Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Up And Down


It's not that I never challenge myself. Just this week I played Chopin in front of six entire humans who were not me. Also, I cohabited with an enormous can of salted peanuts for days. I could have polished it off in one sitting, but modesty held me back. It's unseemly to go for too much glory. It's unbecoming.

So when I took Dave to go skydiving, I didn't join in; I just watched.

They call it skydiving but it's not. It's like skydiving in that each flight lasts only a minute, but the same can be said of a handful of peanuts. And you can't see the sky. You're indoors in a massive cylindrical wind tunnel. You're all tricked out in a flight suit and goggles and helmet and you're supposed to walk into the wind tunnel and fall forward with your arms and legs out and your back arched and you will float in the air like a cabbage leaf. Dave is naturally graceful but he didn't really cabbage up. He went out straight as bacon and whacketed around like one of those plates-on-a-stick on the Ed Sullivan show. When his minute was up he had only begun to approximate hovering, but you do get two shots at it.

There's a trainer in there with you making sure you don't sail off altogether. He'll snatch you right out of the air. The flight suit has handles on it so he has something to grab, but if things go too far sideways he'll grab any old thing that's sticking out. They keep your credit card open in case he hits something good.

On his second flight, Dave has achieved a measure of control, hovering a few feet above the net, and the trainer grabs his suit and takes him up to spin around the top of the tunnel. They float up like ashes in a chimney--in fact from below all you can really see is their ashes--and back down and up and down again. When the minute is up, the trainer gets him by the neck and butt and Guido-bounces him right out the door. They're on a schedule, and they've already got your money.

Dave's turn to watch came that evening, when I hauled him along to a Sing-Your-Own-Messiah. This can be exciting even for a non-participant if he manages to get caught up in a gale of sopranos, but it was mostly altos around us. Fine with me. I learned the score as a soprano, but decades spent not singing stomped on my range, and I'm temporarily an alto on a tenor trajectory. I could park myself in the tenor section now, but I'm waiting for my mustache to fill in.

Alto basically sucks. You just get to doodle around in a tiny middle range where you sound kind of angsty in your lower register and impotent in your upper, so you yodel back and forth between the two looking for the sweet spot. Plus, your part is dull. You're just filler, just the adhesive to keep the sopranos and baritones from coming apart. You're the choral mayonnaise to their meat and cheese.

But you resign yourself, and you hang onto a melismatic Handel passage or two and start to stretch out the old vocal cords, and by Hallelujah time, you discover your husband is laying down some Hallelujahs of his own, hovering competently near the bottom of the bass clef, and you hitch a ride on a soprano and sail up to a high F just to see what ruptures, and nothing does, nothing does; and you float back down in one piece, full of blessings, and honor, and power.

And glory.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good flight and night.

37 comments:

  1. I'm sure this is the ONLY time I'll be contemplating both any old thing sticking out and the Messiah. Thanks for both. And a very merry Christmas to you as well.

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  2. That is so cool! If there was such a thing as that wind tunnel around here, I might actually try it!

    Or not. But I'd wish I had.

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    1. It's called "iFly" and it's got lots of locations. Closest to you is Seattle. Get back to us on that.

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    2. Too far for me, what with ferries and borders and all. Aren't I lucky?

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    3. Welll,...in many ways. But if you come visit, we'll do it together.

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  3. I made my first static line parachute jump when I turned seventy - Dave still has time.
    Happy holidays
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Nope. Nope nope nope nope. As you may recall the six-foot-tall roller coaster freaked me out.

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  4. My throat hurts just thinking about it.
    Floating on the wind sounds like fun even with someone threatening to grab whatever they can. Unless it's a she, then she can grab away.

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    1. I'd say you could close your eyes and imagine anything you wanted, but they frown on that.

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  5. That kind of skydiving (almost) makes my bucket list!!

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    1. Seemed doable to me until we got there. Now that I'm home again, it seems doable again.

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  6. I suspect that my smaller portion would like that. I am happy to be a voyeur.
    I hope, and feel sure, that your holiday season is full of love and laughter. And Pootie.

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    1. What's Christmas like where you are? Is there any cold at all? Because if Christmas makes you feel as though you need to be taking layers off, it isn't quite right. My first Christmas away from home was in Bavaria! Snow, sparkly stuff, goose dinner at the local.

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    2. Christmas CERTAINLY makes you feel as if layers should be taken off. We are cooler than some of Oz and will be nudging 100.

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    3. Oh Holy Crap, Our Star Is Brightly Shining.

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  7. I can visualize lots of things that could go wrong in that I-fly thing. It would be fun to watch though.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Yeah, really, they make it seem like it's going to be easy, all floaty, but until you get your body position right, it's kind of bad-grocery-cart wobbly.

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  8. I dunno about that "sky diving" experience. I have too much stuff to flap around that that could be a scary sight! Might even put an eye out!!!

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    1. Man, I love that "put an eye out" phrase. Merry Christmas, Rose!

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  9. The girlie end of the range was never my natural habitat, though I'm reliably told I got to E above C once.And now that I don't exercise vocally? All over the map.I wonder if I'd still be sent to the boys' side of the class to cover for all their embarassing boy-man squeaks.

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    1. We have a tradition in this family of starting every "Happy Birthday" song about five notes below middle C. That's what Dave's mom could manage, and now it doesn't seem right any other way.

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  10. I wouldn't go real sky diving, but I might go for this.

    No. I just started thinking about heart attacks and stuff, and ... no.

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    1. and...yes! I'm thinking I could do it now. Maybe. Definitely if it's a party and all my friends are doing it too. I'd damn near have to.

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  11. Almost forgot! Merry Christmas to everyone in your household!

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  12. Devery is a sky diver... and I love the Messiah Sing.... and I have always been an alto - Alyssa's partner goes up and does the wind tunnel stuff when the weather is not good for sky diving. Dave looked like he was having fun! And what a great day in December.... Merry Christmas to both of you!

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    1. If Devery wanted to take Dave up on a tandem dive, I'd, uh, let her. Uh, pay her.

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  13. Such a perfect description of how the voice works. Choral mayonnaise had me giggling.
    Yay Dave, skydiving without the risks. That's the best way.

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    1. Risks? There's risks to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane?

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  14. P.S. Merry Christmas from Adelaide, South Australia. The driest state in the driest continent.

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    1. Oh dear. You have to settle for beer, then?

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  15. Someone asked me the other day which super power would I want if I could have one. Fly!!! So I'm on the lookout for one of these places. And when if I find one near me, will I chicken out, I wonder.
    Merry Christmas!!!

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    1. I'm betting you won't. Look up iFly and see.

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  16. Skydiving FUN! Sing-Your-Own-Messiah, not so much for anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near me singing!

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    1. Oh, come on now! I've heard you sing, and I don't think you could possibly sing any better!

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