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It was her first time visiting me at a drop zone, and I was nervous. I’d been working as an instructor at Cross Keys for about three months by the time the trip came around, and I had driven all night from Jersey to Canton, Ohio to pick her up. I think I managed all of about three hours sleep before she and I hit the road back for her week-long stay with dad.
My daughter was only 7 years old at the time, so I wasn’t worried about THAT … I was worried for a few other reasons. First off, dad was living in a 17-foot pop-up trailer in the camping area known as the “Maxi Pad.” Secondly, Cross Keys was THE party drop zone at the time (just ask Kolla!), and third and finally, the place was just cool as hell!
I was worried that at seven, and coming from a very nice large suburban house in an upscale neighborhood in Ohio, it wouldn’t so much feel to her like a camping trip with dad as having to cope with the fact that pop lived in a tiny trailer. I was worried that being a total party drop zone, she may unwittingly witness some seriously inappropriate behavior for a 7-year-old, but I was also worried that she would, on some level, realize just how fucking cool that place was! I had a very real fear that somehow her experience at Cross Keys would instill in her a deep, almost subliminal desire for exactly that lifestyle, and that thought kept me up at night! Let me explain why …
I’m a guy. A guy who managed to make a very good living as a male stripper for more than 11 years of my life. I’m also a guy who has been the very happy recipient of grateful female students’ affections throughout my skydiving career, and perhaps most importantly, I’m a guy who believes what comes around goes around. When asked before her birth what I thought we were going to have, I would always reply very matter of factly, “girl,” followed by the easy explanation, “because I believe in karma.”
Let’s face it. Skydivers are fucking cool. Be honest, girls—how many of you reading this right now started off your skydiving careers staring up at a packing tool dangling off the neck of the hot camera flyer/instructor/swooper while you enjoyed a jumper’s second (or first) favorite thing to do? Come on, admit it, if only to yourselves. Surrounded by unpacked canopies and camera equipment, face half buried in a jumpsuit balled up on the sleeping bag used as a comforter, panties hanging off the camera helmet kept lovingly on its pedestal, and all the while shitty ass drunk and happy as fucking hell. Great way to end a fantastic day of jumping, or take a break in the middle of the day, or between loads, or … You get the point.
Having found myself in situations like that a few times, I know all too well not only how fun it is, but how easy it is for people—both men and women—to get caught up in the whole thing. So halfway through our week, when my adorable little 7-year-old wouldn’t stop talking about Jacko, the handsome and charming Englishman every girl (and some of the guys) wanted to bang, the realization that every father of a girl must have at some point in his life slammed into me face first like a brick. Every girl out there that I had done unspeakably fun things with was somebody’s … daughter!
All of the sudden, every guy on the DZ was nothing but a slobbering, throbbing cock, staring at my little girl like she was on a shelf labeled “layaway.” Every guy clearly had bad intentions, and I couldn’t wait to get my little baby off that damn drop zone! I even ushered her out of New Jersey at breakneck speed a day earlier than planned, taking her to Cedar Point just so I could relax a little!
I returned to Cross Keys a few days later with a whole new attitude of respect and honor toward my female students. Then a tandem student named Shari who had been watching us jump all day came up to me and said, “I really want to fuck a skydiver,” and it all went out the window.
For the next few years, all the trips and visits with my daughter took place off a drop zone, and I was able to pretend to some degree that it had all been a bad dream—just the horrible imaginings of a demented mind. There was no way that this sweet little girl I was helping to guide through life would make the rounds on a DZ, but would instead save herself for the med student she would fall madly in love with, sometime in her 25th year of life. She would not find herself as Shari had, making sure to aim her head in the direction of travel because if you do it sideways the trailer almost falls over. I was able to keep illusions like that going for a long time.
Well, my darling little daughter is now a 16-year-old with a driver’s license, an Audi convertible and hormones. Karma being in full swing, she thinks skydivers are cool as hell, still talks about “Jacko” to this day, and to my complete and total horror is a huge fan of the movie “Magic Mike.” Talk about irony!
Luckily for me, she is still too young to jump. Luckily for me, it isn’t at the top of her list. And, luckily for me, she didn’t really like flying in the wind tunnel … right up until I found out that she didn’t like flying in the wind tunnel because she didn’t want to look foolish as a beginner in front of the cute guy that was in with us.
So the dilemma for a skydiver dad? Do I talk down about the guys in the sport in the hopes that she’s not gonna want to jump in the sack with one? That’s a tough one, because, like all parents, I want my kid to think her dad is cool and not a complete pig. Do I try and dissuade her from making a jump when she wants to, denying her the experience that forever changed my life for the better? Do I clamp my eyes shut and gamble that she makes the choices I HOPE she will make?
Thankfully, I have a really cool kid! One who I am able to have very upfront and honest conversations with. Thankfully, I have a kid who is much more aware than a lot of adults I know, and one who I trust will make pretty damn good decisions all on her own. She is also like most kids her age, trying not to be like either of her parents—which is really great since her mother, my ex, went and told her that daddy used to be a stripper!
Question: “So Dean, you ever gonna let your daughter make a skydive?”
Answer: “As long as she doesn’t go to a fucking drop zone to do it!”
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