Glass Ceilings, Glass Floors, Wine, and Hot Dogs

By Ernie Witham   |   August 15, 2023
Bottoms up: Wine was the order of the day at the Space Needle, where the author was literally floored by glass

“Wow, what a view, huh?” my wife said.

“Nice,” I said, leaning against the wall as far away from the tall glass panels that slanted outward at a disturbing angle and had a gap on either side large enough to put your arm through. A family walked by, a little kid climbed up onto the bench, which also slants outward, and looked down through the gap. 

“How cute,” the mother said, taking a photo. Several people watched and smiled. 

“Great, if they draw a crowd and everyone up here comes to this side, the thing will probably topple over and we’ll all die.”

“We are not going to topple over,” Pat said reassuringly. I wanted to believe her. I really did, but then a very big guy climbed up on the bench and laid back against the glass in a spread eagle while his girlfriend took photos. This, of course, caused other macho-type guys to repeat the feat. 

Pretty soon, there were people leaning against the glass everywhere. I was sure now that I felt it lean. Suddenly, our trip to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle seemed like an excellent opportunity for a population decrease, including me.

 “Says on the website the Space Needle was built to withstand two-hundred-mile-per-hour winds and nine-point-o earthquakes.”

“It was built in nineteen-sixty-two, that’s more than fifty years ago. I didn’t topple over as much back then either.”

My wife walked closer to the glass. I thought I should ask to hold her purse with the car keys and her Neptune Society cremation card in it. Instead, I took a few steps closer to the glass remembering the famous words of FDR: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That and 201-mile-an-hour winds, apparently. 

I was finally close enough to look down at stuff, mostly roofs and food carts, including the one that sold Seattle Dogs, which had cream cheese and grilled veggies. Seriously! I opted for plain, then smothered it with three different kinds of mustard, relish from a two-gallon can, and 25 or so jalapeños. Those jalapeños were now rebelling.

The other thing I could see now that my vertigo was subsiding was the huge studio glass building built by Dale Chihuly housing one of his many amazing glass sculptures. Earlier, we visited the Chihuly Museum, which contains tons – literally – of sculptures, including a room with a blown-glass ceiling and – I hadn’t broken a single thing. Now looking down, I realized that when we toppled I would no doubt crash right through the one-of-a-kind glass house becoming, for an instant, part of the art exhibit. 

Pat suggested we go inside for a glass of wine, which is how we probably should have started this adventure. That’s when we saw the sign for the stairs that take you to the next floor down, which revolves. 

“Gotta see that,” Pat said.

We found an area near the bar with small tables. Pat bought us some wine and when I put my camera bag down I noticed one of the other features of this level. It has glass floors. Now I could see the garden area of the Chihuly exhibit, blocked out only by my two feet. 

“What does it say on the website about one-hundred-and-eighty-pound guys being on the glass floor.”

“I’m sure it’s fine,” said Pat, stomping on the glass. “See?” She smiled.

“I feel much better now. We should take a selfie, send it to the kids. They can see how much fun we were having on our last day. Perhaps they can show it at the memorial service.”

Pat went for another couple of glasses of wine. I took a minute to look around and count the other people on this level. “Let’s see… one hundred fifty pounds… two hundred at least, one twenty pounds times four…”

“You’re missing the view,” Pat said.

Sure enough, we had rotated all the way around, so we were now looking at the city. Mount Rainier loomed above it, but you could only see the top, so it appeared to be floating in the sky.

“Seattle sure is an exciting place,” said Pat.

I gulped my wine, watching a large family walk heavily by. “Yes. Exciting.”  


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