A nice launch pad, but the run out leaves something to be desired.
I have a cut on the top of my head. It is about 2 inches long, not deep, and is emitting that dull throb typical of small head injuries. I did not get this tiny dinger from a bar fight or bear attack or endoing my bike. No, I got it from sending it.
Allow me to explain. “Send it” is a ubiquitous term for going big on a given execution, mainly attributed to getting some sort of air, and doing it with style and grace. See this definition in the Urban Dictionary (the first one, not the second one). I love catching air, it is a minor obsession, and it doesn’t matter the context or the altitude or the amplitude; I’m just into it. From 30-foot cliffs and 50-foot booters, a rarity these days, to bunny hops and ollies, more frequent; I’m just stoked to get high. Wait, what?
Back to the cut on my head. This enthusiasm for leaving the solid Earth for even the briefest of moments has manifested itself into a habit that gives me great pleasure, but has also left me injured, mangled and embarrassed on several occasions. This admittedly sophomoric and small-scale activity is “sending” the last few stairs.
The stairs need not have any special characteristics other than they go down, elevating me above my intended landing zone. I need not be in any type of mood or attire to accomplish my goal. And I need not pay that close attention to my surroundings when I lock into the zone and launch. This is where my air gets me into trouble.
The current dried blood on my scalp is from banging my noggin on the edge of the landing above in the stairwell of our BRO offices. I managed to stick the landing with only a minor wobble, but it got me thinking about this peculiar habit.
A part of it is showing off, I guess, although I’ll never admit it. It’s also an instinct thing, and is really not limited to stairs, although they are definitely the most fun. This past weekend at a wedding, I was exiting the elevator into the lobby in full wedding attire when not 10 feet in front of me was a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign. What better time than to take two steps and leap over said sign, throwing in a mute grab? None is the appropriate answer. Well, except for the wet floor, but as I said, that’s the part that can get me into trouble.
I’ve been doing this a long time, farther back than I can remember, but there are a few that stand out starkly from the rest. I once sent the last 10 stairs at the back of the Mangy Moose in Jackson, WY (the stairs by the stage, in the bar not the restaurant) in full winter gear and a pack stuffed with PBR in a mad claustrophobic dash for the exit. I stomped that landing and even got a couple cheers from the crowd…just before I shoved all of them on my way to the door.
An example I’m less proud of happened following a Denver Boncos game at Mile High. Finding myself with a gap in the crowd as we filed out of the stadium, I grabbed both railings and attempted to swing myself, Olympic parallel bars style, over the final 7-8 stairs (little fuzzy on this one) to the landing below. Obviously, I misjudged it horribly and clipped the last step, sending me careening over the guardrail to the screams of onlookers, one of whom was my buddy’s mom who had gotten us the tickets. Came out of that one with only a bruised ego and a silent car ride home.
Once I accidentally sent the last FLIGHT of stairs HEAD FIRST at my fraternity house after whiffing on a very aggressive high-five. I’ll thank the beer for getting me out of that one alive. I’ll also curse it for my inhibited motor skills and poor judgment at that particular moment: I never miss high-fives, no matter how aggressive. There are also many fine examples of stuck landings and epic bails from my enthusiastic Freestyle Walking days of yore, before parkour took over, gave it a less cool name, and ruined it for amateurs.
As with anything, the difference between glory and disaster is pretty thin, especially when you push the envelope. Five-stair 180 onto a crowded concrete sidewalk? Not my finest moment, and one the scare on my hip won’t let me forget. Luckily, the big guy had a wild swing or I’d have another more prominent reminder. Some people!
Essentially it comes down to execution. Can you hit the window, and more importantly, can you do it with style? Sometimes you do and sometimes you end up in a pile on the floor with people laughing at you. That’s life I guess, but I’m not going to let a couple scrapes and bruises keep me from doing it. It’s the little things that keep it spicy and keep you sane. I’ll keep sending it until the hard landings catch up with me, or until the next big dude who doesn’t like getting barrel-rolled by a guy in mid-flight, rocking a tuxedo, catches up with me. Whichever comes first.