Mount Hood bungee tower's "Walk of shame" There are no refunds, so those who pay — to borrow a phrase from the Van Halen song — might as well jump. But it can be intimidating to stand up there looking straight down at the huge air bag on the ground far below. Some take a long time to attain the right state of mind for the jump.
Or to forget it and take the walk of shame.
"One guy did seven jumps in one day," said Greg Aldrich, a manager at the adventure park. "People are really confident after one time. But I've also had the burliest of men go up there and walk back down. We give everybody a lot of time. We're part motivational speakers and life coaches up there."
Rory Mehlman, a 27-year-old from Brightwood, decided she would try it. Her harness clipped onto the bungee cord, she stood on the edge of the platform, trying to summon the courage to leap.
"Come on, Rory!" her friends shouted from below.
"Why did I do this?" she asked no one in particular. "Is it better if you close your eyes or not?"
Finally, she said solemnly, "I can't do it."
With that, she stepped away from the brink and made the long, slow walk down the steps of the metal tower.
That would make them some of the least expensive life coaches and motivational speakers on the market. Actually, being a motivational speaker sounds like a fun job. But that's not what I'm posting about today.
This story took me back to the summer of 1992. I stopped outside of Chicago on my way from New York to Helena, MT. I had some friends to visit in the area, and we decided to go bungee jumping.
It cost about $80. The jump was from a bucket hung from a crane over a lake. As we rode the bucket up, my main thought wasn't that the rope would fail, or that I would hit the water. I was worried about swinging wildly and smacking into the crane boom. After a few tense moments, we reached the top.
I stood on the edge of the bucket and looked down. It was a lot further than I thought. I began to feel this was a big mistake, and seriously considered riding the bucket down, instead of the elastic. But I knew the people I was there with. And they knew me. And we would all remember this. So I calling on every last ounce of male ego, I decided I would be too embarrassed to ride back down. To save my pride, I stepped a little further out on the edge of the bucket and jumped.
I attempted to swan dive, but, since I have all the grace of several large stones, I instead jumped straight forward with my hand held stupidly above my head, like Wylie Coyote dancing as a crazed ballerina pirouetting off the edge of the cliff.
Like the Coyote, though, I was going down, silly moves or not.
As I plummeted toward the water, I let fly a spray of expletives that even I had never heard before. At moments like that, the minds dips into the Jungian world of the collective unconscious lexicon to grab just the right phrase. It failed.
While all this was going on, my mind went a different way and two thoughts occurred to me.
- "I though the world would look more upside down than it does."
- "If I ever decide to kill myself, it won't be by jumping off of something high."