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ParaFAIL: How I got jerked 450 feet in the air via giant wedgy

This is the story of how I went cursing, hurling and hurdling toward a horrified group of tourists at about 30 miles per hour—then belly-flopped on a speedboat and swore off water sports for good.


A while back I went snorkeling in Puerto Rico, and that ended with me vomiting in the ocean. Repeatedly. Not from being on the boat, mind you. But from the physical act of snorkeling.

With each bounce and bump of the waves, I’d yack. I puked and puked and puked some more until there was nothing left, except the dry heaving.

I became something of a novelty.

“People get seasick all the time. Usually we put people in the water and it stops, but you are the exact opposite,” the first mate said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

No one has, sir.

I keep getting asked, what was it like? And all I can equate it to is being jerked off the back of a hauling-ass-boat via giant wedgy.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. I swam with stingrays and didn’t get stabbed in the heart like Steve Irwin. I considered this a win. I also swore off water sports.

Like most of my swear-offs, it lasted less than a month.

A few weeks later—on my birthday, no less—I was back at the ocean. This was our annual family trip and marked my losing more than 150 pounds. With the weight loss, I discovered that for the first time in about 10 years I was “small” enough to do activities that had been previously off limits to me because of my weight.  The newfound freedom to have real life experiences was too great. So I insisted my husband and I sign up to parasail.

He protested.

“Its expensive …”

“I don’t care for heights …”

“It won’t be worth it …”

But I am persistent, and also his mommy totally made him.

So there we were on my birthday, harnessed up in a speedboat somewhere off the coast of South Padre Island.

My husband was skeptical at best. I was sure this was going to be the most amazing experience of my life. Perhaps I should have been more specific because parasailing was amazing, but it was also painful, nauseating and horrible.

I keep getting asked, what was it like? And all I can equate it to is being jerked off the back of a hauling-ass-boat via giant wedgy. Before you know it, you are hanging out at about 450 feet, looking down at the blue ocean below. Mark described it as “spiritual.” That is not the word I’d use.

I wasn’t at my highest altitude for more than a few moments when OH MY GAWD, THE VOMITING, Y’ALL. I couldn’t stop puking. I was a volcano of bile and stomach acid, which you would think would cause a terrible mess. But because of the strong winds, the contents of my stomach drifted off before completing their decent into the ocean, which took two and a half seconds.

I know, because I counted.

After four or five minutes of gagging and praying for the sweet release of death, I decided perhaps if I motioned downward they’d reel me in. Nope. They thought I was waving. So onward we went across the bay.

By 10 minutes, I was in full panic. I felt like my body was out of control; the harness was cutting off circulation to my lower extremities, and my “air” sickness was as powerful as ever.

Just as I began to think I was going to be the first person to ever die from a giant wedgy, they started reeling me in. That is when I heard some shrill woman start screaming something like, “GET ME DOWN FROM HERE, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!”

It wasn’t until I was careening wildly toward the deck of the boat that I realized I was that woman.

For a moment the boat’s captain and the first mate just stared at me. I could tell they’d never been in this particular situation before. Never had they reeled in an overweight, puking woman who refused to land the proper way, on her ample ass.
“STICK YOUR LEGS OUT STRAIGHT,” the first mate screamed back to me.

But I couldn’t move.

I don’t know if it was panic or that the harness had awkwardly shifted, but my body was longer my own.

“STICK YOUR LEGS OUT!” he yelled again.

“I CAN’T, YOU LITTLE SHIT MONGER!”

Oh, the crazy lady is back. And she is in charge. Awesome.

For a moment the boat’s captain and the first mate just stared at me. I could tell they’d never been in this particular situation before. Never had they reeled in an overweight, puking woman who refused to land the proper way, on her ample ass.

So there I hovered. And that voice! That crazy woman just kept screaming obscenities.

“GET ME DOWN. I’M FUCKING SICK.” (Insert—or should I say extract?—more vomit here.)

Finally the two young men gave up. I was noncompliant, and they were just going to have to get me on the boat.

The last thing I remember before impact is glaring at a boat full of horrified tourists unsure of what to do about the fat lady hurling and hurdling toward them at about 30 miles per hour. (That’s about 26 knots for all you seamen out there.)

And that is the story of how I belly-flopped onto the deck of a speedboat.

I wish it ended there. It doesn’t.

I’m not sure if it was adrenalin or just relief that I was no longer vomiting in free fall, but after I lay on that deck for a few moments, it didn’t seem like I was hurt. So got to my feet and threw my arms up in triumphant victory. This was met with the stares of all those people I’d been cussing and puking at moments before.

They could not have been more relieved to get off that boat and away from me.

It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the extent of my injuries.

A giant hematoma had appeared on my arm near my elbow, which I’d used to protect most of my head. My legs were covered in what I can only describe as deck burn, and a small wound on my side was red and swollen. It was like being in a car wreck—without the car. I couldn’t get out of bed without assistance.

By Thursday, the small wound was getting worse, so I went to my family doctor, who I then told the entire story. Apparently getting stabbed by rusty decking will make you sick. So she put me on a regimen of antibiotics and wound care.

As the doctor—who I adore—was taping me up, she asked me why I did it.

“Why parasailing?”

I told her because it was the first time in a decade I wasn’t held hostage by my weight.

“I did it because I was finally able to!” I exclaimed proudly.

After a brief pause, she very gently said, “You know, just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should.”

Photo by Reld MacDonald

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Arie Wilson Passwaters

Mrs. Sasswaters is a professional writer and editor living the good life in Houston, Texas, with her husband, baby girl and plethora of animals (including an ornery pug.) She excels at drinking beer, crafting and sewing poorly and using profanity well. Ask Mrs. Sasswaters anything @mommapug.
November 12, 2014
  • http://www.therecoveringpessimist.me Jae Walton

    I was dry heaving while reading this story. It’s a good thing when your storytelling can make a reader feel your pain. Sorry that experience didn’t quite work out for you. Kudos for you doing it to begin with. When you aren’t able to do something for so long, you jump at the opportunity to finally do it.

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