"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, May 30, 2009

She flies through the air...

The spirit was not only willing, it was tantalized, bewitched, aroused and seduced. The body, however, took one look at the rock climbing wall that rose from the tenth deck of the cruise ship to tower two hundred feet above the sea and said, “The hell you say.”

All outfitted in soft leather climbing shoes, a helmet, and safety harness, I begged and pleaded and swore. I gritted my teeth. I locked my jaw in stubborn determination. I refused to admit I couldn’t do this. Nothing worked. The body said I should have asked first before I took on this latest challenge in a string of idiotic challenges. “I’ve had quite enough of your abuse,” it accused, then refused to allow my right shoulder to pull my bod up to the next red foothold fastened to the wall.

“Wimp,” I said.

“Sticks and stones,” it answered.

On a perfect late sunny afternoon, the massive cruise ship rolled gently as it crossed the open waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. This was my last chance. Early the next morning the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas would dock in Seattle, and this cruise would be over. My only challenge the next day would be wrestling my luggage off the ship, a strategy suggested for those of us with ground transportation reservations, because of rumors of a longshoreman’s strike. Scaling the rock wall was now or never.

The ironic thing was that the rock climbing wall is what sold me on this cruise. If not for that, and the writers’ workshop on board, I never would have gone on the cruise. I just have no interest in them, and thought I’d be bored silly.
“Use the red blocks,” said the young man holding the rope fastened through a pulley at the top of the wall, the rope that would belay me and keep me from crashing to the deck should I fall. That’s assuming I didn’t outweigh him, in which case I imagined him flying freeform over the wall in a most undignified manner as I plummeted down in front of the spectators at the aft end of the ship, including the guy who was recording this misadventure with my camera.

The red blocks, by the way, are for beginners, something that added insult to my failure to make it more than half way up the wall. A few minutes before I had watched a young girl—maybe eight years old—fail to make it even that far. It was a little consolation.

I knew my legs were strong enough, no doubt there. Where I had erred was in my failure to consider what would happen when my right leg and right arm were stretched to their max. That’s when I discovered another problem with being vertically challenged, pardon the pun. I mean, other than not being able to reach what’s on top of the refrigerator, or to see at parades, and always having to be in the front row when group photos are taken. What happened is that I was stuck when I reached the same point three times in a row.
I really did get higher than this, but I wasn't taking the pix, so I have no proof. I was two panels higher.
My right shoulder, worn out as it is, refused to pull my body up even an inch. I was stretched out so far I had no leeway to scootch down a bit and spring upwards, then scramble for any foothold within reach, regardless of color. I was stuck. I didn’t even consider using my left arm as that shoulder is a hundred times worse and has a nasty little habit of trying to slip out of its socket.

After the third time I was lowered to the deck, I gave up.

“Quitter,” I muttered. My left shoulder chimed in to let me know IT wasn't a quitter. It was going to be reminding me of this latest nonsense for some time to come.

“Don’t feel bad,” said a strapping, handsome attendant. “Out of more than two thousand passengers on this ship, only two hundred have tried. You’re one of the elite.”

Right behind me was that little girl who had failed a few minutes ago. I don’t know what she’d done in the intervening few minutes she’d been gone, but whatever it was I hoped they’d checked her ID for proof of age. This time she scampered up the rock wall, rang the bell, and floated to the deck with the greatest of ease, the daring young twit, I mean, girl on the Rhapsody of the Seas….

1 comment:

  1. Good girl, Gully. I've climbed rock walls like that a couple of times and you're right, it's not easy. You deserve a gold medal for getting half way up, especially if both of your shoulders give you trouble.

    I laughed out loud as I read, especially hard over your fears of sending the young fellow holding your life line over the wall.

    (Look for your name in my latest post).