Monday, May 9, 2011

Daddy's little stunt girl

       When I was younger my dad used to call me his little guinea pig. I was thrilled by the idea of being the guinea pig without knowing what it entailed. In all honest, I initially agreed to the role of the occasional test dummy because I thought guinea pigs were cute. My dad sorta treated me like a female G.I. Joe doll, his little stunt girl.    
        At four years old I was doing high falls off the roof into an airbag (more like "active" falls, as he was the one gently tossing me off the roof). He would say "Look at my little stunt girl," while a seven year old me is climbing the ladder, getting ready to jump.  My dad and his stuntmen friends would have these 'work outs'. They'd all get together at one of their houses and work on perfecting what they do for a living, stunts.
            Since my parents separated when I was three, whenever I was with my dad, I was literally WITH my dad. I didn't have babysitters, and I didn't have a lot of friends to hang out with until high school, so from the ages of four through 13, he brought me everywhere with him.
          One of the work-outs would be at his friend Tony S.'s house in Culver city. He had a trapese set-up in his back yard, something like you would find in circus de solei. I loved going to his house, because he had dogs and the backyard was huge, I could run rampant if I wanted. On the trapese set there was this harness attached to two bungee chords, once buckled in, the possibility of voluntarily removing myself was unlikely. The chords were attached to the top off two white metal support poles that shot out of the ground, 3 stories high and about a volleyball courts distance apart from each other.
      Once I was in the harness my dad, and whoever I could convince, would grab me by the ankles and start walking with me until the tension in the bungee's was strong enough to launch me across the back yard like amo in a sling-shot. I always wanted to go higher, even when I was up above all of the trees, HIGHER, higher please.
       From as early as I can remember my dad's main field of stunt work has been car work; precision driving, crashes, rolls...  one afternoon his friends were over adding to his demo real, everyone was outside. I was sitting on the warm concrete playing with rolli-pollys in my one-piece bathing suit (my uniform for years) as my dad and three of his friends stood discussing the stunt they were about to pull on our street.There was a 20 x 25 Porta Pit (a vinyl-covered cushion for jumps and falls) laid out adjacent to our drive-way, it was black and about 3 feet think.
      My dad was in his royal blue driving suit from this 80s racing team he used to drive for called Performance 2, one of his friends was holding the video camera and the other one was on the roof of somebody's grey-blue two door sedan, face-down, arms spread across like a crucifixtion as he gripped the side doors on his left and right. They drive around the block (with me in the back seat of course), one is shooting the scene from the passenger seat as my dad and the friend on the roof fake fight through the driver's side window. When he got the car in position for the finish he sped up, turned slightly to the right, then pulled the e-break just enough to slide perfectly into place beside the porta pit in front of our house, the man on the roof rolled off... gently I'm sure.
      This sparked my interest in car stunts. We used to have this little old 9-14 six convertible Porsche, my dad would always do 360s if I begged for long enough. I loved the thrill, it made my stomach feel non-existent, excitement coursed through my veins. At about age eight he started letting me jump out of the car, but only in the convertible, like in the movies. I thought it was the coolest thing I'd experienced up until that point in life.. and then I ate shit. hard.
       The routine would go as follows, we'd get onto Kittridge St. and once we were a few houses away from ours he'd slow down, I'd crouch up onto the seat with a left hand grip on the top of it and have my right hand on the door beside me, slowly putting pressure on it until I had the guts to jump... all you've got to do is come down running.
        My mom had just bought me these semi-baggy jeans with loony tune characters hanging out the back pocket for my 9th birthday, she and my grandma said they were like Janet Jackson's and the loose boy-friend jean was in. When it came to clothes, they chose sizes as if they were waiting for the day when I'd shoot up like Jack's bean stock, at least the'd be prepared garment-wise.
       The day of the fall was sunny and beautiful. These older boys that lived up my street were outside playing on their skateboards, as we passed by on the drive home I decided I wanted to impress them. I tell my dad to slow it down, the speedometer drops to a cool five mph and I crawl into position like a parrot perched. I prepare for take-off, I'm nervous. When I'm nervous or undecided about something, I jump in. Figuratively and literally choosing action with my eyes closed is something I struggle with. I'm 24 years-old, and sometimes on the days when I can't make up my mind, I still throw all of it, myself included, into the universe.... hope it comes out alright.
     So I jump out of the cherry red convertible. My jeans get caught on the little silver unlocked door lock protruding out of the passenger side door, far from graceful I awkwardly try to avoid a crash landing. Arms flayle on the take off, feet impact assphault, brain say's Come down running. I do. And for a mili-second I think I'm home free...then, SMACK. My pants weren't feeling the jog that afternoon. My feet got tangled up in the excess and as I tried to run, I tripped violently instead.... I didn't try to do that in front of boys, or anyone else for that matter, EVER again... (what tomorrow brings though is a different story, I wear tighter pants these days)

(Chapter: Dad/ childhood)

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