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  January 30, 1999



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Winging it a real rush

Bungee jump pumps adrenaline

By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  I'm learning to fly but I ain't got wings

 Comin' down is the hardest thing

 -- Tom Petty, Learning to Fly

 There we were, the whole motley crew hanging out on Tampa beach. You know the scene, a bunch of muscleheads and more bikini-clad babes than Baywatch.

 Nah, I'm kidding. Really, it was more like family fun day. The wives and kids were enjoying the rides and the shops and the boys were just hanging out.

 Until Knobbs, (from the Nasty Boys) made the big announcement that the guy at the bungee jump said we could all go -- for free. Uh-oh.

 Famous last words. OK ... so we each save $75 or whatever but why do I think we'll end up paying for this in other ways?

 Normally, I would say that contemplating jumping from a great height sufficient enough to make you go splat is something that should be considered carefully -- although I'm not sure there is anything 'normal' about considering it in the first place.

 In any normal group of people, I suppose some would have been eager to give it a try and others would have left it 'at thanks but no thanks'. But for a band of outlaw toughians like us 'rasslers (yah, right), the challenge was set. After all, not one of us wanted to look wimpy.

 This wasn't just a case of mere peer pressure. Call it, 'boys will be boys' and leave it at that.

 So the whole gang, including both Nasty Boys, big Jim the Anvil Neidhart, The Bulldog and Yours Truly, go sauntering on over all cocky and confident -- on the outside.

 I sized up the situation and decided it was safe enough -- by some strange new standard of safe I'd concocted for the moment. After all, it wasn't like I was jumping off a cliff or over water or anything dangerous. I was just going to step off a specially-designed tall tower.

 There was no need to worry about if the bungee was going to break because that almost never happens. But, just in case, they had this humongous mattress on the ground. You know, those big, fat air mattress things they use for (trained) stuntmen. (Wrestlers are trained to take falls, but not out of the sky.) Besides, it didn't look that high.

 Well, we were on or way up, about 6 ft. from the ground, when it suddenly came to me. I have always been afraid of heights! See, it didn't occur to me in the machoness of the deciding moment but, as we rose each foot higher, I was more and more sure of one thing. This was a very bad idea. I'm not doing this.

 Well the bungee guy starts telling me that people say this is the greatest thing to conquer a fear of heights. Conquer. Another manly concept.

 OK ... I can do this. I will do this.

 By now, word that a bunch of wrestlers were at the bungee jump had spread to the amusement area. A crowd gathered, all eyes upon us, way up in the air on this platform. I don't know how high. Too high. But what a view! You could see for miles. Look -- there's my wife and kids! I waved enthusiastically, as if to say, 'Hey, look at dad!' She wasn't waving back.

 Uh-oh, if the fall doesn't kill me, Julie will!

 Suddenly I felt this tremendous relief. What a great excuse I had to get out of this whole thing. I'd always be able to say, 'Hey, I was gonna do it but then I thought about the wife and kids and ...' Suddenly I had to know if I could do this. Just as the bungee guy was saying, `Hey, if you really don't want to ...' I stepped into the sky.

 They say if man was meant to fly, he'd have wings. In a way, they're right, because I found out the hard way that our bodies aren't designed for it. My stomach plummeted into my mouth twice.

 But my spirit soared.

 For days, the adrenaline rush was so intense that I felt fearless.

 Immortal. I could have wrestled an alligator. I've often thought it would be a great thing for a guy to do before playing in the Super Bowl (so if any of you guys are reading this ... ).

 I'm not sure why the death-defying leap made me feel so alive. When I've had down times or just needed to rise for a challenge, I've thought about doing it again ... but, I haven't. It has something to do with tempting fate once too often.

 I learned some sort of a lesson about leaps of courage and leaps of faith but I guess that is better left for the philosophers to sort out.

 I've always wanted to go sky diving, believe it or not, and after bungee jumping, I've decided, not to. And I still take the aisle seat on the plane.

 Well some say life will beat you down

 Break your heart, steal your crown

 So I started out for God knows where

 But I guess I'll know when I get there.

 I'm learning to fly around the clouds

 But what goes up must come down

 -- Tom Petty, Learning to Fly

 (A couple of weeks ago I wrote that when Andre the Giant hurled me out of the ring ,it was like when I went bungee jumping. This column is in answer to all of you who wrote and asked me to tell the bungee story. Let me know what other stories you want. I've got lots of 'em.)

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