A quickie explanation for this post: I only just realized that I refer in an earlier post to trapeze, and in fact I wrote something about the subject back in July. Trouble is, I wrote it in Word, left it on my hard drive in my computer, and forgot to switch it to this blog the next day. Oops.
Here’s what I wrote.
The New York Times is running an article with photos of a trapeze school in Manhattan that’s open to the paying public. The piece is well written and I empathize with the novices and especially the little kids who get scared up there on the platform. I also admire the athletes who work the rig. But after viewing the online photos part of my reaction was…
ARE YOU BULLSHITTING ME?
Let me explain.
Back in the late eighties/early nineties I flew trapeze for a few years. (That’s something Layla has never done in my imagination, so as with fencing I’m one up on her.) There was a rig in the YMCA here in Denver and a motley gang of us flew on it Wednesday and Friday nights; one or two members had even flown trapeze professionally. And we referred to it as flying and called ourselves flyers. Never, ever did we say that we trapezed or that our sport was trapezing, as the NY Times reports it.
The article also has a reference to Carrie Bradshaw on the trapeze in Sex and the City. Well, I saw that episode and it bugged the hell out of me. In an early scene Carrie is too afraid to jump off the platform. Very understandable. My first time up on a big rig in Indiana (as opposed to the smaller Denver one) I definitely got the heebie-jeebies. But in the final scene Carrie goes back to the trapeze and jumps off and swings while in a voiceover she babbles about letting go and friends being safety nets and taking the leap or some such inspirational drivel. My reaction?
For Christ’s sakes, she was wearing a harness! She couldn’t have fallen if she wanted to! Don’t preach to me about letting go and courage when you’ve got a fucking fail-safe back-up system right there around your waist!
And that’s what the photos in the NY Times also showed: amateur flyers wearing a harness, or, as the article explained, a thick leather belt with a safety line secured to it. Now with little kids I can understand the precaution; if that were my child up there I’d be sticking him or her in a harness myself. But the adults? Please. Except for visiting kids, on the very rare occasions any of us Denver Flyers used the harness was when we were attempting a dicey new trick, one that would bash us up if we screwed it up. Otherwise we did REAL flying and all our tricks without any harness. Whether we successfully executed a trick or missed connecting with the catcher, we still had a net to land in. So do the people on the New York rig.
Trapeze isn’t rock climbing after all; in that sport and some others a harness can be essential. Yes there are free climbers who work sans harness, sans ropes, and even sans any equipment, and while I highly respect their skills and freakish strength, I also think they’re batshit crazy.
Anyway, the moral of my story is: When you’ve removed all the risks from a sport then you’re not really performing that sport. You’re just faking it.
Layla would not approve.