Rendered Fat Content


Gosta Adrian-Nilsson: TJURFÄKTNINGS SCEN [Bullfighting Scene] (1934)
" … at least in my own mind …"

I hold the firm belief that it's inherently healthy for me to occasionally scare myself. This amounts to a philosophical position, however, and does not always or even usually translate into me frequently so engaging. I remain a ninny at heart and am apt to fuss over any operation near any edge and that's double for heights, so when I challenged myself to take down the long-standing and little-used scaffolding, it amounted to a big and rare event. I went looking for The Muse to help, but she was impenetrably occupied on a call, so after re-re-re-re-re-thinking one final time, I climbed to the top and started disassembling.

Were it not for the height, scaffolding could be simple, but altitude makes all the difference.
I don't dance at twenty feet up the same way I do at five or at ground level. I move in slower motion up there and I remain very, very wary, almost too aware. My motions are not fluid but choppy. I'm always looking over my shoulder, moving deliberately, and am probably at greater peril because I'm so careful than I would be had I been more careless and caviler. I reach and grasp like an analogue robot. It tends to take me forever to accomplish anything when I'm up there, though with practice, I have been known to lose a degree or three of self-consciousness and appear remarkably life-like up there, but not when assembling or disassembling the structure. Then, there's little order. Everything's preliminary and unstable. My legs shake and I quail. This is the fear I philosophically embrace and most often make excuses to avoid. Once this arrives, I'm already in. This marks the start of the ride.

It might more properly be called a crawl, for the scariest parts move in maddeningly slow motion. I crawl to the top of the structure and pull the safety pins. This, alone, seems foolhardy for it results in a structure without a layer of safety. I persist, slowing my motions as if that were even possible and as if that might keep me safer. I remove cross bracing, leaving the top scaffold tier carelessly waggling. Nothing supports it but the connecting pins beneath and each end suddenly possesses way too many degrees of freedom. Once I lower the cross braces to the ground and clamber down to stack them to one side, I challenge myself to crawl back up and actually perform the deed. I'll need to unplug that end of the structure, lifting it up, turning it sideways, then lowering it down with the handy hank of rope I attached one-handed while balanced on the edge of my world. To everyone's surprise, my ploy worked. Nobody fell to their death. Nobody was paralyzed for life. No-one even wounded. That's one down and an infinity to go.

I imagine that the danger I'm facing reduces as I disassemble each tier, and I suppose that might even be true, but planks need moving ever lower, and each operation seems to take longer, each piece feels heavier as I approach ground level, as if gravity increased as I neared the center of the earth. I end up with a clog of planks as I approach the ground. I create a jumble upon which I might stumble. Necks can break even with a six foot fall. I slow down and perform some clean up work even though it slows down the effort. I finally enlist The Muse to help catch the two last pieces when I separate them on the ground. She claims to have been watching me but makes no big deal out of the performance. I'm elated, or would be if I wasn't so exhausted. I'd burned up about 50,000 calories or thereabouts and had not hurt myself, a serious success, but likely one solely reserved for my own mind. I wore no Spandex®, thank heavens, and performed for a crowd of one, but I like to think that it was the right one. This one needs at least an occasional brush with destruction to keep the old exhaust pipes blowing. I had been Scarin'Myself through half the afternoon and lived to sing the tune about my grand adventure, at least in my own mind, which seems important.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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