Dangling in Midair

I watched as two men tied my wife with thick rope, and I watched as she dangled about 40 feet above the ground. Upside down. In public. As others watched.

I’m not sure even the Kama Sutra describes anything this kinky.

In case you’re wondering, my wife is not a circus performer or an aerialist of any kind. At the time of her dangling, she was an English teacher.

Probably, I should back up.

My wife has always been a lot more adventurous than I am, the kind of person who works for Peace Corps in the jungles of South America, or who hikes the coast of the Pacific Northwest on Outward Bound, or who without fear of electrocution installs a dining room dimmer switch.

I know: I’m a lucky man.

So when Carolyn was invited by her students and by an outdoor recreation teacher to go rappelling from the tower at our university, she thought it’d be a hoot. I myself had no wish to die, but I went with her for supportwhat you might call ground support.

So I stood below as Carolyn climbed the ladder to the platform. Then the outdoor rec teacher and an assistant made a rope “seat” for Carolyn, which is a polite way of saying that they made a very tight rope bikini bottom for her. I don’t know exactly how to express my feelings as I watched my wife being manhandled in this way. Words fail me. We’d been married over a year, but we’d never done anything this intimate.

Finally, Carolyn was ready for the moment of truth. She was tied in and someone was on belay. Holding onto the rope, she stepped off the platform backwards. At which point her head went down, her feet went up, and she was completely vertical, her back flat against the boards. She had a death-grip on the rope.

“Hmm,” I thought. “Is that what was supposed to happen?”

Based on Carolyn’s frozenness and on the energetic activity of the others on the platform, I could tell it was likely this was not what was supposed to happen. Immediately, the outdoor rec teacher lay down on the platform so that his head was just above Carolyn’s feet, and I could hear that he was talking to her in low, soothing tones.

Can you imagine how odd it is to watch something like this in silence? I could have yelled out to her, but I had no idea what was going on, and it was clear she needed the help of an expert.

As I learned later, Carolyn’s upside-downness was the result of her not being tied correctly. Because of the belay line, she was in no danger of falling, so what the rec teacher was telling her was “Carolyn, you need to let go of the rope. As soon as you do, you’ll pop right up and be able to rappel down the face of the tower normally.” After a long pause, Carolyn said, “What are my other options? Because there’s no way I’m letting go of this rope.” And he said, “You have to let go of the rope. There are no other options.” And she said, “I am not letting go of this rope.” And he made his voice as calm and comforting and soothing as possible and said, “Let go, Carolyn. You have to let go.”

And I watched as this man, right before God and everybody, tried to seduce my wife: “Let go, Carolyn. Just let go.”

He told her, “If you don’t let go of the rope, eventually you’ll pass out, and then you’ll let go, and then you’ll pop right up, and everything will be OK. But why not let go now? Trust me.”

“I did trust you,” she said. “And look where it got me.”

Did she force her courage to the fore, abandon common sense, and relinquish her grip? Did she hang on until she fainted? Did her husband punch the recreation teacher in the face?

I’m gonna leave you dangling.

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8 thoughts on “Dangling in Midair”

  1. If an English teacher can’t turn things upside-down, I don’t know who can.

  2. Sounds like a Wiley Coyote moment.
    Having rock climbed it sounds like where the harness is attached to the rope is below her center of balance.

    Or she was holding on to the rope.

    Have you found a new wife yet?

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