July 7, 2012
This is either the most thrilling thing I've ever done or the world's most effective colonic. Maybe both.
I'm down in the County a L'Orange, in designer-perfect Newport Beach. It's where a lot of us superheroes hang out these days. Superheroes, who are spiritually and emotionally only in the seventh grade, are drawn to bikinis and Balboa Bars, the world's best dessert.
What I'm drawn to right now, though, is a rental place called Jetlev, where one of the first things they do is hoist one of these jet packs upon you. It weighs about as much as a good set of clubs, which isn't much, till you try to swim with it.
First time in the water, I immediately roll over onto my face, then guppy-kick myself over. Surviving that, they hit the throttle and shoot me up in the air. One-hundred bucks is all this costs.
One of the first things I notice is that my back porch is under enormous pressure.
"It's 500 pounds of thrust," the friendly blond tulip tells me when she gears me up on the launch boat.
Married, I am really only used to 1 or 2 pounds of thrust, and then very infrequently. Subsequently, 500 pounds of thrust seems like a lot to me. Maybe too much. Yet, for only $100?
As I said, a lot of this thrust translates to the heavily padded bicycle seat on which your rear-end rests.
Anyway, I'm now flying 20 feet over Newport Harbor, which makes for a tremendous view and not much time to ponder your problems, other than to acknowledge your privates are under NASA-level G-force.
"Want to submarine now?" the guy at the controls (Josh) asks through a headset.
No, I do not want to submarine now. What I want to do is go over to Cassidy's and have a cold beer. A bar stool won't be necessary, for all the reasons just discussed.
Besides, I saw the customer before me perform "the submarine," and it looked like the sort of thing only pelicans should attempt.
Technically, what you do to accomplish a submarine is thrust your two handles straight down, which torpedoes you under water for a few seconds, then you yank upward and — WHAM! WHOOOOSH! — out of the water you rip like a Trident missile.
As with a lot of things — big-wave surfing, open-heart surgery — it's fun to watch but nothing you'd ever want to attempt personally.
Then I remember I'm a superhero for the day, and what the hell, my kids will probably kill me anyway. So I go for it, which is how I roll, but only on impulse. Or if I've been drinking a little.
"You're death-gripping the controls!" the dude on the launch boat tells me.
Yes, I am.
Note that I do all my own stunts. And if Tom Cruise ever attempted this in a movie, there'd be a dozen lifeguards and a helicopter just in case. With me, there's a guy named James on a water scooter, the before-mentioned blond tulip (Johnnie, a soon-to-be supermodel) and 10 retirees cruising by in an electric boat, going, "What's Batman doing? Has he had some sort of seizure?"
"Background" is usually the death of great narrative, but here's a little: There are only about a dozen of these rocketman outlets in the entire country. Out west, there are a mere three: in Hawaii, Lake Havasu and here in Newport Beach.
Based on jet boat technology, the jet packs were developed in Florida and are available for about $100,000. Till the prices come down, most people try them at rental places like Jetlev (book through Zozi or LivingSocial for discounts).
This isn't for everyone. If you haven't been off the couch in 20 years, it's a sure route to chest pains and a 911 call. But if you're reasonably active, comfortable in the water and a bit of a showoff, just go for it.
I'd compare it to a deep-water start in barefoot water skiing, a comparison only about 0.3% of you can relate to.
Point is, this is one of the most thorough colonics a superhero could ever have. The lowest throttle setting is called "flush."
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