pretty cool.

But then we came to the next activity on the list—the Timberland Treetop Challenge. This is an activity for crazy people. It involves helmets, harnesses, carabiners, hooks, and other assorted mountain climbing type gear. You put it all on and then you climb a 40 foot tower, and traverse a course that includes rope bridges, tight ropes, 2 by 4 swings that dangle in midair that you have to step on to get to the next platform, balance beams, ziplines with angled landing pads, and other insane sh*t. And you do all this while you’re attached to a thin wire over 50 feet in the air. I managed to climb up the tower, and when I dragged myself up over the edge, my fear of heights came back full force. Well, let me clarify—I’m not afraid of heights, I’m afraid of falling FROM THEM. I looked at what was ahead of me—planks of wood that were swaying back and forth, leading to a platform 30 feet away—then I looked behind and considered the likelihood that I would be able to climb DOWN the tower. I had no choice but to go forward. By the time I reached the first platform, my legs felt like rubber, but I soldiered on. At one point, I was hanging off a 20 foot wide cargo net, my upper body and shoulders burning with the exertion and my feet scrabbling for purchase, when it occurred to me that this probably wasn’t the best activity for a woman in her late 40s who never works out. When we got to the end of the first course, another enthusiastic attendant named “Josh” said, “See? Wasn’t that great? Now you can do the second course.” Surprisingly, by that time, I was so desensitized to the fear that I said, “Yeah, all right.” So K and I did course 2 and 3. When we were finished, Josh was like “Wasn’t that fun??!!” K and I both agreed that No, it wasn’t fun. But we felt a great sense of accomplishment, and I have the bruises to show for it. And as K pointed out, if we were ever in a burning building, we knew that we were capable of shimmying out onto a ledge high above the ground and leaping into a firefighter’s net. Another worst case scenario taken care of. Huzzah!

Ironically, the scariest part of the whole trip was when I was accosted by a deaf panhandler in Booster Juice. He handed me a card that instructed the reader to “purchase it for whatever amount you think is fair”. Well, I didn’t WANT to purchase it, so I put it down on the counter and shook my head. At which point, he started looming over me in a very unfriendly fashion, and yelling at me in sign language. I know he was yelling because he was mouthing some pretty inappropriate language. I panicked and ran out without my drink, looking for K, who was waiting for poutine up the street. The bizarre thing is that I deal with panhandlers all the time in Toronto, and they’re pretty much always really pleasant, even if you don’t want to give them anything. They know how to market themselves for a big city clientele, unlike these entitled resort hobos.

Overall, it was a great trip though—K and I spent a lot of time just people-watching, inventing names and occupations for strangers. My favourite is still “Guido and The Smoke”, two Jersey Shore-looking guys, one of whom (The Smoke) we decided worked in a bar. The other, Guido, was a professional mini-golfer who was going through a career crisis because he had just been beaten on the Blue Mountain mini-putt course by The Smoke’s 5 year-old son, who was now celebrating his victory by dancing around in the fountain in front of Wild Wing. Guido was shoeless, sitting on the steps of the fountain, and wiping his eyes, while The Smoke, who was shamelessly smoking in defiance of the No Smoking sign directly in front of him, kept coming over to pat him on the shoulder in a gesture of manly comfort. Or maybe he didn’t “qualify” for the bag jump—it happens.

Saturday: How to get out of setting yourself on fire.

So yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States, which is affectionately known as SCOTUS, which, I’m sorry, is a little too close to “scrotum” for my taste, legalized gay marriage. So no more sombre marriages, y’all! No, I kid. Anyway, apparently there is an evangelical pastor down in the States who declared a couple of weeks ago that he would SET HIMSELF ON FIRE if the ban on gay marriage was overturned. And guess what? It was! Now, I haven’t heard what his plan is yet, but I’m pretty sure he was just bluffing, having that typical evangelical arrogance that the Supreme Court justices were all dicks like him. But wait—what do you do when you say you’re going to do something, and now you’re having second thoughts? Especially if it involves self-immolation? Cuz that is definitely not the same as missing a party because you’re tired. So here are a few ideas for how to NOT set yourself on fire when you said you were going to.

1) Set myself on fire if GAY MARRIAGE was legalized? What? I thought they said NEIGH Marriage. People should NOT be allowed to marry horses—it’s just wrong.

2) This humidity! All my matches are so damp—I couldn’t light a fire to save my life!

3) Last night an angel came to me and said, “Don’t set yourself on fire over this. Hold out for marriage between humans and aliens from other planets. (whispers) It’s coming.”

4) I was speaking metaphorically. And now I will burn this headshot of myself. It was taken during my early figure skating career, when I was definitely NOT gay.

5) I was only kidding! Did you take me seriously? Dude, I am SO sorry.

6) I can’t set myself on fire because I recently learned that I am also gay. And now I will be marrying my long-time friend and companion, Larry.

7) Apparently, there are bylaws in this city against burning trash. So sorry.

8) F*ck you, I’m moving to Canada. Wait, what?

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