Disclaimer: Do not try this at home.
My name is Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta. And I am a Jackass.
“Jackass” was a television show that aired three seasons on MTV, between 2000 and 2002. Back then I was having too much fun in my real life to pay attention and poo-poo’d the show as something I was above watching. Then when I started dating someone who was into the show — and the movies — I realized, “That’s me, I am a Jackass.”
As a kid, I wouldn’t say I was a tomboy. In fact, I was bad at most sports. But I did many things that were a bit daring, like somersaults on a balance beam in gymnastics class. I also loved Evel l Knievel and did pop-a-wheelies with my bike. And one time built a ramp so I could do some jumps.
We always had a pool and I could never master a perfect dive, but I could do a somersault in mid-air into the water. That was my “go-to” feat at parties. When everyone else was being boring eating and drinking beer, I was the one doing somersaults off the diving board into the lake.
“There she is, showing off again,” some jealous bitch would say.
Why was being natural showing off? I do not know. People have done way more exciting stunts. I was just doing what felt free and natural. But I did notice as I got closer to age 30, my back would be a bit tender after doing these flips.
Then there was the big one. The most Jackass thing I ever did — decades before Jackass. In the summer of 1989, at age 25, on a canoe trip, I jumped off a 100 foot bridge into the Delaware River (New Jersey). It was the most exhilarating thing. It was a greater high than jumping off the diving board because it took forever to hit the water. Then once I hit the water I went so deep I thought I wasn’t going to come up. Then when I did come up, I had to swim against a current. I swam and swam and swam and didn’t get anywhere. Next thing I knew, a guy was swimming towards me, to rescue me.
Many people cheered. I was the first girl who ever jumped off that bridge, at that time. (The next year another girl did it).
Then when I thought it was all over, a cop was waiting for me and the two other guys who also jumped. There were signs everywhere that said “No jumping.” I honesty didn’t see them because I took out my contacts lens to do the jump (I didn’t want to lose them).
The cops didn’t arrest me (or the two guys). He gave one of them a ticket for all three of us. And that was that.
Later we all got to talking. I was so lucky. There were vessels under the water. I didn’t hit one. I was also lucky I didn’t crack my tailbone. I was also told, down the line, I’d “pay” for what I did. Aches and pains would show up later in life.
But that didn’t stop me. The next summer I was swinging from a rope on a tree over a river. And let’s not forget skateboarding and jumping on rollerblades.
Little by little, I slowed down, but never turned down a good opportunity to do my flips. In later years, it was no longer into water, but on hotel beds and couches. Children loved me at parties. I’d be the adult playing with them and pushing my limits. I was also big into yoga, getting myself into admirable positions. In my 40s, and even 50s, I felt immortal.
I am now 58 and feeling a bit…defeated. Last week I felt a small lump on the back of my neck and had it checked out. I got x-rays and I have arthritis in my neck. The chriopractor said it was from sports. I guess you could consider all my Jackass stunts “sports.” I never saw myself as an athletic person. Nor did I ever think any of this stuff I did was a big deal. I thought doing it showed I was healthy and flexible. I never in my wildest dreams thought it would catch up to me. Most of this stuff I hadn’t thought about in years. But when the chiropractor said my issues were due to what I did in the past, I thought long and hard. I also remembered I was in two car accidents and never got x-rays. I’m not beating myself up. Many young people believe they are immortal. This is normal. We don’t think we’ll get old.
But time marches on. Everything catches up to everyone. I now feel aches in my neck. Luckily I don’t struggle with back pain. But maybe someday I will. God only knows. The chiropractor wanted me to get a full spine x-ray. I did yesterday and await the results. The good news, he said, was that I have great posture and am in good shape. Most of his patients are overweight.
I recently read about a man who struggled with arthritis and due to becoming vegan his pain went away. I’m a fairly new vegan, and I believe my pain will be managed as well. I think my neck hurts because of the stress — discovering the lump (thinking maybe it’s cancer), going from primary care doctor to a dermatologist to x-rays to acupuncture to a chiropractor to more x-rays all in the course of a week. It was exhausting.
I’m told to stretch, stretch, stretch. I always thought I was a stretcher. I do yoga every day. But I guess it’s not enough. The older you get, the more you have to put into your body. I thought I was doing so much, but now I need to do more. I was also told that being a professional writer for over 25 years, it has it’s wear and tear on the neck as well. The chiropractor sees this in many professions – like hairstyling and accounting. Anything that needs intense focusing. While writing my books, I’d work hours straight without getting up for a drink or to go to the bathroom. So, it all makes sense.
Do I regret becoming a writer? No way. Do I regret my Jackass stunts? No. It was all good for my spirit. The lesson here is not regrets, but to live with what I have to work with. And moving forward, I will. But I really do wish there was a Jackass Anonymous, so I can talk to others who have done kinda crazy things in their youth and realize I am not alone.
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: email@example.com.
She is the author of the following books:
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You
Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats