“GET ON YOUR KNEES.”
These are words you never want to hear from a man behind you. I had been sitting on my butt up to that point, nestled into the young stubbled Australian, his legs on either side of me. It was a confusing, yet also comforting time, knowing that he had done this before. As the plane continued to gain altitude my heart continued to sink deep into my gut.
The distraction was that we were filming a promotional video for the city of Abbotsford, British Columbia, and our emotional projection was to be that of excitement and euphoria.
The cameras were rolling and the music was pumping and we were successfully pretending to have the time of our lives, but also, maybe, the last time of our lives. Suddenly, the Aussie behind me says, “GET. ON. YOUR. KNEES”. Crocodile Dundee then clipped himself to me. The door slid open and the deafening engine vibrations rattled each and every one of my innards. I could barely breathe, but for the cameras I was able to muster up an “It just got real!” I could have whispered “Lord take this cup from me” or I could have just sucked my thumb and wept like I wanted, because none of the preamble made the final cut anyway. My filming partner and pal, Sunee Dhaliwal, also told me that I was laughing like a crazy person. That didn’t surprise me, because I don’t always have healthy responses to real life situations.
We had a third party in our plane too. He was with a larger group of tourists and they tucked him into our plane because he fit, I suppose. Save on gas. Makes sense. But once the side door slid open, the fella and his tandem just rolled out of the plane. I know this because Sunee yelled, “The Chinese guy is gone. Where’d the Chinese guy go?” I think there may have been concern on his part that white guys were pushing brown guys out of airplanes. Amazing how many irrational thoughts one has at the cusp of death. I was leaving the plane next, and thought maybe they also hated the Dutch as well. I’m Dutch. Who doesn’t hate the Dutch? I can’t think of any.
I had previously been concerned for Sunee, not because of racism, but because he was taller and heavier than the recommended height and weight on the brochure. More specifically, 8 inches too tall and 50 lbs too heavy. When we had inquired about his dimension discrepancies, they were like, “Nah, he’s fine”. Super assuring. But hey, this was a paid gig and as comedians we can’t afford to say no to paid gigs. We weren’t too worried at that point though, because worst case scenario, we never have to pay rent again.
The time had come to jump out of the plane and Paul Hogan says, “Put your legs out of the plane.” Everything in my body, aka my survival instinct, would not allow me to move. Mother Nature has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to defying gravity. I imagined the coroner peeling my Fruit Roll Up of a corpse off of the tarmac, “That’s what you get when you break the law”. Beyond my natural and legal obligation to rebel against Russell Crowe’s instructions, it was a physical impossibility to move from the kneeling position inside of the plane to hang my legs and feet outside of the plane. Thankfully, Steve Irwin was there to gently shove me to the edge. Me, moving towards exiting the plane was 1 part being pushed and 1 part trying to keep 1 or more millimetres of separation between my butt and Eric Bana’s crotch. With my soon to be former self now perched at the edge of the vehicle of doom, I recalled one of the instructions we received on the ground, “Do not grab the doorway before exiting the plane.” How did I remember this? Well, when the first thing I did was grab the doorway in an attempt to not fall out of an airplane, Chris Hemsworth karate chopped my arm. It hurt. He then followed it up with two firm and controlled pelvic thrusts. Just like that we were hurling towards the earth. Arms crossed and breath held, my heart was officially on stand by.
This is me falling out of an airplane:
Mel Gibson then yelled, “Smile for the Camera!”
Trigger warning: I am now going to use a misogynist term. Psycho Chick. I mean this with the utmost respect and awe when I use it. Just below me, there was a Psycho Chick. She was falling backwards, facing upwards, towards me in one of those flying squirrel suits. She was filming the whole thing. Impressive and ill advised. Once I am able to shake the image of her body exploding on the ground out of my mind I remember that I have a job to do. So I stretch out my arms, open my eyes wide, and holler, “I love Abbotsford.”
As you can see, I’m wearing goggles, of course, lest who knows what could have happened to my eyeballs; maybe they could be sucked out of my head or I’d take a goose to the pupil?
Keith Urban opened the parachute with maybe a bit of whiplash, but then we are sailing over the valley. My heart is pumping again and I have resumed breathing. I’m not dead and it’s awesome in the sky. After a while, Hugh Jackman whisperingly bellows into my ear, “Take the controls”. I reach up with my adrenaline saturated noodle arms and I pulled right and pulled left and pulled right again and realized that I did not have the will, nor the strength, to steer this ship. I passed it back to Nicole Kidman’s Brother and we floated safely down. With the option of landing on my feet, I chose to scooch and skid on my butt like a toddler tobogganing down carpeted stairs or a dog trying to relieve an itch.
Why did I fall? I fell for a paycheque and I fell for Abbotsford, a community I love. How did I fall? I fell with a friend and I fell with every famous male Australian I could think of. When you fall with someone, for the sake of someone else, it feels less like falling and more like flying.
In conclusion - I now live in Chilliwack.