Alcohol is bad mmmkay? I believe Mr. Mackey is onto something.
I have had a few great years of skydiving and loved everything about it, but it can be a vortex that will bleed you dry if you aren’t careful or disciplined. First, it is very expensive even if you are just renting the gear. Average cost to get your license is about $2,000 (doing the AFP program). Then, tack on another $2 – $4,000 for the cost of gear, annual maintenance, and that’s getting some of it used. Then, the cost of an average jump ticket is about $16 – $20 (a jump ticket is simply a fee you pay to secure your seat on a plane ride up, typically called a “load”). That’s expensive enough, but the partying that takes place after the plane is put in the hanger at the end of the evening adds to it rather quickly. All that aside, it’s an amazing experience and an awesome sport. I have about 300 jumps and have jumped from planes of various sorts, hot air balloons, and one helicopter…never had a bad jump.
I wish I could say the same for experiences at the close of the evening. When the plane is parked, they say, “Beer light is on.” Usually, when the plane is at the right altitude and the spot has been confirmed, a light that is fixed by the door typically turns from red to green. The first group out will typically yell, “GREEN LIGHT!” That’s the cue to get out of the door quickly so that the rest of the jumpers can get out in time to have a good spot to land on the ground (which hopefully is the at the dropzone from which we left). So to call, “BEER LIGHT!” means, it’s time to bust out the alcohol, the cigarettes, the music, etc. If you’re ever looking for hard core partiers, visit your local dropzone after sunset. You won’t be disappointed. Most of the sober and/or sane jumpers go home. Mostly staff and their significant others stay behind and party with bonfires, private parties at their trailers, pool side, etc. Some have a couple of beers and go home. Some wake up in compromising situations in various locations of the dropzone facility. The goal is to appear clean, sober, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before the Wo-Fo’s arrive (those who have not or rarely ever jump). Good times indeed.
So, the guy in question was truly a gorgeous guy. He was a year older than me, and at the time, that was pretty young (25/26ish). I never knew what he did for a living, but he sported a BMW and sometimes came in on his Harley. He had dark hair, blue eyes, and was just really pretty. He was kind of unique because although he was pretty and always had his hair fixed (even after a day of jumping under a helmet), but he was also really good with machines, common sense, and motors. We had been friends for a long time…me, him, and my long-time boyfriend. Well, me and long-term boyfriend were pretty fresh in our break-up and we had kind of been flirting for a long while.
He had recently purchased a RV to leave at the dropzone so that he didn’t have to drive all the way back home at night and come back early. Now he could just drive over to the RV park on the dropzone and drink or do whatever and go to sleep. He was a pretty “normal” guy. He was obviously financially secure and had no children or wife (or ex-wife), but he wasn’t the sort to brag. He invited me to his trailer to have a few drinks and watch a movie. I was really pretty excited about getting to know him better.
I got to his new RV (and wow, it was nice), but found that several others were coming over, too. Bummer, but hey, we were all pretty good friends – so really, it was going to be fun regardless of who came. There was about 6 of us that went inside. He opened his loaded fridge and began to pull out all the good stuff. I mean, he could almost run a full bar from this place. I didn’t even know he drank alcohol… and once the drinks were flowing, it became pretty obvious he really didn’t drink much. I remember there was one of those picture frames that scrolled through digital pictures…I watched them scroll by as everyone watched the movie – I didn’t really care about what was on the TV, I was more trying to get a feel for who this guy was. I began to see a theme on his picture frame, mostly me.
There were pictures from when we graduated our class and did our first jump together. That seemed so long ago. He had one of the utterly expensive helmets with the built in camera. Basically you bite this bit and the picture is taken. I cannot tell you how many pictures he had of us together in freefall. It was really neat and very flattering. He was seated next to me on the couch and he must have followed my gaze. He leaned over and said, “I love photographing you in freefall – your eyes looking back at me during freefall makes me feel good – they are beautiful.” Okay, whether it’s a line or not, it most definitely worked. I don’t think it was a line – the guy literally had at least 20 pictures of me in freefall – I guess I had forgotten how many jumps we’d made together.
The group was getting sleepy (or just too drunk) and began to thin out. It was me, him, and a girlfriend that jumped with as pretty regularly as well, I’ll call her Sue. Now Sue knew the score and there was no question she was going to make this into some sort of competition. I knew she’d had a thing for him for a while – and I guess she thought if she hung out long enough, she’d prevent chemistry from bubbling over. Eh, I didn’t mind anymore – I was sleepy, too.
Yes, I had been drinking. I had been drinking a lot. And even though I was probably well beyond an appropriate buzz, I had my wits. But wow, they were dulled. I was not much of a fan of being inhibited back then, and a little alcohol just made it worse.
He had a small bedroom in this place, and he offered to let me sleep there and he’d sleep on the couch. It was the polite and gentleman thing to do no doubt. I went into the bed to crash – I needed it. I was disappointed that Sue was still out there with him, but I was ready to hang it up… I was too sleepy and too intoxicated to care much anymore.
I was asleep. Sound asleep. I was awakened by Sue crawling into the bed with me. She made a comment to him to the effect of it not being fair – that she had seen him first. Awkward. Maybe if I just pretended to sleep a little more, it’d blow over. I liked Sue – she was a fun, spunky, pretty girl and we had a good deal in common. I didn’t want her feelings to be hurt – so I was going to avoid both of them like the plague for the rest of the night.
But, you know the best laid plans of mice and men…
I was awakened again by him and Sue. I was in my PJs (a weekend at the DZ typically required it whether you were hanging around for the beer light or crashing in the bunks to catch the first load of the day). My PJs didn’t really consist of much, but I wasn’t exactly planning on the events to play out as they did. Sue had drawn back my covers and said something to the effect that he was right, I was gorgeous…and it became incoherent again. I wish they’d just go to sleep already. The third time I was awakened again, but not because of noise. It was him, and he had cuddled up behind me and we were spooning. Nice. But I couldn’t hear Sue any longer.
Trying to keep it PG13…
We decided to bake cookies. I like cookies. I figured Sue was gone, so I could have all the cookies I wanted with him. Turns out Sue likes cookies, too, and she hadn’t left or fallen asleep as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, she liked cookies so much that she decided to join in our baking session. I had never baked cookies with another woman before, but I’ll try anything once. So, well all baked cookies until it was almost sunrise….we ate a lot and fell asleep.
When I woke up, I was reminded that baking cookies after drinking too much alcohol isn’t really as fun the next day. Sue had already left…I hadn’t hear the plane go up, so I hadn’t missed the first load. I searched for my clothes I would wear for the day while he slept. I just wanted to leave – I felt a little awkward. I must had woke him up or he was already awake – but he liked to start the day off with cookies. So, we baked another batch. He was full and wanted to go back to sleep – he tried to convince me to do the same…but I declined.
I got dressed, got to the hanger, and saw the plane still parked. I went into the locker room to shower and then found the coffee pot. Still no Sue. I wasn’t sure what I would say to her or even act around her – I wondered what she was thinking that morning. I had a vicious headache, but the morning was crisp and not a cloud in the sky.
The first load had about 15 people on it. I was doing a solo jump – rather atypical of my usual routine – and I was jumping without a helmet – just goggles. I was the last one off the plane that load – and it was wonderful. My damp hair was tangled by the 120 mile per hour wind as flew carelessly in the sky. There was no one to photograph me, no group to coordinate with, no break off altitude….just me. It was liberating and empowering.
Last out and last to land. From my canopy ride down, I saw Sue’s car leaving the dropzone. I got to avoid the awkwardness and was thankful. He came to the DZ later that afternoon – looking flawless as usual. We spoke off the DZ at a lunch for two. He asked me what I was thinking, if I was disappointed, if I wanted to announce our relationship to our group of friends, etc. He said that even though he’d always wanted to bake cookies with two girls, he felt that it detracted from what we were originally hoping for. That is exactly how I felt.
We went for a long ride on his Harley, and came back before the beer light went on. I owed it to him and myself to be honest. No. I didn’t want a relationship with him – not for any other reason that I felt our first encounter at baking was tainted by a drunken idea that seemed pretty great at the time (and yes, it was great at that time). But to try to go from that to a serious boyfriend/girlfriend type thing just felt odd. I didn’t want Sue to feel like she was used and I knew she’d feel that way because she really liked him. If we just stayed friends, we could all feel awkward together instead of just one of us feeling awkward.
I had seen Sue many, many times and had many, many jumps with her. All 3 of us graduated together and we were tight friends up until that point. I never saw her again after that night. As for him, I saw him a few more times, but eventually, he sold his RV to a staff member and I never saw him again, either.
So, it may be hard to see why this one got ranked #4, and probably even harder to explain. I guess had things gone differently that night, maybe we’d had a relationship. Maybe we wouldn’t, but we’d had all stayed friends. But, unfortunately, booze and bad judgment ruined really good friendships. For what it’s worth, the cookies were pretty great…okay, they were really awesome, but they weren’t as good as the friendships we’d had for two years.