Shortly after my first marriage I took up a new hobby, skydiving. It was awesome!
I worked at the university, which happened to have a skydiving club. Being a member of the university staff I was allowed to join clubs and receive any benefits the club members enjoyed. The major benefits of the skydiving club were: 1. They had gear so you didn’t have to rent, 2. They had a regular connection with a pilot and drop zone and 3. The dues went to lift tickets making the cost of jumping a little more bearable.
The first time a person jumps results in one of only two responses. ‘That was cool, I’m glad I did that.’ This was usually the reaction of those with trepidations who intended to try it at least once. Then there was, ‘WOW! How soon can we go back up?’ I never heard, “That was horrible,” or “I didn’t like that.” The experience is so thrilling and mind altering that it is really hard to put any negative spin on it.
I stayed with the club for several years, netting more than 200 jumps, earning a “C” Advanced level license (A is beginner, B intermediate, C advanced, D expert-professional), and worked toward getting my Riggers Ticket, which is a license owned by those qualified to pack reserve, backup chutes.
Every weekend the club would go out to a little, privately owned airstrip in the back fields of SC, near a little town called Bishopville. The owner was a crop duster, owning two crop-dusting planes, a Cessna which was the jump plane, and enough open land for a dirt runway, a small service building and a utility shack. Other than the road that ran by the place and one farm house, there wasn’t anything but farmland for about a mile all around.
There are a lot of rules and regulations in skydiving, obviously. But there is one very strict, but fun rule. The Beer Light does not go on until the wheels of the plane carrying the last jump of the day have left the ground. Once that last flight is in the air, those on the ground can pop their tops or light up their j’s.
On any given weekend there would be 15 to 30 folk on the D-Z (drop zone). Some would spend the night sleeping in sleeping bags in the service building or in the plane, or out under the stars. Others would head home after one day of fun. Of those 15 to 30, half would be drinkers and half would be smokers, some crossovers, of course, and a few who abstained altogether.
I was on the smoker side. Smoke only for me. The owner/pilot and his wife were old potheads and crossovers. The owner’s wife and I had a little flirtatious thing going. She was an attractive, older, hippy type. If you’ve read much of my blog, you may know my fancies are older women with that casual, free spirt air.
I was newly married so I wasn’t going anywhere with it, but it was fun to be flirted at and occasionally, when my low self esteem and naivete allowed it, to have a come back.
One weekend I happened to be one of the smokers with a supply. Actually it seemed like I was usually the one with some supply. Anyway, a large group of us were in the service building chatting and the like, taking a bit of a break during the middle of the day. Jane, the owner’s wife, signaled me with her hand and said, “Come here, I need to ask you something.”
We went into one of the other rooms where we were all alone. Being the supervisor for the club, I half-expected her to have some private club business. She sat down and said, “I’ll jump you for a little pot.” I looked at her for a moment. She realized her wording, giggled and said, “I mean, I’ll give you a free jump.” Damn my naivete! Had I been quicker, more aware, more worldly, what an opportunity for a host of good comebacks and who knows how many weeks of fun tit-for-tat. I missed it. It slipped right by me until a good while later.
For some time afterward I wondered how much of a slip of the tongue was it? Where is Freud when you need him? Not only regarding her slip, but my lack of wit.