Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

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One Star: The Indoor Skydiving Place Wouldn’t Let Me Bring In A Hot Pocket

This piece did originally run for me on Slackjaw on June 17th, 2020.

Filled with new knowledge and zipped into our gear, we were finally up next. “Excuse me,” I asked the operator at the indoor skydiving place, “I have a ticklish question.” My voice tittered. I may have started to curl a lock of my hair around one finger as I spoke through a soft, sheepish grin. The guy and his natural frown lines, however, didn’t look up from his levers and his magazine. Instead, he pointed to a sign posted not two feet from him that said, “Absolutely No Hot Pockets.”

I pressed. He said it wouldn’t make a difference if it were two Lean Pockets instead, as I had often rationalized. It was non-negotiable, he claimed, and with a plump, possibly Hot-Pocket-ripened digit he directed me to the snack bar to be gouged on saltines and matzo: snacks that crumble dry and don’t gum up the works of their half-million-dollar machine, apparently the way scalding pseudo-cheese goop does.

cropped pocket

Indoor Skydiving and Saltine Adventure Center was not willing to accommodate my needs. I couldn’t believe their nerve — I was a half-paying customer, via gifted Groupon, and I had the American right to have my countercultural snack demands and fantasies indulged. Apologies that I’m the Ginsburg-ian Cool Ranch to your establishment’s buttoned-down Nacho Cheese, but why can’t you open your eyes and see if we can’t be brothers?

Levers and Frowns said we couldn’t be “brothers” based on their liability insurance. “There’s kids here, man, you think I want sizzling cheese whippin’ round, slapping into corneas and whatnot at a-hundred-and-twenty miles-an-hour?” I told him I’d be real careful and hold the Hot Pocket right in front of my face–with two hands–so any spills would be rocketed into my mouth. He sort of deflated in a world-weary sigh. “Son, you think I ain’t heard that before?”

My lips tightened. I felt betrayed. Up until this point, the staff had treated me so well, like a fully paying customer. The staff members’ soft hands and softer voices had both been so gentle while they had fit me into the “Husky” flight suit. Platitudes for a five-star review had begun to percolate. They even had offered reassurance that the eczema on my knee, or “leg-zema,” would be protected and wouldn’t shear off, and that I shouldn’t put too much stock in the predictive power of fever dreams.

I told Levers and Frowns I completely understood — but I didn’t understand at all. I slunk away, like as if I was conceding to buy flat fare from an equally uninspired cashier. My performance was so convincing that Levers and Frowns didn’t look up again from his magazine.

I hurried back for my turn, very much looking the part of the eager-eyed pupil. The instructor took me inside and we sort of leveled out above the massive wind tunnel. The guy was screaming about something, but I had forgotten every bit of the directions now. My brother, Kenny, was in position with the camera and I unsheathed the Hot Pocket out from under my collar. The Pocket was still mostly frozen; my skin-to-dough contact hadn’t thawed it the way I thought it would. Eating it in this state probably violated some user agreement, but I didn’t know if I’d get another chance at this, and Kenny was already set up to snap my new dating profile picture. I kept the crumbly mass right in front of my face as best I could, like I had promised Levers and Frowns would be safe. Now, though, I was spinning out of control. All the people screaming and all the snack shrapnel flying everywhere honestly wasn’t helping either.

Long story short, I panicked, and, in trying to shoo away a storm of zooming crumbs, I accidentally released the Hot Pocket from my grip. The rock-hard mass narrowly missed a pair of corneas and shot through the saltine display case. None of Kenny’s pictures really came out. It didn’t work at all like in the commercial

A lot of compelling photos and footage of the damages exist, though none of it really fit the vibe I’m going for on Bumble. Despite my persistence, it is still unclear if I’ll have the ACLU’s resources as the Adventure Center puts the screws to me for damages and lost revenue.

Again, one star.

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