This Friday, Nik Wallenda, a seventh generation member of the legendary “Flying Wallendas” circus family, will scare the living Milk Duds out of all who gather at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Don’t get us wrong, we love watching someone put their life on the line by performing stunts that are demonstrably proven to be deadly. We enjoy mostly the feeling of helplessness as we watch a circus performer or escape artist struggle to prevent the logical outcome of the circumstance he or she brought about. We show our pure pleasure by screaming like a 12-year-old girl, hiding our eyes, and darting from the scene of a likely fatality.
We cannot abide people leaning back in their chairs, much less leaning back in a chair atop a high wire strung between two fixtures not intended for the purpose by something only slightly more sophisticated than a shade-tree mechanic’s come-along.
Houdini wrote, “No one wants to see someone die, but they want to be there if it happens.” Houdini never met the wimpy, effeminate side of your author. Perhaps it is a result of seeing too many victims of poor judgment or bad fortune buried at a young age or confined to wheelchairs. Or perhaps we are just lacking the calloused protection living in this world requires. Either way, we’re not going to be there and we’re not going to think about it after this article is published.
Ironically, we yearned to be a tightrope walker and worshiped Philippe Petit. Life was good until we realized we were not exempt from the laws of gravity or probability; and despite our teenage intuition to the contrary, we were not immortal.
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