Monday, June 29, 2009

The Parachutist In Love

For E.G.

The Parachutist’s ripcord is malfunctioning. He is aware of this piece of information, and finds it duly disturbing.
You see, were the Parachutist on ground, in his plane, lying in his bed, sitting on the toilet, eating eggplant parmesan at his favorite Italian restaurant, bedding a young vixen, bedding a few young vixens (one slightly older than the other), practicing the clarinet, making a shopping list, or even playing volleyball at the beach (again with young vixens), becoming aware of such a piece of information would be easily resolvable. Being however that he is currently falling from a very great height, the information about the ripcord is pertinent.

His instinct is to curse, but not being the swearing type, he decides to pray instead: Praying turns out to be harder to do mid-free fall than one might expect, so he curses.
Being a person who has read a book or two by Deepak Chopra, he attempts meditation: He is going to die. This is evident. He attempts to clear his mind by focusing on the snowy mountain tops that cap the quickly disappearing horizon. Also difficult: Consider G-forces.

What about the man in the colored jumpsuit with goggles and helmet?

The Parachutist’s favorite joke is one that usually only garners polite laughs when he tells it:
Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two: one to hold the giraffe by the neck, the other to fill the bathtub up with clocks.

He has a picture of his nephew riding a horse on his coffee table at home. The picture was taken by his brother, on the boy’s twelfth birthday. The boy’s name is Cody. The Parachutist has tried to teach the boy how to play chess several times and has failed. Once, when Cody was about six, a little marble pawn showed up in his stool. The Parachutist has quit trying to teach the boy chess.

The Parachutist closes his eyes, takes a breath, and then opens them back up again. The earth is very beautiful, and very small from where he is. It is getting larger quickly, which is vaguely alarming. The Parachutist decides it would be better to misinterpret this alarm as exhilaration. ‘Whoop!’ he says.

He’s over a piney region of Alaska. The tree line spreads far and wide, and there are mountains in the distance. The Parachutist tries to imagine himself crashing down through the evergreens. Every snapping twig that he foresees, were he to write a blog about this episode, he may call it ‘Returning to the Earth in a very real way’, and the post would be very spiritual. The Parachutist is a very spiritual person in his own way. He has read books by Deepak Chopra, and always plays Prince music when he beds young vixens.

The Parachutist is pleased with how easily he turned the whole tragic affair into something more philosophical.

He imagines the earth wrapping around him, his body becoming thin and embedded, and he begins to relax his muscles as it all becomes very near, the whistling becoming increased, and the mountain view becoming out of sight. He thinks about the terrain, and tries to picture it without trees. A parking lot. A desert. An ocean. A pile of feathers.

To the ordinary wild porcupine, the grass is gentle and high, and the soil is agreeably moist. It easily absorbs the creature’s small footprints as it pads and sniffs it’s way through the sweet smelling forest, looking for whatever it is that porcupines look for.

Some kind of small bug, I would imagine.


Daniel Tricarico said...


Quite simply, this is a beautiful, harrowing story. Clearly, it works literally, but also easily metaphorically because it is not the hitting that matters in life, but the falling. I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to itemize the things that struck me about this story:

1. The list in the opening paragraph was very effective. There was something about the detail about one of the vixens being "slightly older than the other" that sold the whole paragraph for me.

2.Since Michael Jackson's death, I'm seeing a lot about Deepak Chopra, as they were friends, but he's almost already self-satirizing, so I always smile when I see his name.

3. Variation on the surrealist joke I used to tell: Q) How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A) Fish.

4. How many times have I turned something tragic into something philosophical? How many times have I mistook alarm for exhilaration? So your themes are universal.

5. The end brings it down to a very small moment, nicely counterpointing the parachutist's huge predicament. Nicely done.

6. Currently, my family is in a piney region of Alaska, and I feel like I've been in a freefall since they've been gone. Again, universal themes. . .

Hope you don't mind my deconstructing this; I'm sitting in a cafe with a cooling cup of coffee. I'm supposed to be writing myself, but I'm glad I found your story. Thanks for listening.

Dan Tricarico

Spencer Troxell said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Dan. I'm glad you liked the story. It's always nice to have someone go deep on something you've written.

It's weird when the family is away. Mine will be out of town this weekend on a camping trip (I've got to work), so I can feel you there.

Good luck with your writing. Stay the course!

Lodo Grdzak said...

I've gotta feeling that parachutist is gonna be alright.

Lodo Grdzak said...

Oh!--almost forgot to comment on the Pro-Life advertising banner. Not sure if thats displayed as a genuine political message or the equivalent of the kids in my hood wearing those DARE T-shirts as an ironic joke. (Not really interested in finding out either). Just thought it worth mentioning that the kid in that ad is...well, a kid. He's not only a full-term baby, but a baby that's been here..awhile. Not really truth in advertising now is it? But hey, what's a little white-lie amongst a faith movement?

Willie Y said...

I know in the end the Parachutist bounced.

Spencer Troxell said...

Thanks, guys! The Parachutist is glad you're pulling for him.

Lodo: I don't choose the ads that run on the sidebar. Adsense scans my posts for key words and tries to match those words with products/companies. I guess abortion is the new thing, because I mentioned it. Last month I did a post on going to the dentist, and my ads were about cavities and home dental repair kits (or something like that) for a few weeks. I'm waiting for the messages to combine in weird ways. Although I'm not exactly sure what the abortion meets dentistry add will look like.

Lodo Grdzak said...

That's so interesting. I had no idea that's how those ads work. So much about the blogs I have no clue about. I'm gonna pursue using vids for sure like you did with the unicycle. Know I could get some good stuff on that.

By the way, you're still posting!

Spencer Troxell said...

I am still embarrassing. I guess I just needed to recharge a little while after school finished.

I look forward to seeing videos on your blog!

Lodo Grdzak said...

Yeah, I fear that'll happen the same day you take your 3 month hiatus.

Spencer Troxell said...

ha ha. Well, that's too bad for both of us.