August 20, 2010

What the Hell was I Thinking?


Home of the ever popular mall. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. And on my first day off from the Fringe Festival I had the opportunity to see it for the first time as an adult. An experience I was going to share with my sister, brother in law and nephew no less. Before meeting up with them I decided to get there early just so I could take it in on my own.

I have never seen consumerism in action like this mall displayed. To give a few of my local friends and family a familiar layout, the thing is like our Polo Park mall, but multiplied by 4. The mall is laid out like a great big “X” and at the end of each “X” there is another mall that goes all the way right to left. And believe me, it ranges from upper crust Like Polo to Kildonan Place mall. Yup, there is a ghetto within this mall!

And to be honest, I think they cheated with the whole claim to being the largest mall in the world. I don’t know any malls back home that have a freaking water park, an amusement park, two mini golf courses, a freaking Pirate ship, an aquarium, hotel and casino in it. These do not fall into a mall must have category, k? But still, if you strip those away from the rest of the mall, it still is impressive.

Impressive how one single mall can still fit two of the same store within it. Starbucks? Two. Second Cup? Two. Boston Pizza? Two. EB Games? Two. La Senza? Two. Shoppers Drug Mart? Okay one, but I can’t remember all the other doubles, there were just way too many. Plus I was distracted by the Pirate ship and the arena sized ice rink. But my biggest surprise was that they had constructed not only a water park and carnival rides, but they offered indoor bungee jumping. Something my brother in law discovered.

Many of you don’t know that I am deathly afraid of heights. In Toronto I could barely contain my bowels as I stood over top of the glass floor at the CN tower. And in planes, I am white knuckled during each and every take off. So naturally when my brother in law suggested we do the bungee jump, my reply was obviously, “FUCK YEAH!”

Wait, WHAT?!?!

Tell me I did not just agree to this. Two weeks after the agreement, here I am in the West Edmonton mall, meeting up with the family and seeing my brother in laws face light up with excitement over this experience. Little did he know, I was secretly hoping he had forgotten or they had looked over their finances and decided against the idea. Nope, he’s all in.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front of a couple of 20-nothing surfer wannabes as they lazily explained what we were going to be going through. I’m sorry but watching these guys roll their eyes as they go through the procedure of explaining how not to die is the last thing I wanted to see. Now all I can think of is the scenario where I jump and one says to the other, “Wait, did you tie the other end to the cable, dude?”

Now, we were being led up this catwalk which has little grates so you can see just how high up you’re going. This is so the instructor boys can occasionally look back and laugh at the expression on your face. Cause it’s usually one of, “Fuck I’m gonna die, fuck I’m gonna die, fuck I’m gonna die, fuck I’m gonna die.”

Before you know it, you are in a small caged area high above the massive wave pool below, and you can see just how dirty the ceilings really are. Chris was the first one of the group to take the plunge. I would describe his experience and what it looked like to see him there one moment and then jumping to his death the next, but as I found out afterwards, our experiences were almost identical. So here’s the way it went for me.

They opened this creaky little gate and allowed me to say a prayer before I stepped forward to certain death. They took hold of the harness I am wearing, which is the most unflattering garment I have ever seen. Essentially it is a bunch of vinyl straps that only serve to cut off circulation to your feet so you feel paralyzed on the spot, but more so, to strap your crotch into a position where nothing is left to the public’s imagination. To add injury to insult there is a foot long cable that hangs down in front of your public display, as if mocking you because you are not as big as IT is. This is what the boys in charge grab onto to lead you onto the platform.

Yeah close your eyes and picture that for a moment. I am a humble man now.

So then they attach what looks like Snuffleupagus’ nose to my crotch and throw it off the edge. Chris told me later that this was the moment that freaked him out the most. (He thought the Snuffy nose was going to yank him off the plateau before he was ready). They then lead me to the edge of the platform and told me to bring my toes to the edge.

I inched my way forward, and I got to the point where I felt I went a little too far. What I mean is I went as far to the edge as I felt comfortable with but my big toe went out just a little farther. Just far enough to go right over the edge. It went from solid ground to open air. That was it. That was the moment I started my mantra of, “Fuckmefuckmefuckmefuckme!”

Then these two yahoos who were basically comatose while explaining how to survive this experience came to life. They started to yell and whistle and scream for the people below to egg me on and jump to my death. “You people are sick!” Is what I should have said, but that would have taken me away from my mantra, and that was the only thing keeping me from pissing myself.

Now, before you do something as retarded as bungee jumping, you picture yourself as this hero who conquered gravity. The guy who laughed in the face of physics and said, “Boing!” And you imagine that when it came time to jump off, you would do this brave Jesus Christ Pose, Superman jump and swan dive to the bottom. But what happens, is you lean forward, see the pool below and tuck into a kind of fetal position as you fall off the edge and scream like a motherfucker all the way down.

And I have to tell you all, my first thought as I felt the wind rushing past my face and I went soaring back to earth was, “Jesus…I need to go on a diet!” I’m not even kidding. Like that’s my biggest concern now? Finally the rope tightens and I do the sling shot back up. That was the best and worst feeling ever. The best because once I got back up to the top again, I really did feel like Superman. And I beat my chest and howled like Tarzan. And yet it was also the worst, because I had to fall back down again, just like before, shitting myself the entire time.

And as a bonus, as soon as the rope tightened on the second time down, I realized all the blood in my entire body shot right into my head. After it was all said and done, sure enough, a blood vessel exploded in my right eye. That’s gonna be oh so sexy when I’m on stage. But truth be told, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had since this trip began. And it was something that me and my bro-in-tow will remember till the day we’re both stricken with Alzheimer’s, and we find ourselves doing it all over again.

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