Got A Light?

The other day, apparently struck by the fact that my yard, despite its healthy covering of weeds, broken toys and mateless shoes, still did not yet scream “White Trash!”, I got a trampoline. Or rather, as I keep insisting over and over, I borrowed a trampoline from the neighbors down the street who, in a stroke of devious genius that was as impressive as it was unscrupulous, claimed that they were no longer allowed to keep the trampoline in their own yard because of “insurance issues” but who, in reality, are probably at this very moment planning how to spend the windfall they will receive from my insurance company when their children fall off of the damn thing as it sits in my yard. (The Costa Rican beach house brochures on their kitchen counter were my first clue).

On the day of the big move, however, visions of lawyers and home insurance representatives camped out on my front doorstep were still somewhere far off in the distance; our attention was solely focused on how to get our new bouncy addition from yard A to yard B in the fewest possible steps. Despite bringing the mental powers of four adults to bear, however–perhaps because our previous “test” jumping sessions had managed to funnel all of our brains down into our feet–we somehow came to the conclusion that the best way to move the trampoline would be to carry the whole thing intact; since our two yards are only a minuscule 100 feet apart from each other (as the crow flies), this seemed, at first glance, reasonable. However, it did not take us long to realize that, while crows may fly, trampolines do not, and to move this trampoline those minuscule 100 feet would require a circuitous trip through back yard gates and down narrow, tree-lined alleys. To further complicate matters, it turns out that our back gate, having been run into more times than driven through, no longer opens fully. This meant that the entire contraption had to be hoisted above our heads and lifted over a six-foot chain link fence, with the wives (it’s always the wives) walking backwards through a veritable minefield of weed shrouded Tonka trucks the whole time.

It was at that exact moment of peril that something very odd happened: nothing. This was odd because it is usually at moments like those, when I am stuck with my shaking arms over my head and a trampoline on the throat only one unseen dumptruck away that one of my children will decide to thrust a banana under my nose and ask “Can you open this?” In fact, given their previous track records of asking me to wipe their butts while I am up on an extension ladder painting the eaves, or make them a peanut butter sandwich while I am on the toilet (helpfully bringing the bread, peanut butter and a knife all in to me), it seemed like this would’ve been the perfect time for them to ask a question of that sort.

For some reason, however, they did not; perhaps it was because they were so amazed at our ingenuity/stupidity in the field of trampoline transportation, or maybe, having noticed the power lines swaying ominously just inches over the metal-framed trampoline held above our heads, they were savoring the thought of their soon-to-be parentless existence; regardless of the reasons, this time they just stood there with their mouths agape.

Alas, the mysterious truce did not last long: no sooner had I climbed up on top of our new (temporary!) trampoline than Clyde appeared standing next to it, orange in hand; even though when he spoke I was already high into the air on my first jump, I could still clearly hear him as he asked me, “Open?”

(This column was written for my soon-to-be former neighbors, Way and Kim, who are moving this week and who promise to take their trampoline with them. The ‘hood just won’t be the same without you guys.)

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