Once upon a time, Amy’s mum was a grade eight teacher with a class of general-learning-disabled children.  This generally had little impact on me apart from the odd entertaining story of day-to-day life in her classroom (these stories have not been significantly abated by her move to a grade one class but the content has changed a great deal).  She did, however, ask me to come and help with a field trip.  A field trip to go indoor rock climbing.

Despite having a few reservations, I said yes (of course I said yes, I always say yes) and drove down to her school and rode the bus.  When rock climbing it is apparently a good idea to be paired with someone of similar weight to one’s self to make the belaying process easier.  I was paired with a husky young man whose name I cannot now remember so I will call him Bruce because I am fairly sure there was no-one named Bruce in that class and it is good to anonymize in such cases.

We took a short course on how belayers are supposed to perform their tasks.  He seemed to be very attentive to the entire process but was clearly eager to get to the actual climbing of the rocks.  He climbed first and I belayed for him and it went very well.  I think the idea was to let one person go several times until they tired, then switch off so there wasn’t too much time wasted in getting into and out of the harnesses.  Ah, yes, the harnesses.  Imagine for a moment, if you will, making a pair of shorts out of a bunch of nylon belts that you happen to have handy.  That is kind of what was going on here.

When it came my turn to climb, I got the harness on with a minimum of difficulty.  I made very, very certain that all the “furniture” was in the same “room.”  All the “luggage” was on the same “flight,” if you will.  My “testicles” were not “under one of the straps,” if you take my meaning.  This turned out to be time well spent.  My first couple of goes up the wall were quite successful.  I started on one of the easier sections and Bruce was right there with me, cheering me on and encouraging me as I had encouraged him.  All was copacetic.  I moved on to a more challenging run and there again, great success.  My final attempt was still more challenging, made even more so by the fact that by this time, my hands were very sore.  I made it to the ceiling and hit the bell or the rope or whatever the goal was and began to belay back down.  Bruce was doing well right up until this point.  Somebody got him distracted, though, as I was about four feet from the (padded) floor.  I felt myself dropping and cried out.  I ought to have kept my mouth shut as Bruce slammed on the brakes, arresting me after only two feet of free fall.  The result of this drop was that the harness was wrenched so far up my tuchus that I could nearly taste nylon.  I was extremely happy that I had taken time to get things sorted out before beginning my ascent.

put a spare bulb in my hand