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Eventually, the Divine Miss Tiffany was safely transferred to the landing platform, without any actual mid-air copulation that we could see, but since that’s such a delicious phrase and possibility to work into the opening paragraph of a blog post, I simply had to go there. In any case, once the public-transport clothesline had been cleared of debris, human and otherwise, the rest of us who had been trapped on the Ewok tree were free to fling ourselves into space and allow the laws of physics to do whatever they must to keep us alive.
Rest assured that none of us let our gloved hands get anywhere near mechanisms of any kind. It’s fun and interesting when tragedy strikes other people. Not so much when it happens to you.
And for most of the rest of our zipping extravaganza in the jungle, things went quite swimmingly. There were a few tense moments when folks didn’t quite make it to the other end at some of the zip lines, but by now we all realized that it was probably a wiser move to just haul your ass to the platform rather than wait for one of the guides to throw his legs around you. After all, we had no idea where those legs had been. No one wants to get an STD in a foreign country where you don’t know the locations of free clinics. This is something that is not adequately covered in travel brochures.
But then it was time for the final zip. We traipsed up to that last launch platform with two mindsets. There were those among us who hadn’t had a particularly festive afternoon, and they were simply waiting for the pain, agony, and lack of cocktails to come to a miserable end. (Picture Tiffany, with her mangled glove and the slight abrasions around her waistline. She would never look fondly upon goats again.) Then we had folks who were quite saddened that our adventure was reaching the part where Carol Burnett would tug at her ear. (Picture Terry, who had greatly enjoyed the excursion, wiping away a tear as we approached final lift-off.)
Personally, I’d have to include myself in the enraptured group. After the first run, where I didn’t die and actually became slightly horny during the zip (don’t ask, just go with it), I’d had a rather swell time. But something seemed a little odd as we collectively gathered and sweated at the last station. For one, you couldn’t really see the destination. Granted, we had survived a few runs where the landing platform was a bit distant and vague, but you still got a sense of the general in which you would be flung.
This time? Not so much. The zip line simply vanished into mere sunshine and nothingness. We couldn’t see anything remotely resembling a place where one would wish to go, harnessed or otherwise.
But I was still adequately doped up on whatever body chemicals were coursing through my body after the morning’s physicality (after all, the only exercise I normally get consists of reaching for the TV remote control or hitting “enter” on a keyboard), so I really didn’t worry about things as I was once again hitched to the clothesline. Then I happened to glance at two of the lesser guides who were huddled off to the side, apparently exchanging money. What was that all about? Was it a drug deal, or were they betting on survival chances? That made me a little uneasy. Maybe I had better ask someone about-
“GO!” screamed the main guide standing right beside me, a gruff invective that both startled and aroused me. I instinctively ran to the end of the platform like the po-po were banging on the front door and dove head-first into nothingness.
And things were fine for roughly four seconds, with pretty greenery whipping by on both sides and a brisk wind cooling off my heated bits. Then I shot out of the trees and found myself in an open-air expanse that people typically only encounter when they drive up to the rim of the Grand Canyon. Except that I was way past that rim. And the other side of the canyon appeared to be in another country, like Ecuador or Australia.
So I screamed. Okay, maybe not screamed, but a crude expletive that normally references solid body waste fought its way out of my mouth and echoed up and down the canyon that was ungodly large and obviously a place where people died. This was clearly a moment that wise advertising personnel had left out of the glossy brochures.
But I managed to stop with the masculine screaming, somewhere over Colorado, and I got a second wind. As it became evident that I was not going to immediately perish, as long as I didn’t stick my fingers where they shouldn’t be, I actually relaxed enough to enjoy the view. Because really, it was quite magnificent. After all, how often do you get the chance to see things from the perspective of a flying creature that normally just poops on your car?
Then I started spinning.
I really didn’t welcome this development. I vaguely recalled that one of the guides, when he wasn’t flirting with all the women-folk in our entourage, had mentioned that spinning was a possibility. And that there were certain measures you could take to stop the spinning if you didn’t find it particularly enjoyable. But I really couldn’t remember what he proffered up as preventative actions, because at the time of his oratory I was more concerned with the fact that my flight gear was separating my testicles in a manner that was neither pleasant nor productive.
So I continued to twirl. Normally this is something that my people enjoy, preferably with an abundance of glitter and a Lady Gaga song playing in the background. But at this particular moment I was not a fan of the twirling. Revoke my gay card if the by-laws of our constitution say you must. Everything was blurry and I couldn’t figure out where I was, and I really didn’t care for feeling like Courtney Love on a typical Saturday night.
Then, by whatever happenstance and alignment of the planets, I stopped spinning. Right as I was approaching the very end of the run. This was a quick bit of business, and I only had about three seconds to assess the situation. I could see several friends and family members clustered near the landing platform, most of them cheering me on in that “Go Team!” way that non-athletes have when it comes to encouraging people do sporty things while watching TV in a bar during happy hour. This was sweet and all, but I couldn’t help but notice that I was rapidly heading toward a tree.
A tree with what appeared to be a mattress strapped to its trunk.
Despite my recent spinning and screaming, I was fairly certain that a tree should not come equipped with a mattress, unless there was some type of pain-avoidance scenario that owners of jungle-based entertainment venues wished to avoid. I was only able to process about three words in my brain (“why is there-“) before I slammed into the evil tree with enough power to make the slamming of Hurricane Katrina into New Orleans look like a hiccup.
My sunglasses flew in one direction, my already-abused testicles flew in another direction, and several internal organs flew to parts of my body that hadn’t received the memo about the new arrivals and proper accommodations had not been prepared. I slid down the tree and hung from the zip line like a piñata after children hopped up on birthday-cake sugar had beaten me with sticks. I fully expected emergency personnel to arrive within seconds and begin performing life-saving activity.
This did not immediately happen.
In fact, no one around me seemed all that interested in the possibility that I might never walk again. The only person who even glanced my way was one of the little lesser-guides who reached up and whacked at the pulley device above me so that I could drop to the platform with an unsatisfying thud. (And that was his job, so I’m not really going to give him any bonus points for merely following protocol.)
I plucked my sunglasses out of a nearby bush and staggered my way to a little ladder leading down from the platform, where I then managed to further desecrate my athleticism by not remembering how one navigates a ladder. I made it to the first rung with amazing skill and expertise, but then things got a bit jacked-up and I barely even touched the remaining rungs, hurtling downward in a manner that would have delighted those soul-deprived people who watch amateur videos and laugh hysterically at strangers who do stupid things that result in pain and disability checks.
And still, no one was paying any attention to the fact that I was not having a good time right at the moment. There just might have to be some harsh words exchanged with my supposed friends and family members, once the bodily pain diminished enough that I could form coherent sentences.
Eventually, I clamored back to my feet, brushing off the exotic Jamaican soil that was now in every crevice of my body, and turned toward said batch of former loved ones as they stood in a circle off to one side. I opened my mouth to say something essentially pointless but still cutting enough to be emotionally satisfying, then I quickly closed my offended mouth as I studied their behavior. They all seemed to be greatly focused on something in the midst of their circle, with all of them making cooing noises of delight and a few of them possibly approaching orgasm.
Well, this I had to see.
I walked up to the circle and shoved a few of the worshippers to the side (look, if you can’t rush to soothe me when I’ve slammed into a tree, you really don’t have a special place in my heart), thus allowing me to cast my eyes upon the idolatrous wonder that had enraptured them.
It was one of those one of those big-ass water coolers that you normally see on the tailgate of a government-owned truck parked by the side of a construction area on a highway, in one of those scenarios where hundreds of government-owned workers are standing around and doing absolutely nothing while you are trapped in your car for hours, log-jammed because the 6-lane highway has been reduced to 1 stupid lane. Why are those fools thirsty? The only person who is actually doing anything is the flag-waver person, and his bitter expression makes it very clear that he doesn’t care where you drive as long as it’s not toward him.
The acolytes at this particular jungle-based water cooler were shoving little paper cups at the dispenser spigot and sucking down the gushing liquid as if there had never been anything more glorious in the history of the planet, even surpassing the invention of fried cheese.
And suddenly, I realized that I was more thirsty than any human being should have to endure. I hadn’t really thought about my parched state during the entire trek through the tropical forests of Jamaica, mainly because I was more concerned about staying alive and such, but now that the lovely combination of hydrogen and oxygen was there for my taking from a slightly-dirty round vessel composed of plastic that won’t decompose in a landfill for 2 billion years, there was nothing I wanted more.
I grabbed a flimsy paper cup (at least the cup could be recycled, karma points for me) and shoved it under the spigot, knocking aside the hand of someone who was also reaching. (Screw you. You’ve been here longer than me, and if you haven’t managed to get what you need with that kind of head start, then you have personal issues that you really need to work through.) I filled my cup, purposely spilling a bit just to irritate those who were waiting, and gulped down the entire contents in one epic example of gluttony.
Oh. My. God.
I may have possibly spent my seed on the ground without impregnating anybody, an obvious affront to the seed-maintenance directives listed in the Bible, but that was the best water that I have ever tasted. Ever. I could smell colors and touch sounds.
“Incoming!” screamed one of the acolytes. Or one of the guides. Somebody hollered.
What? I’m having a religious experience here, why must there be shouting?
Then I heard a whizzing and looked up. Another member of our amateur flock was hurtling along the zip line toward the mattress tree. It happened so fast that I really couldn’t see who it was, but they were very un-original in their execution, as they basically copied my own routine, slamming into the tree with mind-numbing force. There might have even been blood spatter, but I’ll leave that decision up to the fine folks at CSI: Jamaica.
I turned back to the sacred font of obviously drug-laced liquid, and proceeded to gluttonize further. No shame in my game. Eventually, the newer arrivals shoved my belching ass to the side, intent on their own vision quest, but it really didn’t matter. I was sated at that point, and the only additional thing I might need in my life plan at that point was the appearance of a serving-wench type person bearing a plate of grease-dripping nachos and an alcoholic beverage.
But then one of the guides got our attention by assuming an authoritative pose, which basically involved him standing in a strikingly-flattering shaft of sunlight filtering through the lush leafy coverage over our heads, and then chastely rubbing in the general area of his crotch. (Those Jamaican men sure do love their appendages.) “We will now march back to camp!”
March back to camp? I don’t think so. At a hundred bucks a pop (U.S. dollars!) for this excursion, my water-logged butt wasn’t marching anywhere. I turned to glare at him defiantly.
He couldn’t have cared less. “Follow me to the camp!” he announced, with one final diddle on his digit. Then he whirled about and attempted to commence said march, with the firm conviction of Napoleon strutting his short-ass self into a certain place known as Waterloo.
I gave the knowing eye to all of my compatriots, full of the Norma Rae spirit, firmly convinced that they would join me in rising up against our oppressors.
Instead, they all completely ignored me and raced to fall in line behind the stoned Pied Piper who was now in charge of our lives.
To Be Continued…