Mundane Doesn't Describe It

For the slackatudinally challenged.

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I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting. Mark Twain, Hard work doesn't harm anyone, but I do not want to take any chances. - Unknown, I am retired and have tried to do as little as possible - slowly. Me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Firetower Fright.

Everyone has his or her phobias and I have mine - snakes and heights. Snakes I still have to deal with, but luckily not very often. Heights aren’t that bad to me except for narrow paths on mountain sides and firetowers. This is a story about vertigo to an extreme and how close you can come to getting yourself killed from a phobia and stupidity. The time and place were the early seventies and where I live.

I have a good friend that we used to go on what we called tours. In his old beat up car we would hit all the back road we could find and tour for hours on end. On this one tour we decided to buy some strawberry wine. Don’t ask me why because I hate the stuff, but we did. We’re far back in the country on a dirt road and we stop by a fire tower. After awhile the strawberry wine isn’t that bad. All of a sudden I decided I want to climb the steps of the fire tower up to the top. My friend always being the level headed person tried to talk me out of it. He also knew of my fear of heights. I wouldn’t hear of it. My bravery was pumped up by cheap wine at the time. So I go bounding up the step to the top under the fire tower room which was locked. My friend is with me and we sit up there and marvel at how far we can see. While up there I’m thinking this is great, why was I ever afraid of heights?

We decided to leave and I have the bright idea of scaling down the side of the fire tower to get to the bottom. Now my friend is really getting worried and tries to put his foot down on doing this. To late, I’m already on the side. I’m telling him it’s no problem, but he decides to take the steps.

I get down to the second level of parallel bars and I’m straddling the bar with a hand in front of me and a hand in back of me. In less than a nanosecond I become completely sober, and I’m having one of those moments of seeing everything more clearly than ever before. If you’ve ever seen the movie Vertigo you know the guy kept seeing the distance to the ground telescoped out. It truly happens. I couldn’t move and my friend knew I was in trouble. He kept telling me not to look down. Why do people do that? That’s the first thing you’re going to do when you hear it.

The platform was about 2-3 feet from me and he kept telling me just to put my foot over. It took me five minutes to get my foot over to the platform. You might think five minutes isn’t too long. It’s an eternity when a massive quantity of adrenaline is pumping through your body. I keep slowly edging my foot over the platform, while trying to keep myself balanced. I finally got to the platform and just sat and closed my eyes for a long while. We finally decide to go on down the steps, but this time I was not going down the steps as gingerly as I was gone up. I’m sitting on my butt and taking each step one at a time. I finally get to the ground and sit for a long while. I’m looking over at where I would have been if I had fallen. My friend brings over the wine and tries to hand it to me. I tell him no more, and never again. I had learned my lesson.

I never told my family about this, because I know they would have jumped all over me. However, I think they knew, because I was never sent to do any high work around the farm again.

It’s funny, I was telling a friend of mine who is in their seventies that while growing up I never expected to make it past 20 years of age, once that milestone was hit, I thought ok, 30 years of age. All of a sudden I find myself at my present age and wonder how did I get here. There were many times through my own stupidity or through others recklessness that I came close, but I know I’ve been lucky.

Now I look back at the whole thing and laugh and blame it youthful stupidity. But I also think, “Oh how lucky I’ve been.”

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