In late December, I was getting bummed about the very practical assortment of Christmas gifts I'd acquired for Ryan: boots, a coat, a beard trimmer, a travel case for bathroom supplies.
"You're going to have a boring Christmas," I warned him. "Very practical."
"Oh goodie," he replied.
A few days later, I got an email from Groupon announcing the daily deal. It was very non-practical. I pursed my lips. I stroked my chin. I considered the possibility. I imagined the surprise. I clicked "Buy Now!"
On Christmas morning, after the boots, coat, beard trimmer, and travel case had been opened, I handed Ryan a final box to unwrap. Inside he found one of the kids toys---an action figure in a flight suit taped to another small package containing a toy plane.
"I don't get it," he said.
"Keep going," I said, pointing to the rolled papers tied with ribbon.
"Should I be concerned that this action figure is missing a foot?" he asked.
I guess I hadn't inspected it closely before I taped it to the plane.
"Pay no attention to that," I said.
He opened the papers to open the true surprise: a gift certificate for a skydive, the very antithesis of boots, coats, beard trimmers, and travel cases. What happened next explains a lot about Ryan, me, and everyone else we know. First, he spent a couple of hours researching the company, customer/victim reviews, and most importantly, the mortality rates of skydiving. He was relieved to find that after some major changes to regulations in the 90's, very few people die anymore from skydiving. It's around one in every 550,000.
But still, he reminded me, there has to be that one.
I should mention that there were two gift certificates, one for him and one for me. I attempted to get my neighbor friend to buy one for her husband for Christmas. I would spend half as much and we could send them up together. She immediately killed the idea. Her husband isn't into flinging himself from flying planes, she explained. Sure, I replied, but are you into flinging him from a flying plane? She stuck to her guns. I figured I couldn't send Ryan up alone, so I bought another dive for me.
I didn't study the statistics, read customer reviews, or research the company. I do get butterflies and a mild case of diarrhea every time I think about the actual activity, but I'm more or less committed to participating. I buy into the belief that if other people, including many senior citizens, get a kick out of it and live through it, why not me?
At this point, Ryan is about 60% committed to the idea, but is reserving his final decision until later. I think the action figure with the missing foot is haunting him a little.
Since the time he opened the gift, he's asked everybody he knows if they'd do it, and we're both surprised at the findings. Most people say no, thank you very much. More women say yes. My dad says he might have in a younger day. My friend says she would if she had better knees. Christian says he wouldn't, not in a million years, and by the way, we'd better not die if we decide to do it.
Now I'm wondering where you stand on the issue. Would you jump? Have you jumped? Tell me all about it. I want to know. I think.