Monday, January 14, 2008

He Said, She Said, Or Bungees Away!!!

My sister out-of-the-blue sent me this first draft of a story she felt compelled to write down. I read it with amusement, as I had told the same tale myself long ago, only from my perspective. Here is her tale, alongside a repasting of the way I remember the day. (And the You Tube clip is of a bungee jump in case you've never done one.)

Bungee Jumping

It all started at an “Outdoor Show” where they showcase everything from woolly warm hiking socks, to the newest kayaking equipment and adventure travel tours. I stopped at a booth touting bungee jumping. I had been skydiving twice and had a curiosity about this, the same thrill that could be had from a stationary object, for less money and without a plane involved. After finding that the jumps were done over a reservoir near my house I shrugged and said “Sign me up!” Jamal, my boyfriend, looked stunned for a split second but quickly chimed in “Me too!” We went home and told my brother Scott about the upcoming thrill and he wanted in too.

And so it came that we found ourselves pre-dawn at a designated gas station waiting for our coaches and our equipment to appear. However, the next car to pull in to the lot was a low-rider, a large 4 door 1970ish Buick with special lowered shocks, filled with members of Hispanic decent seated low enough so all that I could see was the whites of their eyes and the brim of their sideways baseball type caps. A shiver went down my spine and I tried to reason that I would be safe with my two 6 foot 4 companions. We were to later learn that this was a group from an Oakland gang with one of their members nicknamed Drive-by (seriously) more than likely because he was successful at drive-by shootings. As we sat looking at them and them at us, a van pulled in carrying the two guys that I recognized from the table at the outdoor show. The other car did not leave. They were waiting for the van too.

After a briefing we tried on harnesses. We were told to put them on now so as to save time up at the site. Since what we were doing was illegal, the faster it was done and dismantled, the less our chances of being arrested. The lightest participants were to go first so that, as the weight progressed, lines could be added to compensate for the extra pull. That would put me about in the middle. Good, I could watch a few times and then take my turn before I had a chance really think about what I was doing. Then it was back into our separate cars to follow the van up to the bridge. On the way up the hill we nervously giggled about the fact that we were about to be one with a “dangerous” gang from Oakland avoiding the real source of our nervousness.

The excitement was buzzing on that cold, crisp morning as we found ourselves on a high bridge overlooking Lake Sonoma and the sun began to rise. We, more or less, kept to our familiar groups as we watched the platform and anchoring equipment being attached to the side rails. It was becoming apparent that Drive-by was a cocky young rooster trying to impress us all with his bravado. As one of his lighter weight buddies was being loaded on to the platform he taunted and teased and danced around him like a bull fighter taunts a bull that is already tired and wounded. It was at that point that Jim, one of the organizers approached me and asked me quietly to let him borrow my harnesses. “Don’t let anyone see you take it off. You’ll get it back in plenty of time”. A strange request, I thought, but then no stranger than standing on a bridge at dawn with this group of folks waiting to plunge myself over a railing. So, I complied.

And then it was Drive-by’s turn to step up to the plate. His machismo was cranked up as if he believed he was the only one brave enough to be launching himself through air with complete trust in the strangers that had taken our money and tied the knots, never mind that 3 others had gone before him and a girl was about to go next. As we counted down 3, 2, 1 and he pushed away from the secure hold on the cement rail I saw my harness in Jim’s hand held behind his back. Just as the commitment was made and the tight grip on the railing was lost Jim held up the harness and yelled “Wait, you need this!!” That was all it took for the cocky young leader’s look of confidence to turn to sheer terror. Significant changes must have taken place in that boy’s mind in the next few seconds. When, of course, he did find the end of the ride safe and sound, he started yelling up “I’m gonna kill you son of a bitch!” but the tone of his voice had changed. It had in it the tremor of a man who knows that he is dependant on someone else and not an icon on his own.

I got my harness back in plenty of time to take my turn. I jumped once from facing the bridge, got pulled up and jumped again facing my fears and the water. I’d like to say that the experience of my jump is what this story is about but the memory of my own jump is not as clear to me as the moment that caused Drive-by to face his own mortality. I don’t know if that change lasted long as I am sure that he couldn’t survive in his real world with the weakness of admitted dependence, but for the rest of that morning he was a changed man. He was even polite to the white girl.

(And here is my version, I wrote when this blog first opened for business...)

--Bungee Brent And Drive By Shootings--

Ever get asked to do something that you just know is going to be fun?

And then it turns out fun?

But not what you expected?

In other words, if someone asked you to go jump off of a two hundred foot bridge with an old couch waiting at the bottom of a ravine missing some pillows, would you do it?

I did it. And I pooped right before I did.

WARNING! This story contains descriptions of a naked butt. Though not actually a sexual fantasy post, it does contain some images that go up and down alot...

My sister stopped by one day with her boyfriend Jamal and told me she and Jamal just met this guy who calls himself "Bungee Brent". She said he was coming up from Oakland where he is from on the weekend to put on an illegal and surreptitious Bungee jump off of a country bridge just outside of Healdsburg, California. I said, "Yes, I would."

Sandy said "Wait for the question."

I said "You know how I am..."

(She had heard stories...)

She said it was like, forty or fifty bucks and I said let's hit the ATM and before you know it, Saturday morning was upon us and I was crawling out of bed at three am...

I had a cup of coffee and the three of us ate something my sister knocked up and we headed up to Healdsburg, pulling into a gas station right at four am, about thirty minutes early...

Ever sit in a car somewhere at that hour of the night and start to feel a little like you are about to make a deal? And I don't mean the Bob Barker kind, either. You are just sitting there and you know you look like a couple of urban hooligans waiting to meet "The Man" for your special concoction...

You look around like you are cool. You hang your arm out the window and drum your fingers. You hope the cops don't roll by and give you a hard time...

After ten minutes of this we heard the BOOM BOOM BOOM of a ghetto box in the backseat (and trunk) of an older Caddy with bondo and primer, chopped springs and four rough looking Mexican dudes in the car. The driver was the only big one, but the other three looked like they'd knife you in a second if you let them. Tattoos everywhere and lots of silver up and down the ears.


It was too early for this kind of shit. What the hell do these clowns want?

They pulled up along side us as we sat there. Their music was so loud and their heads were all bobbing to it and at first they seemed like they weren't too interested in us, except they pulled up only three feet away from us and they were just bobbing their heads and rocking to the BOOM BOOM BOOM of some ghetto trash on their stereo.

Now I'm just big and white and suburban looking. I can't help it. Suburbs from way back, for me. I've got no inner city coolness or ghetto hipness or jailtime edginess or even ethnic easiness...

Just a big ol' goofy guy, really. But I'm strong. So I don't scare easily.

My sister is a tough chick but she is still a chick. She does however, possess kicking legs that would make a kangaroo sit up and fall down backwards.

Jamal was our ticket here. His mother was a white hippy but his father was a black hipster. He could relate to these Mexican thugs in a way that might save us from having to fight for our skins.

But he was on the opposite side of the car from the gansta low-rider dudes in the Caddy with the BOOM BOOM BOOM going and the bobbing heads.

The moment was intense. Scenarios of blood-filled denouments filled my mind

The Mexican guy rolled down his window and reached out and tapped our car with his ring, making a ticking sound. Sandy rolled down her window. The guy said something. He was shouting, but we didn't hear him over the noise of the stereo. He turned and yelled in the car, and the music got turned down. It was suddenly real quiet.

"Is this the place for the Bungee jumpin', man?"


"Is this where we're supposed to meet up? 'Cause if it is, I gotta get me some coffee."

"Yeah, this is it."

"Right on, man. Cool. Like, anybody want some coffee? I'm buyin'."

I said yes. What the hell. He was buyin'...

He brought back several cups of coffee and we all sat on the hood of the Caddy or leaned against it and sipped coffee and exchange pleasantries... "My name is Miguel. But people call me "Drive-By". This is my crew of homies, man. Like this is Jesus. Armando and that creepy lookin' guy is Chip."


"You think that's funny, man? He don't think that's funny. How would you like it if your Papa called you Ignacio or some shit like that?"

More cars came. A crowd had gathered. All in all, there were about thirty people and Bungee Brent, who introduced himself and his assistant Marley and we learned he was from Oakland and played basketball on Tuesday nights with Drive-By and they were good rivalrous friends.

We all caravaned out of town and headed up a country road that led to some good vineyard land full of vines and came upon a very tall and narrow bridge perhaps two hundred feet off of the ground. Maybe two twenty. At the bottom of the ravine sat an old couch someone had tossed over the bridge in a fit of overzealous littering.

"Think you can hit that?" asked Bungee Brent to a silenced crowd who looked over and thought about what they had paid to do in a moment. There were nervous titters.

This kind of stuff amuses me to no end.

The sun was just cracking on the horizon, and Bungee Brent worked hard and fast to secure an anchor for his system. I watched carefully. I was, after all, one of the heaviest ones. Then he started placing harnesses on people and tossing them over the side. They yelled and screamed and laughed and laughed and hooted and shouted and bounced around with big, exuberant smiles on their faces.

Then it came.

That feeling you dread. With everybody around and your turn approaching, and nothing in God's green earth you could do to stop it. It came suddenly and I should have known. I should have anticipated. I should have been more prepared.

I had to go poo.

I had had a second cup of coffee. It loosened me up. I was gonna have to go. I was gonna have to go soon.

Like right away.

I waddled to the edge of the bridge and walked around and down into the ravine. The edges were steep, but I could get in and under the bridge just enough to be out of view and I dropped my drawers and out it came. I'll spare you the details (it was horrible!), but what I will tell you is that I forgot about the Bungee Jumper. You know, the one who got to hang there and watch what I was expelling while bouncing around in space? You know, the tough looking Mexican dude named Chip? Who had a bit of announcer wannabe in him? Who started giving a play by play? Who got everybody to lean over the side to see what I was doing? And I had to clean up with grass plucked up from the earth which made it all even more tough on me.

Everybody now yelling "Oooooh, GRASS WIPE!" like that was the funniest thing ever.

I put my head between my knees and just hit the "IGNORE" button in my brain. I mean, what else was I gonna do?

Thankfully, it ended and Bungee Jumping in and of itself was enough of an interest and distraction that people soon forgot about my arse. It was now Drive-By's time and he was going to just fall backwards like a Lipton Plunge. Bungee Brent had stashed an extra harness by his feet, and when Drive-By started to lean back and fall... Bungee Brent pulled out the extra harness and yelled "YOU FORGOT YOUR HARNESS, MAN!" Waving the harness like a flag.

Drive-By bit for just long enough that you could see terror overcome his face as he fell back. Nothing to grab but air as he grabbed lots of it, trying to get back to a firm bridge while he fell without a harness...


He bounced and cussed and swore and threatened life and limb while we all had a belly laugh and his buddy Chip just kept saying "That's fucked up, man." and then it was my turn.

I did a cannon-ball of sorts and the short-lived moment was all that and more.

What a RUSH...

1 comment:

meno said...

How interesting to read both of these stories. You each concentrated on such different things.

I am naming my next cat "Drive-By."

It's a big old goofy world.