Flying Leap: Oh, the agony of defeat!

Upon my arrival home, I began writing again on my family’s desktop. When going to save a copy of next week’s column, I was distracted by the title of a column from almost two years ago. One of my odder moments, and related to Slovenia in some way, I decided to post this 2009 New Year’s gem. Even funnier than the story itself is the ending. While I consider the ending to be sort of lame and unrelated in tone or plot to the piece as a whole, I decided to include it in my published piece for some reason I can’t remember. One of my editors suggested I remove it at the time. The instinct there was right-on. Looking back, the last line seems stupid, and I wish I’d removed it.

The reason for editorial suggestion, though, is slightly more humorous. I was told that I’d written enough Sarah Palin jokes into my column that fall of 2008, which, of course, was election season, and that I need not make reference to her in this column, too. I was perplexed: I hadn’t been thinking of Palin at all when I wrote this column, or when I drafted the rather stupid final line. The more amusing thing to me, at the time, was that this line made my editor think of Palin. Read on…

My New Year’s resolution for the great 2009 is to not break my neck.

This may sound strange, though it is certainly not unreasonable… provided I refrain from all things that involve a sled, a 10 foot hill, and running, jumping, flying leaps onto snow tubes.

I have a problem with flying leaps. A flying leap over an air conditioner box this summer resulted in a broken pinky toe, which I swear sometimes still bothers me when I try to balance all of my body weight on that one toe. I have been told this happens to anyone who tries to balance their entire body weight on a single small toe, but I refuse to believe it.

In any case, I took Flying Leap Number Two this past weekend, during our epic snowstorm. It occurred as I began to demonstrate, for all siblings present, the act of correctly mounting a snow tube so as to maximize the speed of said snow tube down a rather petite hill in our backyard.

One thing I did accomplish in my demonstration was, in fact, maximizing speed… of some kind. I believe the sort of speed I maximized may be classified as the wrong sort—as in, the sort that quickly lands you on your face in a drift of snow on a hill with your neck bending sideways as your entire body begins twisting above you, back stretching until you are balancing your all of your weight on your head and neck before you come crashing and tumbling down the 10 foot hill. It does, in fact, hurt more to balance one’s body weight unexpectedly on one’s neck than to purposefully, half-faking it, attempt to maybe sort of balance one’s body weight on one’s toe.

And, yes, I am an expert at demonstrating the unique and thrilling technique of the flying leap.

I’d never tried it in the snow until that day, but after ascertaining the damages—a crumpled self trapped in snow, wind knocked out of me, as family members screamed that I’d broken my neck—I believe that indeed, the idea of taking a flying leap down a rather small hill may actually be worth the risk. This is, of course, not for the faint of heart. It is, however, for Slovenians.

You see, I believe I was only living up to my great Slovenian heritage as I attempted this glorious sledding feat. If I had been on skis, my fall would have rivaled that of Vinko Bogataj. What, you say? Who is Vinko Bogataj? He is the skilled skier who made accidentally cart-wheeling down ski slopes an art, forever etched into the memory of popular culture in his “Agony of Defeat” clip shown time and time again on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”

And yes, we are both Slovenian. Better yet, my fall was really that good.

I know this because there is photographic evidence. This evidence is in the form of a photo (well, obviously, I know, but I’m getting there:) taken by my mother as I fell. I will describe the scene:

Me: Hey, everybody! Watch this! I’m going to clear a new path for the sled! Man, this snow is deep—but wait a second, in order to do this, you’ve really got to throw yourself into it, take a flying leap—

[Running start, jump onto snow tube, having been covered in snow and being rather slippery, slide directly off snow tube without snow tube moving even a half centimeter, and crash fantastically, appearing to have snapped my neck and be paralyzed for life.]

Mother’s Camera: *Flash!* SNAP!

Sister: Oooh—oooh, God, that looks painful.

[Runs over.]

Father: Can you move your neck? Can you move?

Me: [Silence]

14-year-old Brother: I’ll help! [Throws snowball in my face.]

Me: Hey!

Mother’s Camera: *Flash!* SNAP!

Sister: This is not funny! Put that thing away— *Flash!* SNAP!

You can clearly see, from the above scene, that all members of my family were equally concerned about my well-being.

In all reality, I must stress to young readers that the art of the flying leap is one which is perhaps unable to be mastered, even by experts like me. It is because I am an expert that I survive flying leaps, though it is impossible, I have proven, to escape without seriously risking one’s life. Therefore, it would be not be wise to attempt any such feats ever, anywhere, under any circumstances.

And it would be even more unwise to attempt any such feats without a mother with a camera standing nearby, ready to snap a picture of you balancing on your neck at the exact moment of the flying leap’s demise.

Well, you know… I’m just sayin’.

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