Sunday night I watched a man, on live television, walk a tightrope across the Little Colorado River Gorge.
Actually, I didn’t have the guts to watch it live. I knew it was going on, I knew what channel it was on, and I knew what time it was on. But I could never watch something like that.
That kind of stress would have given me a heart attack.
So, to clarify my initial statement, I closed my eyes, put my fingers in my ears and woke my wife as I yelled “la, la, la, la, la. . .” when the local news played a snippet of Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk Monday morning.
Just thinking about that now makes me nervous. I could not imagine walking across a 1,400-foot-long rope that is 1,500 feet in the air as the wind blows. One wrong step and half of America would have been saying, “I told you so.”
I don’t have good balance to begin with. I sometimes stumble while I am just walking on flat ground.
Put me that high in the air, on a tightrope and carrying a big stick and they would have cut to a commercial pretty quick.
I probably would have needed a few cocktails to get up the nerve to walk a step, and that is just asking for it.
It’s no surprise that I couldn’t watch that feat. I get nervous for television characters when they are in uncomfortable situations.
Like when Cliff and Clair Huxtable found marijuana in Theo’s history book. I knew it wasn’t his, but I felt terrible as we waited for the story to unfold and the truth to come out.
Or when Homer had an anniversary surprise for Marge, but he has to act like he forgot the anniversary.
Those don’t compare to a real life-and-death situation like Wallenda’s encounter. But why would he do that?
Really, why risk your life for the thrill of. . . I am not sure what the thrill is. Walking with a big bar while being terrified for your life?
The thrill of saying, “Why did I do this?” while halfway across the canyon?
I understand that some people are adrenaline junkies, but that isn’t for me.
I am afraid of heights, to some degree. I could stand on top of the tallest building and look down, as long as there was something between me and the ledge.
So it isn’t really the heights as much as the falling that scares me.
And I don’t want to watch someone else who could very easily fall to his death.
But in the case of Wallenda, it wouldn’t have been the fall that bothered me most, but the splat at the end of the trip.
I have never been a fan of gore, and live TV gore has much less appeal for me.
I want nothing to do with bloody movies, like the “Saw” series, in which characters are put through tests and then eventually cut up and dismembered.
My newlywed wife actually enjoys these movies, and that sometimes terrifies me.
We watched together once — actually she watched the movie and I saw a total of five minutes of the flick between my fingers as my hand covered my eyes.
I guess I can avoid most of the gore and the stress by sticking to ’80s sitcoms and cartoons — as long as none of the characters get busted with dope or forget an anniversary.