Monday, April 07, 2008

On belay, Belay on.

Last Saturday, this is the entry I wanted to write. And my last entry needed to stand on its own, without all the other events and observations that I have had recently buried as a sidebar note at the bottom. When I got up on Saturday morning, I knew I'd be chaperoning a trip for the boy scout troop to a local rock climbing joint. I had no idea at the end of the day that I'd have a fledgling new skill under my belt... or, perhaps I should say around my waist.

We got to the rock climbing place and the scout master had four chaperones with him so they needed everyone to belay.

"Have you ever belayed?" The staff at the front desk asked me.

"Uh, I could tell you yes or no if I knew what that meant."

So. Obviously not. They handed me a stack of paperwork releases and medical form things and a harness.

"Is this thing going to fit over my fat ass?" I asked.

"That'll fit ya. If it doesn't I've got bigger. But that one will be fine."

"Um. Okay. I guess."

Sure enough it fit me and I'm standing there wearing a harness for the first time in my 41 years of life thinking "okay... how'd you get yourself into this mess?"

Next, they sent me over to the "school" where a heavily pierced and crazy-haircutted scary looking dude named Lee taught me everything I needed to know in 20 minutes.

After the initial surprise of a guy with a huge hole in the inside of his nose that a cable could have fit through had passed, I found Lee to be gentle, kind, supportive, nonjudgmental (I mean honestly, some 250 pound fat chick shows up and needs to learn how to do this thing... he must have cringed upon sight of me like I cringed upon sight of him). I learned how to tie the knots. How to talk to the guys for when they were ready, and I was ready, so the climbing could begin. He brought me to the wall and showed me how to tie in, and then told me "Fetch a boy."

Yes. Fetch a boy.

I went and found my own son, figuring he was the most likely boy to start with. Lee taught Geoff some things, which he misheard and decided to ask me "Andelay?" Which Lee and I both laughed at and got all Speedy Gonzalez about... We corrected Geoff that he is to ask me "On belay?" and I am to respond "Belay on." And then he can climb.

He didn't get very far. The footholds were way too small. I looked at the other belayers in our group and their kids were in the rafters... Geoff was trying, and trying really hard. vertdreams4He worked up a heck of a sweat to get 2 feet off the ground.

Eventually he said "I like the boulder wall better. There are a lot of places to stick my feet." So I untied him from the super magical knot that a mere hour before I had no idea how to tie, and instructed him to send me another victim. Nick came over, and we did the "On Belay?" "Belay On" thing... and he got about 5 feet up before quitting. I was feeling as if my belaying would not be put to use.

Then, I got Stephen.

I could not keep up with him. He climbed the wall four, five times... wanting to move to different sections (which meant me tying and untying him five times). I was afraid I was making mistakes in my rhythm, and I felt the rope slacken a lot as he just spider pigged his way up the wall... terrifying me. He was the dream climber, completely willing to just go, slow down when I needed him to. I had a blast. And my arms and my back were killing me. My hands were blistering. I was laughing as he was almost to the top at one point going "what do I do? Where do I go!?" and I was making suggestions like "Grab the brain shaped thingie on your left. NO! further up! yes! You can do it!"

I had a blast. I was wearing a harness that I didn't think would fit. I felt blisters forming and it didn't bother me. All told, a good time was had by all...

Except for Mr. Pretentious Zenmaster.

Boy Scouts, on the whole, are a lot better behaved than Cub Scouts. We had four adults and twenty kids. Most of the adults were belaying, and some of the kids preferred the boulder area, where they ran around, climbed, jumped, ran around... wash, rinse, repeat.

After I was pretty much done belaying, and the troop was getting near ready to leave, the boys were using those final moments to get the most out of the joint. Which means some horsing around. They weren't horsing around ON the wall, just on the squishy open area that leads to the wall.

There was this dude there, taking it way too super seriously dude. He was visibly annoyed with the mere presence of these rambunctious young lads.

How do I know he was taking it way too super seriously? Well... he would take his shoes off and sit a ways away from the wall that jutted out at an angle toward him. He had a book of something, and would read a few passages, put the book down, and stare at the fake rock wall. Then, he'd close his eyes for a while, put his shoes back on, approach the wall and scale it with his hands and feet like Spiderman. He'd get the 10 feet up, drop down, walk back to his spot, and repeat the process. Shoes off. Read. Stare. Meditate. Shoes on. Climb.

Dude was an awesome climber, I give him credit for his amazing talents. But his overall ... aura, if you will, was one of such incredible pretentiousness. He was surrounded by families and little kids, not just our boy scouts, and he was behaving as if he was worshiping at the cliff faces at some Arizona or Utah desert shrine to climbing.

Initially, I felt a little badly for him at first but then it dawned on me... this is an indoor fake fake fake rock wall. Not... you know. Not. Just relax yourself, dude or come when no other humans are here.

A few times, he gave GLARING looks at kids, not just our boys, but other little kids like this adorable little black girl who kept SQUEALING at the top of her lungs when she climbed up over five feet without someone holding her.

My buddy Charlie and I were sitting there watching him. We were indeed impressed with his skill, no denying we could never in a million years do what he was doing. We watched him repeatedly hand climb up a wall that had him at points climbing upside down. Dude was awesome.

But Charlie said "Dude needs to get over his pretentious self. He's at a fake indoor rock wall. Jeeesh," so I knew that I wasn't the only person in the room who noticed his rock climbing superiority complex.

We decided to take a group shot of the boys, and lined them all up. Dude was nearby and picked up all of his things and STORMED OFF. How long does a picture take? Seconds. Can you just relax your ass? Obviously not.

I wondered what this guy's interpersonal relationships with other humans might be like... especially women. He looked so easily annoyed and put off, unless there was a crevasse to shove his toes into. I think if he has an equally focused and similarly minded woman (or man, whatever) in his life he may be happy. But wow. I really was amazed to watch him and his outright loathing for other humans.

Dude needs to move to Zion or someplace where he can be one with the boulders instead of living in freezing cold New Hampshire and resorting to catch his Zen wave indoors with ... kids.

Anyway, all told we had a tremendous time and it was even fun watching the dude. I'd do it again for sure.

Right. So it's been like a week since my last entry. Geoff seems to be doing a little better. At least as evidenced by the fact I have not received any phone calls from the principal, complaints from our neighbor friend, or any other signs that all is not well in Denmark. Hopefully this is all sinking in. Hopefully. Thanks for your suggestions and continued prayers for him for support. He's had a pretty good week. We've had some really serious and deep discussions.

I just wish wish wish that the person he shows himself to be to me would be the person who appears when he is dealing with the outside world. My son is aces, yo. He's amazing. He's thoughtful and insightful. I'm continually amazed by him.

Perhaps I may just have to look at him like Mr. taking it way too super seriously rock wall climbing dude and meditate, read, be focused and scale the wall of Geoff... the most challenging rock wall there is.

Alright - more later. Cheers.

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