Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tiger Woods, Bungee Jumping and a Surreal Mick Fleetwood Moment

Tiger Woods bungee jumped the other day. Some of the sports talking heads are calling it reckless. Look, he's in New Zealand. They do shit like that there. They invented it. It's not reckless. Have you ever heard of a bungee jumping death?

Me neither.

Of course, it reminds me of the story involving my own experience of being attached to a really long rubber band and jumping from a very high platform.

I was visiting my parents. They lived in Louisville at the time. My best friend from college, who I played in a band with for years, called and said he was in Cincinnati, so I went to see him. He was on tour with a band called The Zoo. The notables in the band were Mick Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac, youngsters) and Billy Thorpe, who had one hit a long time ago called "Children of the Sun." Also in the band was Bekka Bramlett, who is often sighted in Nashville, in fact she may live here now. So I drove up and just hung out with them for a few days as they toured up through Ohio.

One evening, at about dinner time, I had my surreal Mick Fleetwood moment. Mind you, Fleetwood Mac was by far the biggest band in the world for years when I was growing up. So on this evening, I was standing on the second floor balcony of a Super 8 Motel and Mick was standing there outside his room in a shirt he hadn't bothered to button and tighty-whitey briefs. That's all he was wearing. And he was telling me that he wanted to get a hot air balloon for his back yard he could just "get in it a float away above all the chaos" whenever the shit hit the fan. What "shit" he was talking about, I'm not sure. While I did spend a few days with the band, I never figured out whether he was serious or just yanking my chain. But I do remember thinking at the time that it was a very surreal moment.

So that night, we go to the club and there is a bungee jumping crane set up. The first thing I thought was, "no fucking way am I going to go up there and jump off that thing." Then the Budweiser girls showed up in their bathing suits, and all of them went straight to the sign-up table to jump. Then Bekka Bramlett and her friend Julieann signed up. So, of course, my macho pride got the best of me and I signed up too.

They took us up in groups of five or six. There were a few people working on the platform, one of them being a really, really, really hot woman. I was in a group that included Billy Thorpe. (Everyone confused him with Billy Squire, and would scream "play 'Stroke Me Stroke Me'" everywhere he went. Really pissed him off.) So Billy Thorpe went before me. They hooked him up to the bungee, and he turned and faced us all. He looked at the hot chick and said, in his brash, Australian accent, "Honey, there's a good chance that I'm about to die, and the last thing I want to see before I die is your tits!" Funny even one-hit wonder old rock stars get requests like that granted. He didn't die, but he was quite happy when he disappeared over the edge.

I was next. The choices were to be attached to a harness around your chest or around your ankles. I chose ankles. I chose to fall off backwards, because I didn't think I could face forward and actually jump. I stood at the edge of the platform, and the guy very calmly said, "I am going to count backward from five, then just go." When he got to one, he gave me a light tap on the chest, not a push, just a tap. As I was falling, I heard a very loud scream. Much to my surprise, it was me. I don't scream on roller coasters or anything like that, it was totally spontaneous.

The best word I can think of for doing that is unnatural. To go up that high and jump into the air goes against every instinct in your consciousness. And you know what else? It hurt. It actually hurt my back. I was sore for a couple of weeks.

I jumped from 150 feet. Tiger Woods jumped from 450 feet. That's just reckless.


At 9:46 PM , Blogger newscoma said...

People were yelling "Stroke Me, Stroke Me" to you?
I guess that would have pissed me off to if it was done with Billy Squire in mind.
At least they didn't confuse you with that Rupert guy that sang the Pinacolada Song.
Now that would suck.

At 11:36 PM , Blogger Kat Coble said...

I'm such a killjoy. But my husband used to work at at a nursing home/rehab center during grad school. It was a place where people with closed-head injuries went to either learn to walk and talk again or not bother their families with their permanent vegatative state.

He had 5 patients who hadn't died from bungie jumping, but had been permanently reduced to eating from a tube and being unable to walk or speak. Apparently there's a type of bungie jumping that causes your brain to come loose from the brain stem and bounce around against your skull.

At 11:57 PM , Blogger Ryan said...

NK, I am such a celebrity whore. Your Edie Brickell, Playmate, Mick Fleetwood, and Billy Thorpe stories make me giddy--and I'm not really the giddy type. The best I got is seeing John Prine in Toys 'R Us and going eighth-grade-schoolgirl weak in the knees. I'm a bit afeared of the bungee experience, but I am determined to skydive (although I am petrifed of heghts).



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