Every few months, I read about another octogenarian or nonagenarian celebrating a birthday by jumping from a plane. Often, their loving families surprise them with this gift of a skydive.
I have a few years to go yet, but I’m not wasting any time putting my children and grandchildren on notice now. This may be a trendy birthday idea for oldsters who already own a cardigan sweater in every color, but I have zero desire — repeat that, zero desire — to fly through the air harnessed to a giant nylon trash bag.
I’ve never longed for a bird’s-eye view of Joplin’s church steeples and garden gnomes. In fact, when I have that opportunity from inside a plane, I stare at my food tray and pretend that I’m back in the Lafayette Elementary School cafeteria waiting for lima beans and apple crisp. And I don’t even like lima beans.
I suspect that President George H.W. Bush fueled this birthday trend because he celebrated many of his major ones, including his 90th, by sailing through the air 12,000 feet above the reach of bickering politicians. He needed this break.
I don’t and never will.
The senior skydivers who make headlines with their birthday leaps always have grinning family members on the ground who eagerly offer inspirational quotes to the press. These quotes can be summed up as, “Oh, Momma has always been young a heart” or “Gramps loves living life on the edge.”
I consider myself young at heart and even young at toes after making the pleasing discovery last week that my toes look 20 years younger than my face. And I definitely live life on the edge. I’ve eaten pimento cheese-flavored candy canes, applied mascara in a moving vehicle and refused to forward chain letters and email messages to 10 friends who need luck.
As a practical matter, too, it would be impossible for me to free fall at 120 mph without my purse.
And just think of the fallout and sky litter from a tin of peppermint Altoids, measuring tape, high-protein granite bars, tissue pouch, dry-eye drops, telephone and wallet containing a complete deck of casino cards.
It would be selfish of me to expect my children to splurge on a pricey birthday skydive. No need to toss Momma out of an airplane. Not when she still needs a fuchsia-colored cardigan.
Marti Attoun’s “Booth 186: My Secondhand Career in Vintage Corsets, Moose Heads and Other Moth-Eaten Antiques,” is available as an e-book on Amazon.