Doing our best “Top Gun” imitation we walk toward the tiny single engine prop plane. I try to act brave for my son, not wanting him to be afraid of what we are about to do. He’s laughing at me. He’s completely at ease and confident. I pee my pants a little bit. There are three men that hold our fates in their hands. Pilot boy. Stoner Dude. Confident guy. My partner in near death experiences is confident guy. We climb into the plane and begin to taxi down the runway while the dude and the guy begin to strap themselves to our backs with more chains, ropes and harnesses. In place of a door on the plane to enter and exit through there is a burgundy burlap curtain which doesn’t attach to anything. I’m asked if I would mind using my boot to hold down the curtain during our flight. I stretch out my right leg toward the hole in the plane and hold down the flap with my boot. Confident guy and I are seated on the floor behind the pilot. I look over my shoulder at my son who is sitting on the floor in between the legs of stoner dude. There should be a co-pilot seat where my son is plopped, but there is none. Next to Sterling and dude is what used to be a window, but somehow over the years has become a breeding ground for duct tape. I inquire about the duct tape. The pilot yells at me, “Don’t touch the duct tape”.
We’re up in the air now. The plane gaining elevation over the tiny airport. “Why does your watch have only one dial?” I ask my conjoined twin that I am now seriously attached to. He answers it’s not a watch, but an instrument that tells you how high in the sky you are. The dial has three colors. Yellow, green and red. We’re in the yellow rising quickly to green. The plane grows ever more shaky the higher we climb. As the dial continues to rise into the green I begin to hyperventilate. This is a bad idea. What was I thinking? I look to the rear and find my gaze fixated on a hole in the back of the plane. This one has no burlap and no duct tape. Just a hole. “Okay, it’s time to go. We’re going to scoot over to the door now. I want you to drop your knees over the side of the plane and wait for my signal. I’ll count to three and on three I want you to curl up into a ball and push yourself out of the plane. I’ll be attached to you the whole time. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”. I politely ask confident guy “Are you fucking crazy?” But, staying on the plane which is now blowing around like a balloon in the early afternoon sky, doesn’t seem to be a better alternative to jumping. I do as I’m told as I look into my son’s eyes. Again he’s laughing. “Okay, here we go. One…”. There’s no two, no three, only one. And, I’m falling and I’m screaming and I’m yelling, “Fuuuuuuuck me”. We fall for what seems an eternity then I feel a jerk as the first parachute opens up. I calm down and begin to look around for my son who jumped right after we did. I see him doing summersaults through the air and laughing hysterically. This time I totally pee my pants. We fall for another twenty minutes, or maybe it was two.
The landing is smooth. I put my legs out straight in front of me and land on the lap of confident guy with my son and stoner dude falling from above. Everyone is safe and all in one piece. My son is still laughing.
Now, that’s how you celebrate a sweet sixteen birthday.