Friend Jeff's most recent entry (go read it now, it's fun) reminded me of an experience I had last weekend. No, I didn't kick anyone in the head (though, OH the times I've considered it recently), but I had a moment where I realized my impulses have been shaped just a tad by doing circus-like stuff.
I was working at an all night art event (no really), where from 7pm Friday to 7am Saturday people came to draw from live models. Ten dollars gets you admission, all the pizza you can eat, and access to various rooms where two or three models pose for varying lengths of time, anywhere from one minute to six hours. The final hour of the event, everyone gathers in one room, all the models get on one stand, and we just... move. The idea is to give the artists the challenge of drawing movement, or catching things quickly, or whatever they want to make of it. For the models, it's a little surreal, I have to say. It's not unheard of for us to be asked to move continually for a class, but it's pretty rare, and what's REALLY rare is to be doing it with twenty other people. Most of us have at least met one another before, but it's pretty unusual to work together, generally a class only wants one model at a time. I know the faculty, even some of the students at this school better than I know the models, and most of the time I'm okay with that because art models are often crazy. More on that in another post, but now you know why I'm not naming this event, or the school where it happened, since both are fairly well-known. Google has gotten me in trouble once already. (Hi Uncle Steven! I'm sorry I called you a groovy California guy fond of twenty minute hugs! In my own defense, that entry made me look worse than you, right? And what's wrong with twenty minute hugs, right? Right?)
Okay, so are you with me on the visuals so far? Twenty-plus naked people of various ages, races, genders and body types all writhing around on a platform that is meant to hold maybe three people comfortably, all of this at 6 in the blessed a.m. when we've been up all night and are just a little bit punchy, possibly in a trance-state due to the African drumming that has been playing since midnight... got it? So, in the middle of this, a guy asks if I want to sit on his shoulders.
This is where the circus impulses come in. I spend a fair amount of time in a world where this question comes up quite a bit, along with others like it. "Will you balance me on your feet? Can I balance you on mine? Would you hold my legs while I do a handstand? If I do a back-flip off this spring-board, would you catch me in mid-air?" Then you answer according to your abilities. Actually I'm making these occasions sound a lot more Noel Coward than they are; most of the time we don't ask, we just say, "I'm gonna do this, ya ready?" So this tall stranger says "wanna climb onto my shoulders" and I say "sure", because that's usually my response to this question, frankly sitting on a person's shoulders is small potatoes, hell, I'm used to STANDING on people's shoulders these days and even that is beginning to feel like small potatoes, even for someone like me who is a rank beginner in the circus world, anyway, sure, let's go, upsy-daisy.
It's not until I'm actually sitting on his shoulders (rising from the center of the writhing mass to a satisfying gasp from the room) that I think, "hmm. Hadn't really thought this through." It's not that I'm generally wearing a huge amount of clothing when I do tumbling or acro-balance, but somehow that small bit of cloth between his neck and my crotch is feeling noteworthy in its absence right now. No, nothing awkward or humiliating happened for anyone involved, it was just weird. At first I thought, "I've never sat naked on another person's shoulders before" then I remembered that time in the swimming pool on Fire Island when we were playing chicken (J. and I TOTALLY RULED), so I amended it to "I've never sat naked on a stranger's shoulders in front of clothed observers before." And funny thing, you'd think that once you've crossed that line, arranging yourself so you're not crushing your testicles wouldn't seem any more outrageous, but somehow at the time it just did. So I didn't. If you follow.
I stayed up there for a while, appreciated the view that I bet no one else has ever had of this room, or this event, then when we'd both had enough, I got down without mishap. No harm, no foul. The rest of the hour we all continued to writhe and periodically touch each other in safe, socially acceptable albeit occasionally suggestive ways. It's amazing what becomes suggestive when you're naked.
There's no real point to this story, other than to echo Jeff's recognition that I too have an impulse to climb or jump on people, and I might want to watch it a bit more carefully. Especially when nudity is involved.