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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Caution, I recommend it.

With the weather warming and people spending more time outdoors there has been a subtle shift in televised news.  Warnings about space heaters and carbon monoxide poisoning form gas furnaces in need of maintenance are being replaced by the hazards of back yard swimming pools, barbecue grill safety tips, and the dangers of trampolines.  All of these are very timely, important, and likely to bring in viewers and advertising revenue, (call me paranoid, and call me silly, but don't call me and tell me that local news is anything more than a way to pander to public suspicion, grab attention, and..., never mind, we will get into that in another post).

Honestly, I try to exercise great caution when using a grill, and have a pretty clean safety record, and we grill often.  A few minor burns, some charcoal like burgers, and some uncontrolled swearing, but that is the extent of the grilling troubles (though, there was a time when we lived in our apartment that the little boy next door (Daniel Boone Williams, they were from Kentucky) bounced his basketball off of our grill, knocking it over, and spilling  red hot briquettes, and our steaks all over the patio, but no one was hurt, and since it was not my fault I don't count that little incident).  We don't have a pool, neither do any of our immediate neighbors, so no need to worry about that.  But, there is a cautionary tale of trampoline disaster that needs to be told.

It happened long ago, when I was very young.  In a place that is only a distant memory now.  But, the horror, and disastrous consequences are still with me, even today, when I have trouble remembering to take my medicine (sorry, Doc, but I am getting better).  Following me, a dark, terrible shadow, a storm cloud of awful portent, and terror.  If you are a little squeamish you might want to stop reading now, and if you use my blog as a bedtime tale for children this is not suitable for your babies.  But, it should be told, so no one else has to suffer.

It was spring, and the weather was fantastic, and my friend and I were walking home from school.  As is so often the case with two elementary age children, in small towns in the Midwest we took meandering, circuitous routes home.  Walking down alleys, jumping fences, cutting through yards.  Life was simple, and we were free, and things were as wonderful as they could be.  After all, we were out of school, and had hours before dinner, the world was at our command, and we took advantage of it.

One day we walked down an alley, and noticed a trampoline in the backyard.  This yard had a gate facing the alley, we didn't even have to jump the fence.  The gods of youth had smiled upon us.  We jumped and jumped and laughed, and then we went home, tired, sweaty, and happy.  Already we were planning our return visit.

We did this for several days, each day we became a little more adventurous, jumping, flipping and just living the heck out of our lives, on this borrowed trampoline, we even made plans to bring snacks, and drinks, in those days there was no bottled water, so we would have to dig out a canteen, or something similar.  It was worth it, though.  Life was so good.

Then it happened.  Like all stories of exuberant youth, we thought we were invincible, and it almost cost us everything.  Again, if you are not comfortable with graphic, obsessive description of disaster it may be a good time to look away.2

We were jumping and enjoying, and planning, and scheming, and then like a demon from the depths, it exploded in our faces.

"You kids get off my trampoline, and out of my yard, or I will shoot you!"  Yes, friends, we almost died using that trampoline.   Exercise caution, danger is everywhere.

I am so glad to get that out in the open, it was almost cathartic.