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[friday]

July 11, 2014

Flying high at the circus

Ahhhhh, man. This was a bad idea.

My legs were wobbly, my breathing a little staggered, as I stood on a small platform no more than 2 feet wide staring down at the wood floor 40 feet below.

I was going to jump off that platform, swing, and drop backwards into a net.

Why? Well, why not. It’s not every day you get a chance to try the trapeze.

That’s where I was – on the trapeze platform beneath the big top at the Peru Amateur Circus building. Circus officials asked if I wanted to give the high-flying act a try. I figured, sure.

But I was changing my tune as 14-year-old Megan Brehmer, one of the trapeze performers, pulled the bar towards me and told me to jump.

“You know what you’re doing?” yelled Bill Anderson, a 25-year trapeze-trainer veteran who helps coach the eight kids who perform the act.

“Nope, not really,” I yelled back.

But that wasn’t exactly true. Anderson had given me a 1-minute crash course on how to do the trapeze before I climbed up the loose-ring ladder leading up to the platform.

First, don’t jump. Fall, so that your body doesn’t snap when it reaches the bottom of the swing.

Pull your legs forward on the return swing so your legs don’t hit the platform.

When he says drop, wait till you’re at the pinnacle of the forward swing, then just let go.

OK. Simple enough.

But that was getting harder to say as I climbed up the ladder and watched Anderson and the other people on the ground get smaller and smaller.

Three trapeze girls greeted me as I shakily stepped on the platform and grabbed one of the poles holding it up with a death grip.

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