I dont like heights. I get a cold sweat on my forehead just being on The Echos verandah and thats on the first floor.
I even get clammy hands wearing high heels. (Did I say that? Of course I dont wear high heels. Ha ha. I meant Cuban heels. Like on my manly cowboy boots.)
Last Friday my neighbour had a workday. A roof-building workday.
I knew I had to get on that roof or suffer the public shame of being less than a man. One thing all roofs have in common is that theyre off the ground. Like hippies, theyre high by nature.
But I can confront my fears.
Like, Ive always been scared of the idea of not having a wine at night. Yum. And Coopers. Yum, yum. And...
So I decided to give up drinking. For a month. Now, a month is a long time. Smartly, I chose February.
28 nights. Four of them Friday nights. And me so straight I could be a Mormon. (You can wear white shirts when youre a Mormon. No wine stains.)
I have learnt that you can have fun without alcohol. Its just harder.
But anyway, back to the roof.
With a bravery distilled from a sobriety more reckless than a drunken footy fan, I grabbed the aluminium ladder and ascended.
Ladders are the stairways to acrophobic hell. Theyre evil.
When I played snakes and ladders as a kid, I preferred to slide down the snakes onto ground level and be a loser than to climb the ladder to giddy success.
There are no women on this potential roof. They have long followed the snake. (Embrace the apple-bearing snake.)
Theres blue insulation paper spread over the rafters. This paper will not support the weight of a Chinese electric drill let alone a sober Australian acrophobic of some bulk.
The other blokes were walking easily across this paper roof, each foot landing confidently on a hidden rafter.
Reaching the top of the ladder, I crawled onto the roof. I crouched on all fours, perched on two rafters, frozen by the irrational fear.
The thing about not drinking is that everything gets serious.
I mean, seriously, with global warming, peak oil, Warmongers Inc, and my having to pay for Cheneys visit, the world is really screwed up. So, who ya gonna call? Your cobbers! What ya gonna do? Drink!
Or get sober and serious.
So Im getting serious. No more being pushed around by fear. I am bigger than my fears!
Gritting my teeth and like the first homo-ape to get a stiff back, I straightened up and stood erect. On my feet. As high as God. As proud as a Titan.
I looked down at the blue featureless insulation paper that lay in front of me. This was an ocean I had to cross to reach the farther shore where my work lay.
Bravely, soberly, I stepped out. I walked across that bright blue sea like Jesus proving a point. Heart pounding, I reached the far frontier.
Though I was mentally and physically drained, I prepared to hammer my first nail of the day.
Then came a call from a safely grounded woman eating an apple.
Lunch is ready!