My dad is going on a private plane ride around the city for his birthday this year. He has asked me to come along. “It’ll only be about an hour,” he said. “Sorry, pops,” I replied. “But I’ve seen La Bamba.”
I’m scared of heights, you see. Have been for quite some time. I remember how it started, too. When I was a kid, I lived on the 2nd floor of a duplex with my family. There was a side door that led out onto a sizable balcony that we could hang out on when the weather was nice. The thing is, it was old and rickety, so it was torn down to make room for a new one to be built. One day I went to head out the side door, forgetting there was nothing there to walk on. Just before taking that first step, I looked down and noticed I was about to tumble right over. The ground looked far away for a split second, then my eyes felt like a camera zooming in for an extreme close-up. I lost my breath as I stepped back, closing the door all in one motion.
The fear of heights has been with me ever since, and has affected me in weird ways. I guess I feel something of a kinship with Jimmy Stewart’s character in the classic Hitchcock film, Vertigo. Or, to put it more bluntly, you might say I have a long history of being a wuss.
I’ve never flown anywhere, and don’t intend to, if I can help it. Too much of a Buddy Holly fan, I guess. A friend of mine was getting married across the country a few years back. Would have loved to have attended the wedding, but I wasn’t about to fly, much less spend several days in a car heading there and back. Oh well. I’m sure it was a lovely ceremony.
I also don’t look out of windows when on an upper floor. Not straight down, anyway. Gazing out into the distance is fine. But, if I look straight down, my vision blurs. I love taking in an occasional live baseball game, too, but I can’t so much as peek over the balcony of the stadium without feeling dizzy. Even climbing a ladder or stepping up on a chair to change a light bulb takes a lot longer than it should.
One of my favorite stories I’ve heard about myself being a wuss came when my family took a trip to Cedar Point, a nearby amusement park, when I was a boy. My parents wanted me to ride something besides the tea cups or the train I loved so much. They pleaded with me to ride the Demon Drop. Or, to get on some other roller coaster. Basically, any ride that made my stomach churn just thinking about it. After much coaxing and cajoling, I finally snapped. “Mama ain’t got no more money!” I didn’t realize that once the entrance fee is paid, the rides are free. They didn’t bother to explain it, either. I suppose they didn’t want to press the issue and have me freak out and cause a scene.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the plane ride my dad wants me to go on. I’ve already told him I’m not going, but he doesn’t seem to be accepting that just yet.
I think he should take my younger brother. I just hope my dad doesn’t propose a deciding coin toss. Like I said, I’ve seen La Bamba.