The Sandspurs

sandspur

This coming Saturday is a busy day for the Tanners.

At around 4 AM, I drop DJ off at the Raleigh-Durham airport.  She’s going to Durbin, South Africa, with her aunt.  A once in a lifetime experience that she will experience… at age 19.

At 9, I pick Michelle up from Camp Kanata, an overnight camp where she will have spent the week with one of her best friends.  She was stoked when I dropped her off last Sunday.

At 3, I drop Stephanie off for four weeks at Camp Seafarer on the coast of North Carolina where she will be a Camper in Leadership Training.

It’s good to be my kids.

When I was younger, often the highlight of a summer day was earning a nickel when my brother bet me I wouldn’t stick my tongue in the sand hole in our backyard.  You could rake that dirt off with about three scrapes from your Incisors.  Well worth it when the ice cream truck came musically down Berkshire Road.

My backyard could be Africa, if I wanted it to.  It could also be sleep away camp or a spaceship or a battlefield.  All we needed was a hole, which my dad dug for us in the back corner of the back yard.  Six of seven of us could fit into it at once.

The principal’s kid lived behind us on the other side of the fence from our fort.  We didn’t like the principal.  We didn’t like his kid either.  My mother, the preacher’s wife, encouraged us to be nice to him, to include him in our group.  We didn’t much listen to her suggestion.  I’m certain it was my brother’s fault.

Today, kids don’t have to pretend.  They’re doing the real stuff!

They don’t even have to deal with sandspurs.  Where did those boogers go?  If you would have pulled all the sandspurs out of my dad’s yard when I was a kid, you’d have been left with a really nice rock collection.  That’s all there was.  Dirt, rock and sandspurs.  They hurt like hell May to mid-June, but come Summer Solstice, our feet were so tough, we could have walked to Africa, barefoot.

We didn’t go to overnight camp.  We didn’t sail or canoe or shoot archery.  Well, we did have a bow with arrows that had a rubber end.  We shot them at each other’s butts.  They seldom stuck, but boy was it exciting when they did.

I’m sure there were camps back when I was a kid.  I saw the movie Meatballs.  Maybe I didn’t go because I wouldn’t leave my mother’s side.  I didn’t want to go to half-day bible school without her and my dad was the minister at the church.  I wasn’t really homesick; she was just a really good mom.

I’m glad my kids are able to do some really cool stuff in the summer.  I’m glad they are having experiences I didn’t have at their age.  I just doesn’t seem fair that I’m at home, working, while they are gallivanting around the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California, Here I Come!

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If it wasn’t going to break in half due to a massive earthquake, I would move to San Diego.  I just spent three days there for a meeting and man, is it a cool place!

I first noticed the difference at the airport.  I take people watching very seriously when in public places.  And the people I watched in California were all beautiful!  The women AND the men!  I saw very few who were overweight.  Folks were walking around the airport with skateboards in tow and muscles bulging.

I swear that the Dali Lama and Shirley McLean were on my flight from LA.  “Shirley” looked to be a healthy seventy-something-year-old.  She sat in an airport chair wearing culottes with her legs tucked up under her behind.  She was more limber than my 13-year-old daughter.  Although she had a bit of dangly skin on the underside of her arms, and who doesn’t at that age, her biceps looked as if they could easily hold the weight of her body in an upside down split on a balance beam.

These Californians dressed casually, had unusually bright colors of hair, and seemed to enjoy open toed shoes.  There weren’t a lot of wing tips strolling around LAX, it was FLIP FLOP haven.

The lush plantings all along the 15 minute drive to my hotel were beautiful.  While it was a balmy 95 degrees at home, we ate outdoors each evening with a slight breeze and a refreshing temperature of 70.

I will admit, the local newscast took some getting used to.  One reporter shared that a man had been shot by his car while meditating on the side of the road.  Thankfully, he was going to be OK.  I wonder why he stopped his car on a seemingly busy highway for quiet and relaxation.  Perhaps the traffic was stressing him out.

I haven’t seen that many people mediate on the Raleigh Beltline, but I might try it.

The weather woman for the morning broadcast wore a short, puffy, bright pink skirt.  Her black blouse was fitted – VERY fitted (and there was a lot to fit.)  I sort of felt like Katy Perry was delivering the five day forecast.  Oh, and I swear she was wearing medium length black socks with her high heels.   It was early, and they only showed her feet once.  Maybe that was just a dream.  High heels and socks?  That’s not something you see at the Fayetteville mall much less on the news in North Carolina.

I return next year for a conference, and I think I’ll stay a while.  Just breathing their air makes me feel all tingly inside.

Rachael Ray Airs Wednesday

Rachael Ray is pictured during the production of "The Rachael Ray Show" in New York on Thursday, March 28, 2016. Photo: David M. Russell/Rachael Ray Show ©2016 King World Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Rachael Ray is pictured during the production of “The Rachael Ray Show” in New York on Thursday, March 28, 2016.  Photo: David M. Russell/Rachael Ray Show  ©2016 King World Productions. All Rights Reserved.

I thought that perhaps they would mention my book, or perhaps help pub up my blog.  Or at a minimum have us help Rachael in the kitchen.  I mean, I can cook chicken nuggets and frozen waffles.

Nah – none of that stuff happened.

But… we did have a great time!

It has been a dream of mine to have a dude in a black suit greet me at the bottom of the airport escalator with my name on a sign:

“Mr. Tanner?  I’m here to transport you to your destination.  May I get your bags?”

I mean who are these people who are so important they don’t have to schlep through luggage and go stand in the taxi line hopeful not to get the one that smells like mothballs or old Chinese food?

Car NYC

Let me tell you… those people are us!

Well, close to us.  Like he wasn’t waiting at the escalator, he was outside.  But he did have a nondescript black sedan, and it did have our name on the side, and he did already know where we were going, because we were very important people, critical to the Rachael Ray Show’s success for the day.

When we arrived at the studio, we were taken to our dressing room.  It had our name outside the door and a bathroom.  And a sign that said hold down the handle when you flush (and not a tacky, hand-written job, it was classy!)  Felt just like home.

Hold handle

They ordered pizza and salad for us (Rachael was interviewing one of the Shark Tank guys so she couldn’t cook) and then interviewed us for a video they were working on to be aired the following day when we taped the show, IN FRONT OF A LIVE (not dead) audience.

At one point, we could hear Ms. Ray outside our door…

It was VERY exciting.

During my interview on the first day, she was talking in the hall, and we had to pause because of the background noise.  Yes, Rachael’s actual, real voice was wreaking havoc on my press time!  I just couldn’t work under those conditions.

That night Rachael’s kind staff hooked us up with two nice rooms at the Hilton on W 26th street.  We put our clothes in one and all slept in the other.

On the second day they sequestered us in a conference room and prepped us for what Rachael might ask.  We were poised, calm, ready for our big break!

We were escorted to makeup where the beauticians did the girls’ hair and applied a bit of makeup.  I went too but there wasn’t much she could do.  She did tell me I had nice hair and then she sponged some stuff under my eyes to hide the bags.  I felt like Boy George.

They kept us in a stairwell and as our taped interview began to air, they rushed us through sound check and trekked us through the set to Ms. Ray’s couch.  I sat right next to her.  She patted my knee to relax me.

When the video ended, all cameras turned to us…

Rachael has a new line of furniture, and we were sitting on her brand new couch!  My tush was actually one of the first tushes to touch that fabric.  Eee-yowza.

She then turned to us, asked where Uncle Jesse was, and I shared that he was working.  She asked the kids two or three questions and then… we had a huge surprise!  DJ Tanner, the real DJ Tanner Candace Cameron-Bure, came out from behind the set!  My girls almost peed their pants which would have been a mess, especially on the new couch.

At the commercial break, they snapped our pic with our two new besties, and then we got to visit with Candace who was extremely gracious.  She even invited us to come out to LA to see them tape their new show, Fuller House.  I gave her my card.  She hasn’t called yet, but we are hopeful.

The show actually airs tomorrow on ABC.  We weren’t on there long so you’ll have to watch quickly.

It was a fabulous experience for my girls and for me.  And the staff at the Rachael Ray Show were really incredible.  Warm, welcoming, professional – what a great experience for our family.

RR Girls Interview

 

 

 

Lights, Camera, Action

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I guess that other families do this too but perhaps we are an anomaly.  If they don’t, perhaps they should.

The smallest, stupidest, things can bring our simple minds so much joy.

Last week when visiting DJ in DC, we discovered that our reading light, when turned the right way, was equivalent to a Broadway Show spotlight.  A Tanner just can’t resist the limelight, even if there is but an audience of three!

This is our rudimentary work.  We call it A Night at the Hamilton, the name of our hotel.

 

 

Be Loved

Homeless Sign

What touched me most was that Wednesday, the day our mission trip with the middle school youth from my church led us to the Be Loved House.  The day before, I got to run the cardboard crusher at the Food Bank.  It was cool.  Really cool.  Tossing out the 50 lb. bags of potatoes into the enormous dumpster, not so cool.  I don’t dig puss oozing spuds.

Two days before, we pulled weeds at a day care center and sorted clothes for a Veteran’s shelter.  Both were jobs that needed to be done, but neither allowed me to interact to a great extent with those we were trying to serve.

But Wednesday, we pulled up to an old house near the heart of downtown.  The white picket fence in front of the dilapidated home was in fairly good shape.  There was a hand spray painted sign that read:  Black Lives Matter.  The cozy front yard had tables with chairs arranged in groups of four or five.

The kids headed in the front door walking through the porch which was set up as a clothes closet for folks who struggle with homelessness.  They didn’t even seem to notice the transgender person having a conversation with a dude in blue jeans at one of the tables.  But I did.  She, like everyone who walked in that house that day, would be loved.  Because in their opinion, if God can love them, they can surely work hard to love others.

I say folks who struggle with homelessness because Amy, the caretaker of the Be Loved House, informed us that they were people first.  I’m not referred to as a Love Handles Person.  I’m just a person who struggles with love handles.

After Amy explained to us that her family intentionally moved into poverty to try to minister to folks who might need them, we walked across the street to the Senior Center with baskets full of vegetables and breads.  Each Wednesday, they give it all away for free.

The kids had the mini farmer’s market under control, so I took it upon myself to sit with the old folks and listen to their stories.  One 98-year-old told me he liked to dance.  So Michelle and her friends came to his table, and we cranked up some bluegrass on the iPhone.  He wasn’t kidding!

I then spent about 20 minutes talking to a woman who was disenfranchised from her entire family.  She was divorced.  Her children and sister didn’t talk to her – she hadn’t seen them in a decade.  Her parents were dead.  She was sitting by herself.  It might be that I am her best friend.

I did take the time to have a conversation with Dee Dee, the woman who was transgender.  Surprisingly, we talked about arthritis.  She just had surgery on her neck.  I have a bit in my thumb joint.  I’m guessing that’s not the only thing we have in common.

On Sundays, Amy washes clothes for folks in the community.  They just drop them off at her house.  I hadn’t thought about not being able to walk to my basement and wash my stuff any time I darn well please.

Queen Mother was a beautiful African-American woman who led singing at our bible study that day.  She lives in the Be Loved House too.  Her personality was big.  She preached to us a bit.  One of the kids asked her if some people thought she was nuts.  She said, “I’m nuts for Jesus!”  Michelle wrote that quote on her fingers with a Sharpie.

When we passed out popsicles at the park, the two women I met encouraged me to let my daughters know how much I love them.  Maybe their father didn’t.  I will heed their advice.  I can’t get over the open sore one had on her nose.

We were told, although it was technically illegal, that folks who looked like us could get away with standing on the lawn under the tree at the large bank in town.  We could also take a nap in the park.  But if we were perhaps black, or unshaven, or in worn clothes, we’d be encouraged to move along.

The kids had to map out a bus route for a hypothetical man named Mike who lived outside of the city because he couldn’t afford the rent in town.  He had to be at McDonald’s by 6 AM to make the biscuits and his $7.50 per hour.  Unfortunately, the bus didn’t start running until 6.  Not sure what I’d do if I was in his situation, maybe stay home and draw unemployment.  Good thing that’s hypothetical.

It’s hard to raise three kids alone.  It’s harder with an annual salary of $15,600.

You know what I missed the most when I was sleeping on the floor of a church building for five nights?  Ice.  I couldn’t readily have ice in my drinks.

Pathetic.

I missed ice.

These women on the streets didn’t have tampons, they didn’t have a place to pee, they carried their belongings, ALL of them, on their backs.  And I missed ice.  I’m ashamed of myself.

There is a lot of mental illness out there.  Some of the folks I met probably take advantage of the system.

Had I been born under different circumstances, maybe I would too.

Good Food

We just returned from the annual Katsopolis family and friend reunion at Capon Springs, West Virginia.  Capon is a modest resort nestled in the corner of West Virginia about an hour and a half from DC.  Lisa’s mother has been going to Capon the third week in August since she was seven years old.

There are many highlights of the week including golf and tennis, a mixed doubles shuffleboard tournament, a spring fed pool (a chilly 68 degrees) and a relatively new addition, their spa.  However, the most favorite activity, as voted on by the Third Week in Capon guests, is EATING!

The food is served family style with eggs cooked to your specific liking every morning.  For the past few years I’ve tried to order them seven different ways – one for each day of the week.

Friday night brings the Talent Show.  Our branch of the Katsopolis family shows well most years, but Uncle Jesse made sure we had a stellar performance this summer.  For those who listen to pop radio, see if you recognize the tune…

Lyrics:

Hey hey hey

Hey hey hey

Hey hey hey

Hey hey hey

We don’t come here, for the golf and tennis

We just come here for what we put in us

Maybe I’ll have some corn, maybe I’ll have some beans

Maybe I’ll have some more of everything

Soon as I smell the rolls, can’t wait to masticate you

One week to eat it all, as much as you are able

They bring more to your table

You don’t need no apron

When you come to Capon

That’s why we can’t wait for…

GOOD FOOD

You know we want it

You know we want it

You know we want it

GOOD FOOD

The plastics classy

Making me gassy

It’s adding inches to my waist line

You know we want it

You know we want it

You know we want it

GOOD FOOD

Ain’t getting thinner

I’m still a winner

What time is dinner?

Freshly sliced tomatoes

Creamy mashed potatoes

It’s a food tornado

PUT THE BIGGEST PIECE ON MY PLATE

I feel so lucky

Cause I’m so hungry

What rhymes with hungry?

Fly Away

busyairports

I think I’d rather drive across country than have to fly.

I had a business trip this week.  It was in Vancouver.  Yeah, out of the country – made it that much worse

Luggage:  Interestingly, on the way to Canada, Delta allowed us to check one bag on the plane at no additional charge.  American Airlines, however, charged me $26 to bring my stuff home!  Isn’t luggage part of a trip?  Shouldn’t it be included in the price?  Does a hotel charge you extra to bring your suitcase in the room?  No.  They assume that if you’re coming in there, you’re not only going to shower and sleep, but you’re probably also going to change your clothes!  When I travel, I’m gonna bring some stuff.  Expect it.  Build it in to the cost of the ticket!  And by the way, you charged me $26 bucks for it, how about you pick it up and toss it on the conveyor belt!!

Security:  In an effort to keep things simple, I wore a pair of loafers  – working to avoid laces as I partially undressed in front of my colleagues in the security line.  They worked out fine, but I was a bit uncomfortable walking on their nasty floor with my bare feet.  As always my iPad and laptop had to be put in a bin by themselves.  What could I hide in there?   Flat Stanley?  In Vancouver, the position of the body x-ray machine was such that I got a full view of my coworker’s anatomy; I think he’s put on a little weight.  I didn’t realize he had a outie belly button.

Food:  I was given a snack today on the plane.  I opened the bag, it was the size of a Polly Pockets’ blanket.  I decided I’d count – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 – yes, there were 13 nuts, or parts of nuts in the bag.  We drop a higher percentage of food on the floor during a meal at our house than they give you on the plane.

Bathroom:  After my “meal,” I needed to pee.  I made my way to the back of the plane.  It’s hard to go at 300 mph.  When I finally did, the pilot decided to do a wheely.  The front of the plane popped up; the back of the plane took a dip.  I felt sorry for the person in line behind me.  Bless her heart.

Passengers:  I lucked out on the “to” flights, sitting with my friends.  My ride home wasn’t so lucky.  I was relieved when I first saw the smiling, slender man assigned to be my neighbor on the last leg of our flight.  He was older, quiet and we had extra leg room with only the added responsibility of opening the emergency exit on the scant chance the plane went down.  What I didn’t know is that he had SARS.  I don’t easily sleep on a plane so I was surprised when I cozied up to the window, and my eyes began to get heavy.  About ten minutes into my nap, seat 20 B coughed so loud I thought the landing gear had dropped from the belly of the plane.  I jumped from my seat in utter panic.  “Did I startle you?” he asked?  “Did your lung actually come out?” I questioned.  Rather than sleep, I decided to write this blog post… and he’s still a hackin’.

Parking:  Last time I traveled with this particular coworker, we couldn’t find the car when we returned to Raleigh.  We strolled around the parking deck for 55 minutes arguing about where it might have gone.  I drove alone this year.  I was very careful to memorize my location in the humongous parking deck.  It’s on row I, like my eyeball, level 4, like the number of dogs I had growing up.  Or was it row E for eyeball and level 2 for my cats.  Oh crap.

Verna’s Two

Posted by Danny

My father-in-law plans a great trip.  And the best part about taking a journey with him is that you get to experience things that a normal tourist might not experience.

On our second night in Hawaii, the restaurant where we were planning to eat was packed and on that side of the island, there weren’t really other options.  So Pops pulled out his trusty tourist guide and started driving.  About 20 minutes later, we pulled up to Verna’s Too.  I’m surprised there was enough enthusiasm about the first Verna’s to open a second.

The guide-book described Verna’s as an inexpensive burger joint where all the locals hang out.  That was true.

When we first drove up, Michelle turned up her nose and said she wasn’t hungry.  The kid has a good sense about these things.

The woman at the window took our order with a ballpoint pen and a scrap of paper.  Her outfit was tight.  I was thankful the half wall covered the waist down.  Her form-fitting tight tank top was the same tan color as her skin.

She handed the order back to an older woman standing behind the grill.  She wore bedroom shoes and held the spatula in her hand; there was no smile.  She had a job to do and was focused on the griddle.  I got the sense she began her career at the original Verna’s as a very young woman.  She’d handled an order for 11 on many, many occasion.  This was not a problem.

The tiny dining room reminded me of the arcade at Permastone Lake, my summer haunt as a child.  I remember Undercover Angel playing on the jukebox as I ate snow cones with Steven Mozena my best childhood friend.  Their dining room floors were similar, concrete with a thin layer of wet sand on the top.  There were two options for sitting: a hard orange table with matching benches on the right and another on the left.  We split up – each booth only held 4.

Jesse was clear in his request, “NO MAYO.”  We all know to keep the mayo and, incidentally, garden peas, away from Uncle Jesse.  Almost makes him sick.

When his steak sandwich came out, the “special sauce” seemed an awful lot like mayonnaise – same color, same smell, same thick saucy consistency.  It wasn’t fully opened when it landed in the bottom of the 24 gallon metal trash can lined with a yard bag.  I suspected that they’d emptied palm tree clippings earlier that day to make room for the dinner rush.

It’s his own fault.  Who in their right mind orders a steak sandwich from a woman with sweat rings circling her armpits?

Our friend from behind the counter doubled as the food deliverer.  A side window opened from the kitchen to the gritty dining room.  She’d peak at the incoming meal and announce the next fare.

Michelle turned her nose up and anticipated my displeasure.

“Don’t get mad at me.  I told you I wasn’t eating that stuff.”

How could I argue?  She’d just seen her 33-year-old uncle toss half a cow into a Glad bag.

I opened my tin foil, the burger was hot.  Michelle nibbled at my fries.  The ketchup bottle looked clean, and I love me some ketchup.

I sniffed the bun as it neared my mouth – I had to do it if for no other reason as an example for my kids.

And it wasn’t half bad.  Sort of reminded me of a two-day old Hamburger Steak, Jr., from the Chargrill, reheated in the microwave.

I’ve decided my family is snotty.  The food wasn’t the issue for my kids, it was the atmosphere.  Somehow I’ve raised girls with country club taste on a YMCA salary.  How did that happen?

Forgot the Panties

Posted by Danny

So I forgot her underwear and bras, what’s the big deal?

I was in a rush.  The kids usually help me pack their bags for our weekend jaunts.  Last week there simply wasn’t time.  I had to go it alone.  Stephanie and Michelle receiving an incredible education on Friday at school while I stuffed the Totes.

I remember at one point, while digging through Michelle’s shirts, thinking, “You haven’t gotten underwear.”  I headed to that drawer and threw a few pair in her bag.  But when I hit Stephanie’s room, my main focus was picking outfits she’d be seen in.  Underwear were not a part of my mental  picture.

When we arrived at our destination, clothes started flying.  She dug to the bottom, opened all of the side pockets.  No sign of undergarments.  I  was in the shower when I heard the scream.

“Daaaaadddd!!!  YOU FORGOT MY UNDERWEAR AND BRAS!!!”

Ohhh.  Stay in the shower.  It’s nice in here.

I tried to explain the benefits of giving your skin a break from elastic.  “That stuff can hurt your circulation.  It’s good to have a break.  Your blood flow will be excellent on Monday.” 

She didn’t buy it.

“Did you know that Jesse didn’t wear underwear for about six years?  Believe me, I know – as does everyone else who came in contact with him during shorts season.  And you think he’s mighty cool.  You and Jesse – no undie buddies!” 

No takers.

“How about your bathing suit?  That could work.”

“Dad, it’s a one piece.”

“Covers top and bottom!  Sounds like a fix to me.”

“You don’t know anything.”

“In medieval times, women didn’t even wear panties.  And bras weren’t invented until the 1900’s.  Your great-great-great grandmother never wore one.”

“Why are you talking about my ancestor’s underwear habits?  What am I supposed to do?”

“Wear your sister’s.  Ya’ll are about the same size.”

A minute passes.

“These are like grandma underwear!  They come up to my belly button.”

“Your mom loved her granny pants.  Said those were the best undies she owned.”

I think that struck a chord!

The Vanishing Point

Posted by Danny

It was ego, sure male ego that made me do it.

Stephanie was invited to the lake with friends for the weekend and DJ, Michelle and I were looking for an equally exciting activity to fill our Labor Day hours.  As I pondered our time, interests and finances, I landed on a day trip to Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va.  Not too close, not too far away and an outdoor experience (versus the indoor Great Wolf Lodge disaster from February) was all too appealing.  With some coaxing, Jesse decided to come along for the ride.

 The pinnacle of excitement for me came at 5:45, fifteen minutes before park closing.

We had walked by Vanish Point, a slide that takes off from a 75 foot tower nestled in the back corner of the park, several times during the day.  This was the description on the sign at the entrance to the attraction:   Get ready for the ride of your life on Water Country USA’s epic new drop slide: Vanish Point. Inspired by the point on a wave where water and gravity form a perfect partnership, this summit supplies a wicked wet way to drop out of sight.  You can step into a skybox where you fall down when the floor drops out beneath you.

Although I was curious, had Jesse not been there, I would have kept my 45-year-old, ground loving self at the bottom of that tower of terror.  But once he decided to take the plunge, my ego simply wouldn’t let me sit the attraction out. 

“I’m going, you in?”

“I don’t know, you know I’m not a fan of heights.  And the girls really need a father.”

“OK.”  He turned toward the long staircase.

“I’m in!”

We started the climb up the mountain of stairs.  My knees a bit wobbly from fear; Jesse and I tailed a gaggle of 9-year-old boys – excitement buzzing around them like bees on a honeysuckle vine.  Not only was I motivated by wanting to keep up with my brother-in-law, but there was also something motivating about this group of kids.  I could picture myself with Adam Fair, Jimbo Martin, the Mask boys and my brother – the Berkshire Road Gang – from my childhood.  If we’d only had the chance to conquer this challenge as kids.  Our closest adventure to Vanish Point was jumping off the dead tree stump in Adam’s yard with the sprinkler gradually dampening our bodies.  I had to do this for them.

The anticipation was palpable as we reached the staging area.  We were so high, I swear I could see Mt. Rushmore in the distance.

 An attractive college student in her bathing suit was at the helm.  One by one she loaded the boys into the Star Wars type tomb of doom.  My turn was nearing.

Jesse:  “Do you want to go first?”

Me:  “Yes, I need to get this over with.  Goodbye.”

She opened the door.  I gently pressed on the mechanical floor with my foot to make sure it was locked.  I knew within seconds it would fall out from under me, dropping me to what could be my death.  I climbed in – glancing at the lifeguard – a nice final image if this was the end.

“Cross your legs and put your hands over your chest.  And remember to lean back.”

I had entered an upright coffin, albeit a wet one.  

She closed the door.  The male guard at the controls glance toward me, my hangman.  I was guilty.  Guilty of stupidity.

Whoomp!  The floor vanished.  My body darted down like a missile heading toward Cuba, my stomach lodged beneath my tonsils.

I tried to open my eyes but the force was too strong.  Within seconds I was at the bottom, water permeating my body through every orifice I owned.

Stand up quick man!  Look cool.  People are watching.  You’re wet all over, they can’t see the tears.

And Jesse right behind.

“How’d you like it?”

An unconvincing, “It was great” fell from my mouth.

“Too bad the parks closing – we could do it again.”

“Yeah.  What a bummer.”