Slovenian Clouds Won't Catch You Or Break Your Fall
The Fiery Furnace
Just before the 2016 Elections, I was sifting both candidates like wheat, in hopes that whatever remained would be good enough to rise as dough. The thing is, as I am not much of a baker I wasn’t sure what appliance or utensil one would use for sifting, so instead I decided to chuck both candidates into a heated furnace and see what good was hidden inside their molten remains.
I must remember to do this individually next time to avoid a mix up as I had some trouble deciphering which was which. Right away I had a problem voting for a woman. It’s not that I believe their place is maintaining the structure of any nuclear family. It’s just that unless Hillary Clinton was going to do something that no other president has ever done; like lowering the drinking age or making Dr.King’s dream -the part about putting children on the moon or whatever- a reality. I saw no need to refer to Bill as the first Knight, or first man, or whatever title he would have assumed.
Bra or Brazier? I sometimes confuse the two.
The golden blob that was left of Donald Trump, ruined my furnace. The furnace belonged to my grandmother (God bless her soul) and would need replacing before winter. Perhaps it was time for central heating or, maybe I could get one of those fancy braziers, I saw in Slovenia. Yes a brazier, along with providing warmth, it would certainly come in handy for roasting smores. Hmm smores… White, fluffy, bra, chocolate, sandwich, crust Hmm. Sorry, lost my train of thought…
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Slovenia. Slovenia is where I was investigating rumors of the now First Lady’s past whoredoms. Rumors I think I awoke one morning after a surfeit of libations and began to spread myself. That morning happened to be Election day, the day I should have been exercising my right as a new American to take part in the electoral process (after fifteen years of naturalization, I still use the term “new American” as a way of disavowing my participation should any outcome turn autocratic and dictatorial).
The Heimlich Maneuver
To make a long story short, I voted for Trump to recompense any damage I feared my stories about his wife might have caused his campaign. I knew Hillary would win so why not throw the man a bone. I guess we all know how that turned out.
Speaking of bones, I was choking on one back in Slovenia as I was fighting back my stomach pangs with a delicious bowl of bobici. This is soup, with chunks of meat and equal parts bone and gristle. A Gentlemen ran to my aid and performed an alternate version of the Heimlich Maneuver which involved a swift kick to the spine and a cuff to the throat. He was also kind enough to give me a lift back from the hospital, which is located on the very top of a hill in Izola.
We exchanged words. Football, Europe’s damn immigrants, and skydiving. The latter he kept pushing as if he were some kind of salesman, whose job it was to convince complete strangers that their lives would be so much more complete if they would take a trip culminating with a jump from an airplane midflight. I told him I had never “been up.”
It is here he mentioned Sola Paranoja, a skydiving company that operates at the Aerodrome Portoroz or Portoroz Airport for you native English.
He handed me a phone and I made a reservation with a gentleman named Ales, who had the soothing voice of a doctor who was about to reveal the cancer growing in someone’s balls. I arrived at the airfield on a beautiful Saturday morning. Years of alcohol abuse has left me forgetting what Saturday mornings looked like. In fact, the last memory I have of a Saturday morning is one of my mother calling me from her job (graveyard shift at the hospital) to tell me to get my ass down to the supermarket when I was seventeen. It was my job to help her with the groceries, we didn’t have a car, so I was the grocery cart she would use to push all the way home.
Years of carrying frozen chicken and milk jugs have left me with a pretty sturdy frame, something I hadn’t noticed until I met Ales. I stand a foisting six feet tall when I am wearing my Nike Air Force Ones.
Ales’ head rested on my chest during our introductory hug. I guess that’s how they greet people in Slovenia. The warmth one feels from salutations quickly turned to dread. I couldn’t understand how a man diminutive to my stature could possibly rip a parachute with me in tandem. Tandem is skydiving jargon for an amateur who is harnessed to an experienced skydiving instructor. Parachute is skydiving jargon for… well, parachute.
Ales and company
Ales was kind and funny, though I am not sure jokes about being splattered over runway asphalt are at all appropriate when attempting to coax a first-timer to jump out of an airplane.
He gave me a tour of the operation; a giant tent set up on the grassy striction outside the airport. Young men and women were busying themselves with paperwork and furling canopies neatly into backpacks.
A young woman who looked like she was better suited for work at your neighborhood Hooters, sat me down and questioned me.
When was the last time I consumed alcohol?
Is the booger hanging in my left nostril a side effect of profuse cocaine use?
When was the last time my heart stopped beating? Did I seek and receive medical attention for said stoppage?
I answered, for breakfast, no and never, respectively.
Note: it is best not to consume any alcoholic beverages for up to twelve hours prior to jumping out of a plane, or taking on any other taxing activity such as scuba diving, bear wrestling and the like.
After the formalities, I met Matjaz, the man I would trust to pull the ripcord to the parachute as he rode atop me piggyback, falling at neck-breaking speeds above the Adriatic.
I was immediately at ease at the sight of Matjaz. A robust, strapping fellow who spends his days off shucking mussels and eating raw pork. If I had any hesitations at this point they would have been quickly allayed at this fact, but I had none because I was still drunk.
I donned a flight suit that left little to the imagination, and after a few exercises at his lead, we made our way over to a revving Piper Seneca, a small plane that seats five when configured for skydiving.
I must say in all this I never felt an inkling of nervousness, perhaps it was Matjaz and Ales’ ability to make this seem like a walk in the park. Or perhaps It was because they told me I was about to be there first black jumper(they have had two previous jumpers but they were Canadians-they don’t count)whatever it was I expected to be far more jittery than I was at that moment.
The plane took off over Croatia which is right on the Slovenian border, before circling back over the Adriatic sea, allowing for quaint views of Italian cities Trieste and Monfalcone. Over the drop zone, the pilot gave the signal, and the first team disappeared outside the airplane door. Then Matjaz steered me to the open door, where we sat on the edge with our legs dangling beneath the plane. It was here I realized I was really about to go through with this, and still, I remained unfazed by shaky nerves or fear.The wind rushed across my face and, I could smell the chill of the Alps in the distance. Then without a word Matjaz pushed forward and, my heart skipped with fear as we plunged towards the Earth.
How on Earth did I get here, or shall I say how in Heaven? Oh yes, an airplane, the very airplane that was now speeding past above my feet. The freefall lasted about thirty seconds, much less than they do in my nightmares. When Matjaz pulled the cord, sound returned to my ears and all fear was gone. It was in that moment that I planned to live my life with more urgency, and less carelessness. I would begin with buying a new car, one with seatbelts. Using Q-tips instead of a screwdriver to clean my ears and perhaps chewing my food a little slower, lest I choke. After all, I may not have the Mayor of Portoroz(that bloke with the Heimlich) to save my life next time. Ah, yes politicians, they are everywhere selling everything, just like Trump, whom I wish to thank for the opportunity to live on the wild side. If I could do it all over again though, I would skip the ballots and just spend Election day up in the air. Sola Paranoja,Slovenia