I went abseiling the other day. Not down a rock face like a normal person. No, that would be too easy. I went down the QV1 building in the Perth CBD along with hundreds of others in an effort to raise funds for The PMH Foundation.
As usual I was feeling pretty cocky. I had jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet and that was fun so what was 160 metres? Bloody hard, that’s what!
I was told at my training session (held at Statham Quarry, Gooseberry Hill), that if I could do the 20 and 30 metre cliffs (which I did), the actual building would be a breeze. Well, I have one thing to say about that; “liar liar pants on fire!”
Everyone (myself included) had been surprised by how well I took to abseiling that day. I had no problem stepping off the edge and although my progress was slow and I had to rely on my instructor Terry to prop me up a few times when my legs gave out, I managed to get the hang of the “step, release, step, release” technique pretty easily. And for the most part I had done it all by myself.
On the way down Terry (who stayed with me the whole time) commented that I was very calm. I looked up at how far I had come (possibly 10 metres by then) and mused that the top looked very far away. That was when he turned me around to face the ground. When I giggled and asked if I could continue down that way, I think he realised it was pointless trying to rattle me. I was now sure I could abseil (I had my doubts before the training) and I was really looking forward to the main event.
But then came the costume…
A friend had suggested that I wear a Wonder Woman costume on the day. I only vaguely knew what Wonder Woman wore so, thinking that he was joking anyway I said I’d think about it. By that time I had raised about $700 so I decided to float my friend’s idea on my social media along with the promise that I would indeed wear it if I could reach $2000.
Perhaps I should have promised NOT to wear the costume instead. Although I did receive some very generous donations, I didn’t get to the magic number (grand total was $1659). Phew! I dodged that bullet. Then I received some “great news,” Costume Box had heard about my Abseil (I wonder how that happened) and very kindly offered to donate the Wonder Woman costume free of charge. I had been dreading the costume’s arrival and when it hadn’t arrived with only three days to go I secretly hoped it wouldn’t get here at all. As much as I feared it though, nothing could have prepared me for when it did actually arrive. There was just nothing of it.
Of course it included the lasso, cuffs, boots, belt, and crown but the main part of the costume (a strapless leotard) didn’t leave much to the imagination. I know I now wore things to show my legs (see post “At Last, A Leg UP!”) but this was ridiculous. There was a cape, (for what it was worth) but I wasn’t allowed to wear it during the abseil.
I was terrified. I was convinced I would get arrested for public indecency or freeze to death and I knew I couldn’t afford to pay the counselling bills for those who had to look at me. But the thing that scared me the most was looking stupid. I’m usually pretty good at that just wearing my civvies.
The day arrived and of course it was raining. Boy was it raining! I suited up (being inwardly thankful that Wonder Woman didn’t wear white), and tentatively looked at myself in the mirror. It wasn’t actually that bad. Oh who am I kidding, it looked awesome! I decided then and there to own it. Besides, there are worse things in the world to be called than Wonder Woman. Sure, Aqua Man may have been more appropriate and Chewbacca would have been warmer but it could have been worse. He could have chosen Barbarella!
At the top of the building I had experienced a change of heart. It was freezing. Where are the fiery pants when you need them? It was also really windy but at least the rain had stopped. I was introduced to my abseiling buddy from Adventure Out and suddenly it wasn’t that cold after all. He was hot enough for both of us!
I began walking backwards and in three short strides I was over the edge. But this wasn’t like abseiling at the quarry. This was very, very slippery. I took a step and slipped. I took another step and slipped. Then I took a third step, slipped and went hurtling towards the side of the building. I began to panic. After several attempts at righting myself resulting in more slipping and some added swinging due to the wind, I had to concede defeat.
The rest of the descent was spent perched on my companion’s lap as he got me to the ground. I was so disappointed in myself for failing and embarrassed at letting all my supporters down. Especially when I could hear them all cheering me on from the ground. On the bright side though it did give me the opportunity to enjoy the view (both geographically and otherwise).
I have decided that I definitely want to do that again. I am determined to conquer that building by myself and eventually I’m sure I will. However next year I will be opting for a more conformist outfit.
Bring on 2017!