Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jim's Trampoline

After my family moved to Lake Drive, taking our trampoline with us, Jim's parents got him one. It was one of the more modern round ones that you still see around today. It wasn't covered in padding and fenced in with a net, but the metal wasn't quarter inch steel plate either, so it was a little safer than our old square one. A number of things happened on that old trampoline and I intend to share a few of them.

Jim and I loved to trampoline fight, as you may recall from earlier stories. One of the things that Jim loved to do was to double bounce me and send me flying to outrageous heights. By this time we were ten or thereabouts so I was around four foot nothing and Jim was close to six foot three. I also weighed about half what Jim did, so when he double bounced me it was something to see.

We had been out playing on it for I don't know how long when Jim got me with the perfect double bounce. I don't know what the mechanics behind it were, only that as far as it could be perfect it was. I shot up above the trampoline twelve to fifteen feet. (I know some of you aren't believing this and that's fine, it happened all the same.) I also shot up so fast that Jim didn't see what had happened.

What happened next will take a while to explain, but it all happened in about three seconds. I clearly remember looking down from above and seeing Jim turn around in a circle trying to figure out where I was. He was stunned. I had simply disappeared. He called out to me.

“Jeremy! Where are you?” He said looking this way and that.

“Up!” I said right before I landed.

Jim looked up and saw me, but only a moment before I landed on him. Needless to say I had no control of where I was going. I had gone up and I had to come down, but the “where” wasn't really up to me. As I was falling I could see that I was going to hit Jim, the best I could do was try not to hurt him. I decided the wisest thing would be to try and land with my feet on his shoulders. I managed to do it, just as he looked up. He had no time to react. I am certain that if I had been able to see his eyes I would have noticed some glimmer of sudden comprehension as my feet slammed down on top of his shoulders. As it happened I couldn't see his eyes and I didn't have a lot of time for making observations anyway. I knocked him down and we collapsed into a laughing heap. That was the best double bounce I ever got and I'm sure it was the best Jim ever gave.

We enjoyed the trampoline so much that we would share it whenever we had the chance. Obviously any kids that were around were more than welcome to come have a bounce, but we didn't limit it to people. Dogs, cats and whatever other animals we could get up there with us were welcome. In fact we were so opened minded that we had a snake come up for a bounce one day.

Jim and I found this young green snake crawling along through the grass. Being the type boys we were we immediately picked it up. It was emerald green and very small. It couldn't have been over a foot long and it was about as big around as a pencil. It had enough sense not to bother trying to bite us. It just slithered slowly through our hands trying to get away.

“So what do you want to do with it?” Jim asked as it curled around his hand.

“I don't know. Something.” I relied.

“Well obviously, but what?”

“I guess we could put it on the trampoline and give it a bounce.”


Without further debate we crawled up and started bouncing. At first we kept the little guy in our hands as we bounced around, but then we decided to let him go solo. As soon as we put him down he started to make a break for it. I suppose he figured it he could get back in the grass he would be over the hills and far away before we could do anything about it.

As he started to head one direction we would bounce him back in another. We had to be very careful not to step on him and not to bounce him too hard. Seeing the snake trying to slither while hanging in midair was something else. He just kept moving no matter what. As soon as his body hit the mat he would be moving along. Then, before he could move a foot, he would be bouncing back in the opposite direction while still slithering with all he had.

I'm not sure to what extent snakes think. I believe most of their actions are guided by instinct and that they do very little actual thinking. I mention this because it's hard to believe that the snake came up with a plan. However, it's equally hard to believe that it was inspired by instinct with a method to get out of the situation it was in.

Whatever it's motivation it suddenly when limp. It bounced whichever way it was heading without putting up any resistance. We stopped bouncing and it just lay there with it's mouth slightly open. Jim and I began to speculate about the cause:

“It can't be dead!” I said as I picked up the little guy.

“It could be...” Jim replied as he looked it over.

“How? We didn't touch it”

“The shock of the bouncing could have been too much for it.”

“I doubt it! Snakes are tough.”

“Maybe it had a heart attack... It couldn't have been used to that kind of thing.”

“I've never heard of a snake having a heart attack... Still, you may be right.”

“What should we do?”

“Let's just put it in the grass and see what happens.”

That is just what we did. It lay there looking as dead as it could for a few minutes. Finally we decided that we would have to walk away for a little while and give it the chance to notice we weren't there. After around five minutes or so we went back to check on it. The snake was gone. I have no doubt it headed out as soon as it realized we weren't looking. I know that playing dead is a normal getting away method, but I had never seen a snake do it. I also didn't think it would have found bouncing on a trampoline a life threatening situation. Still, in that regard snakes may be wiser than people.

This next tale should stand out as a lesson for mothers. Too many times a mother over-thinks what her children may be up to. I admit that to a certain degree a parent has to do that. Otherwise the child may cut his or her hand off before you get there in time to stop them. However, Jim's mother stumbled into one of the classic blunders. She actually took the time to tell us not to do it before we had even thought of it.

“Boys!” She cried out as she walked out of the back door.

“Yes Ma'am.” We replied.

“Now you know we have the pool setup beside the trampoline?”

“Yes Ma'am.”

“You also know that the trampoline is setup beside the shed?”

“Yes Ma'am.”

“Good! Now, I don't want you two jumping off the shed onto the trampoline and then bouncing into the pool. Do you understand me?”

“Yes Ma'am.”


Having made her point she headed back into the house.

“So... that's a brilliant idea.” I said as soon as she was out of sight.

“I know! I wonder how we never thought of it before.”

“We shouldn't do it though.”

“I know... Let's do it anyway.”

“Yea... it's just too good.”

A few minutes later Jim's Mom came pelting out of the back door. I think the noise we were making was probably what attracted her attention. There was no way to jump off a twelve foot building onto a trampoline and into a pool quietly. She caught us right in the middle of things.


“Yes Ma'am.”

“Didn't I just tell you not to do that?!?!”

“Yes Ma'am...”

“Then why did you do it?!?!?”

“Well, we hadn't thought of it until you mentioned it. After that the idea seemed too goo not to try....”

It may seem hard to believe, but she actually accepted that explanation. I suppose at that moment she had learned a valuable lesson. Don't tell us not to do something that would be that much fun until she actually caught us doing it. With a short warning that we had better not do it again she headed back into the house. Jim and I never did it again. His Mom was kind of like my Dad in some regards. You might be able to get away once, but you wouldn't do it twice.

There are several morals one could take away from these stories. First, buy your kids a trampoline, it's worth every penny. Second, don't mention things your kids shouldn't do, dangerous things aside, until you actually catch them doing it. Third, a snake isn't necessarily dead just because it's not moving and it's mouth is hanging open, so watch your back. Like so many things that happen in life there's a lesson there if you take the time to look.

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