Saturday, February 25, 2006


The other day The Man and I were watching something on TV to do with the Olympics that involved back flips, and I told The Man that back flips were easier to do than forward flips. We used to have a trampoline when I was a kid, and I was good at flips.

I wonder if I could still do one now? I remember the last time I did a flip on a trampoline. It was about three years after I'd left home, and I hadn't been on a trampoline since I left, and nor was I a particularly athletic person. But I was sure I could do it, and I did. What happened afterwards wasn't quite what I expected, though.

I was living in Dunedin, and had been involved in a drama production. We finished the last performance, and had (of course) a last-night party, to which everybody who'd had anything to do with the play (and quite a few who hadn't) came. It was a good party, but a couple of hours into it a junior member of the cast suddenly announced that he was going to kill himself.

This was disturbing, to say the least. He was clearly extremely distressed, and people tried to talk to him, but he locked himself in the bathroom and refused to come out for quite a long time. Eventually he said that he would talk only to me and another member of the cast, an older man called Gordon. I didn't know Gordon or the young guy very well and was startled to be picked out like that, but of course I said I would talk with him. After a hasty discussion Gordon and I decided to take the young guy back to his flat, and he agreed.

What followed was another story. All I will say here is that the gothic hellhole that guy was living in was no place for a depressed person. Poor kid.

Anyway, after staying with him all night, we left at about nine in the morning, confident that he would be all right. (He was - we both followed up. In fact after the first few harrowing hours the three of us had had quite an interesting - and, in the end, cheerful - time.)

When I got home one of my flatmates was having breakfast with his girlfriend, and they asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with them to throw a ball around on the basketball court. They had recently been teasing me and telling me I was turning into an unfit and flabby typical student (this was true), so despite my lack of sleep I agreed, and off we went. I was still buzzing from the events of the night.

When we got to the gym we discovered that it was the day for the intellectually handicapped to use it. We could use it too, but we had to share the space with them. This just added to the fun, however, because it meant we had more people to play with. We threw balls around, did 'roly-polys' and fake ballet dancing, and a bunch of other interesting things. My head was gently humming from sleeplessness, and I felt high and happy. I don't think I had ever had so much fun at a gym.

And there was a trampoline.

I told my flatmate that I was pretty good on a trampoline, and he asked me how long it had been since I jumped on one.

"Oh, not that long, I said, airily. "I bet I can still do a flip."

A bunch of my new friends, who had been listening avidly, begged me to show them. So I got up on the trampoline, bounced a few times, and executed a perfect backward flip.

It felt weird. Remembering how wasn't a problem, but I hadn't done anything like that for a long time and it was like all the blood rushed from one end of my body to the other in a panic, and then back again. Whoosh! Whoosh! I felt a little dizzy, but also rather pleased with myself. I could still do it!

Everybody cheered and applauded wildly, and I bowed graciously. They wanted an encore, but I said I was pretty sure once was enough. I got off the trampoline and, surrounded by adoring fans, fainted clean away.

Coming round was a surreal experience. I wasn't sure where I was, and could hear people talking above me.

"She's dead."

"No, she isn't."

"Helloooo! Are you dead? Oooooh, yes, she's dead."

Hands were touching me tentatively, patting my face and arms and legs or whatever they could reach. When I opened my eyes I looked up into a circle of faces. All the mouths were open, some drooling, and everybody looked frightened. One was in tears. I thought it was the strangest dream I'd ever had. Then I realized I wasn't dreaming.

"I'm not dead," I announced.

This caused even louder and more excited celebration than my backward flip had.

It was MOST gratifying. I could make people happy just by waking up! A dozen or so pairs of hands helped me up, and wouldn't let me go until I had reassured them several times that I was fine now. When they saw that I was able to stand unaided they wanted to cuddle and dance with me instead. I didn't seem to be quite in control of my life. Everything felt strange and dreamlike, and not necessarily in a bad way.

My flatmate and his girlfriend weren't much use at all. To be fair, it had all happened very quickly, but still, they didn't need to laugh QUITE so hard. My flatmate was hooting and clutching his sides and had tears streaming down his face. His girlfriend was rolling around on the floor, gasping.

"You just VANISHED!" my flatmate said as he separated me from my dancing partners. "One moment you were there and then you just DISAPPEARED, and they were all bent over and saying you were dead. And then you suddenly popped up again and it was like the resurrection! With dancing and rejoicing and everything! God, that was funny."

He peered at me. "You look pale enough to be dead, though. We'd better take you home."

"I think I need a nap," I agreed, weakly. Then I roused myself a little. "But it was a good flip, wasn't it? You have to admit, IT WAS A GOOD FLIP."

It was also the last flip I ever did.


Radioactive Jam said...

But will there be a *next* flip?

Wossname the ice skating common tater used to do back flips in his on-ice performances. Always looked like 100% fun to me.

(great story!)

wendy said...

Great post..lotsa laughs have a way with words, you do. I know it's not very 'PC' to laugh at the thought of all those poor people drooling over you but really, that "Hellooo..are you dead?" just made me bust a gut laughing. Ta!

kenju said...

Too funny! I used to faint when I was pregnant, and the first time was when I went to midnight Mass with my husband and his family after we were married about 13 mos. Then I did it on top of the Empire state Bldg. in NYC while pregnant with my 3rd child. Glad that wasn't your situation!

storyqueen said...

what a good story! i love those extremely full days when you feel like EVERYTHING happens, in a good way. for the most part.

hope all is well with you!

She Weevil said...

I, too, used to do a bit of trampolining at school - and as far as those kind of things went I wasn't half bad. Sadly, it all came to an end the day another girl, putting the tramp away dropped half down on my hand. The idea of getting on one after that palled rather.

Robert said...

I'm a firm believer in keeping my ass below my head most of the time. You're very brave.

Pkchukiss said...

I did backflips once during a physical education lesson in secondary school.

We had a trampoline too, but only one lesson to play with it. I jumped on it, did a backflip, and somehow landed neck first on the trampoline. Though I was none the worst for wear, I didn't try doing backflips again.

It's amazing what we can get away with during our childhood days, eh?