11 August 2008

In Search of Lost Limbs*

Excuse me while I cut with a knife the suspense in the air caused by Friday's post. Anyone care for a slice? No? More for me, then. I'll just move on to today's post:

By the time I got back to the party from my distant parking spot, the kids were already in the thick of a tangled mass of bouncing toddler bodies. Note that I didn't mind the walk at all, since I'm always compulsively looking for chances to get steps, but I was eager to see what wonders this party would hold. The first thing I saw upon walking in, even before confirming my children weren't being trampled to death in a Bouncy House**, was a giant, two-story inflatable slide.

I felt drawn to this magnificent mountain in a way that only those who allow destiny to take firm control of their rudder would recognize. I knew something special had been foretold to happen here, and I must not let something as simple as a ceremony commemorating three years since a child's birth interfere with Lady Fortune having her way with me.

I went through the usual pleasantries and dropped our present off with the others, but my eye, and my heart, was always on this monument of mirth. Once I was informed that adults were welcome to enter the bouncy castle, I mourned my self-imposed restriction from bouncing around in it like a carefree child, knowing I would end up breaking some kid's face, but at the same time my mind's eye*** turned happily back to The Slide. I called D- over and casually asked him if he had tried the slide yet. All I had to do next was reel that sucker in right out of his shallow pool and sail over slidewards.

Sometimes you just gotta sacrifice your own fun for the sake of your kids', you know?

I suppressed my smile down to "oh, aren't kids cute when they're excited about silly little trifles" level and giddily scaled the slide's bouncy built-in staircase. We got to the top, counted to three, and took off down The Widowmaker. To complete my dalliance in the realm of childhood traditions, I immediately donated half my elbow skin to the waxed vinyl Valhalla that is Pump It Up.

With my many years of practice, I was able to play it cool, but man, the gaping hole that used to be my elbow still stings a bit, over four days later. I'm thinking of contacting the Museum of Science and Industry to find out if they're interested in putting me on display**** to give small children the opportunity to see what the inside of a real, live human elbow looks like.

Despite the pain, I went down that slide with D- and a very happy M- many more times, but you'd better believe I was keeping a close watch on all exposed skin. D-, of course, paid little attention to my warnings and left with his flesh unmolested sheerly by the favor of the fickle gods of epidermal abuse. Less forgivable was my wife J- getting her own tiny burn on her only trip down about 40 minutes later-- I guess I was too stoic to make her believe that slide really was hungry in a way that only human-meat can satisfy.

I can't help but wonder if this place has a surreptitious profit center in harvesting small patches of skin and selling them to burn units all over the world, but that's unimportant compared to the discomfort I felt later that day in trying to use an armrest for its named purpose.

And so we arrive back at the promised reason I didn't post on Thursday-- I accept no substitutes in any area of life^, and if I couldn't sit here in my chair resting each and every one of my limbs completely while desperately continuing my as-yet-fruitless chase of something worthwhile to write about, then I wasn't going to come here and try to do it like some kind of pathetic three-legged table. You deserve better.


Epilogue: For additional and expanded excuses, I offer the following appendix:

· I am a creature of habit, and none of those habits has ever included nursing the stump of an elbow. Especially not with about 100 pounds of pressure against the business end of a fuzzy chair.

· By the time we drove home after a couple hours of bouncing and then pizza, cake, and presents, it was after noon, and we were all exhausted from our unnaturally early foray into civilization. We tried to nap (some of us more effectively than others, unfortunately) for a few hours after that, and by then, any hopes for recovering to my usual schedule were in vain.

· I am very lazy. This must be exceedingly apparent to even the most casual of readers. I consider it a disability, and thus it would be rude for anyone to point it out or even fault me for it.

* Or, Remembrance of Skin Peeled

** My brothers and I always called these things Moonwalks as kids, probably because that was the brand name of the one they used at our grade school's fun fair, but most people I've meant seem to call them Bouncy Castles or Bouncy Houses. I was there was a universal generic term to use, because
somehow "inflatable structure" doesn't have the right ring to it. Precision with utility in language is just the kind of thing I wish for in life, ranking right there before World Peace.

*** Picture the unblinking, all-seeing eye floating above the Dark Tower in The Lord of the Rings.

**** In case anyone there is reading this-- it would be a limited display, no doubt, but likely the only one of its kind. I'd like someone to get something useful out of my suffering, since my family seemed to learn nothing from my example. You could pay me in amusing trinkets from the gift shop and delicious fried foods from the cafeteria.

^ With the only exceptions being whenever I want to.


J.L. Danger said...

Those things have always scared me for that specific reason! If you stand at the bottom of the slide chute and look up, it looks like a giant gaping mouth! No?!

Allison said...

Please tell me this is not the norm. Do kid bday parties really start at 9:15 a.m.? I am already worried about several issues revolving around parenting and sleep is No. 1. Is noon not acceptable?

Swirl Girl said...

Love the bouncy slide but not the bouncy houses! I , too, have ridden the rubber at several kids parties, my own included (child's party, not my party)

And the only kids party that I have ever been to at 9:frickin' 15 in the morning has been a Bar Mitzvah ceremony! Hope the birthday receipient is a really good friend!

Kat said...

We called them Moonbounces too when I was growing up outside Washington, D.C. Maybe a regional thing?

unmitigated me said...

Still call 'em moonwalks here in Motown. Dude, I think they are collecting DNA samples, but maybe I read too much Michael Crichton.

Brittany said...

Oh, maybe it's secretly run by some kind of crazed Buffalo Bill serial killer, who is fed up with trying to lure chubby girls into stone pits, and, rather, has found gradually collecting discarded pieces of skin at children's birthday parties is far more productive in completing his creepy skin outfit.

Just throwing another possibility out there.

sarah said...

Thanks for the laugh, I needed it!
I can relate to the bouncy house urges! And the resulting skin-less elbows!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Sorry to say I LMAO over this post. Nicely done.

Kori said...

I did not know what they were called when I was younger, as we didn't have them where I grew up. And frankly, you could not give me enough fried foods and trinkets to make it worth even one trip down or in or on. No thanks. You are a brave man, and I sincerely hope you were the one who was able to effectively nap.

Anonymous said...

Anything worth having is worth the pain. Or not. Depends on how much pain.

Anonymous said...

To Allison - No, normal birthday parties do not start at 9:15 a.m. That seems like an ungodly hour to have to show up for a festive party. Unless it's taking place at a Starbucks.

But I love a good bounce house. I will kick kids out of the flap so I can enjoy some alone bounce time.

Sorry about the elbow, dude!

LiteralDan said...

J.Danger: I suppose a little, but it's at least a fun ride through that digestive system. Except when you get a bit eaten.

Allison: I don't think it was the norm, or at least it wasn't when I was a kid-- I don't think that has changed, but we haven't been to too many birthday parties yet (preschool starts this fall so it will probably start coming up more often).

I think this was just an odd situation with date/time availability of this place-- they probably would have picked later if they could.

Swirl Girl: I liked it better when you were saying that you rented an inflatable slide for your birthday party. But you know, we're grownups-- why can't we do whatever we want no matter what anyone thinks? What did we grow up for??

I say we all rent stuff like this for our next birthday, and tell everyone to just let go and ride the rubber, as you say. But do make sure to clarify before you say that what kind of party you are having, to avoid any potentially awkward situations.

Kat Yeah I have a feeling that since there isn't a good generic name for them, everybody picked their own, probably influenced by whatever names the company that was the biggest in that area used.

Middle Aged woman: You can never read too much Michael Crichton. Even State of Fear, because it offers some good balance to stifling environmentalist bullying tactics, without being bought and paid for or generally coming from an evil point of view.

Brittany: You win hands down for best comment on this post. Please stop by the front desk for your Homemade Sticker of Recognition.

sarah: You're welcome. And we all have bouncy-house urges. I believe they makes pills to suppress them, though.

Half-Past Kissin' Time: Hey, don't be sorry. It's my goal in life-- glad to know I succeeded!

Kori: Are you sure they didn't have those where you grew up? I'm thinking that maybe they had a few for the rich kids, but even given that fact, they kept them all at the top of giant hills, and while you were bouncing, they moved them to the bottom of the hill on the other side, thereby assuring you had to walk uphill both ways, if you could even scrub enough toilets to make enough money to afford 2 minutes of bouncing or one slide down? You should totally push that story instead.

And as for naptime-- not a chance! I had to deal with M- babbling and demanding to be taken out to play.

Mary: Well, your final thought stole my response. Like babies, for instance-- they trick people* into being forced to birth them even though they are totally not worth the pain. (This is where I try to curry favor with the ladies.)

* Women, specifically.

blissfullycaffeinated: The nice thing was that it wasn't crowded at all, so everybody had room to bounce-- I could have gone wild in there but I just couldn't bring myself to. There were two 18-month-olds (including mine) and a pregnant lady in there, after all, in addition to the usual array of older children and a father much more willing to let go and throw balls at children (in the best possible way).

I tried throwing one ball at D- (because I didn't want to risk taking someone else's kid out), and he of course ducked at the last minute and took it in the face. These are the things that happen to me, so I reiterate that there was no way I could go bouncing around. :-(

Thank you for your sympathies.

SherE1 said...

That's hilarious! I love using my kids for an excuse to play in those things, too!

LiteralDan said...

I use my kids as an excuse for all kinds of things. It's great!