The Flight of the Trampoline

A while back, my neighborhood found itself in the path of a strong thunderstorm. I’ve heard that it could have been classified as a “microburst,” but I’m sure my friends in the Midwest would scoff at such talk. No matter, it was a strong thunderstorm with high winds and I was blissfully unaware of its approach. I heard rain, and I heard the wind whipping at the house, and then thunder – I didn’t pay much attention until I heard my children start screaming.
As a parent, screaming children is part of the job – but this was different. There was true panic in their voices. “DAD! DAAAAAD! THE TRAMPOLINE!!”

The trampoline. My wife, The Megger, had spent weeks trying to buy it and had driven 3 hours to pick up, and now, in the face of a thunderstorm, it wasn’t secured. I had been trying to grow grass, and as a result had been moving the trampoline from spot to spot while I watered the lawn. It was a poor decision for someone who neglected to check the weather.

My children were pointing to the backyard and screaming and, sure enough, the trampoline was dancing to the sound of crashing thunder. I quickly sized up the available options and chose the worst one – I sprinted outside and grabbed the big, metal trampoline.

I can envision my father reading the above sentence, shaking his head, and thinking, “I swear, we went over this so many times.”

Once out there, I realized how loud the world around me was – thunder crashing, winds whipping, tree branches and, I found out later, trees themselves falling. Out of the cacophony, though, my ears picked up the sound of my shed door repeatedly slamming in the wind.

A note about the shed – it’s one of those plastic sheds from the big box stores that they complain about in the commercials. It’s a fine shed – we had it installed last year – but it hadn’t even been up for a full day before my sweet little daughter went outside and tried to open the doors. She pulled and she pulled with all her might, completely ignoring the shiny lock that was in place, and managed to bend the plastic doors. As a result, the doors tend to hang open at the top, just a little, and it takes a determined effort to shut them so they stay shut.
As a result, my shed door was not shut. In fact, it was swinging back and forth in the wind to the point that I was nervous about it flying off the hinges. I let go of the trampoline, walked 3 steps to the shed, and made sure that the door was solidly closed.

I then took a step back toward the trampoline. At that moment, the trampoline leapt into the air and took flight, directly away from my outstretched hand. The flying saucer crashed through my neighbor’s fence without a moment’s hesitation and sailed straight for my neighbor’s house.

It’s a shame that there isn’t a picture of my face at this moment, as I stood slack-jawed and terrified, because I was convinced that my trampoline was going to smash into my neighbors’ sliding glass doors.

Instead, my wayward tramp bounced off the neighbors’ trampoline (which, to its credit, never moved), changed direction, and got hung up on their porch. It was at that point that I snapped out of my trance and realized that I was standing outside in the middle of a serious thunderstorm. I ran into the house and we all went into the basement to wait it out.
As soon as the winds died down a little, The Megger and I freed the broken, bent trampoline from the neighbors’ porch and staked it down in their lawn, where it remained for the night. The whole affair had lasted about 15 minutes.

Upon reflection, I was very lucky. Trees and branches came down in the yards next to me and didn’t land on me. The lightning did not take the opportunity to show me how unwise it was to stand in an open area gripping a metal object during a thunderstorm. The trampoline, when it did its impression of the Gale house, flew away from me and not through me. Despite my stupidity, only stuff was injured on the trampoline’s maiden flight.

The fence was fixed, and The Megger found some replacement parts for the trampoline, and I still ignore the weather reports, so things are pretty much back to the way they were. Except, of course, the trampoline is now securely fastened to the ground and can only dream of its short, but exciting, time aloft.

A Mother’s Love

My son asked for a trampoline for his birthday. It was exciting to have him ask for something unrelated to video games, and we knew that his sister would love it as much, if not more, than he would.

His grandmother generously agreed to fund the venture and my wife – The Megger – agreed to purchase it. Easy enough, right?

Not so fast. Every other family on the eastern seaboard, also stuck in their houses during the pandemic, had the same idea before we did. There were no trampolines available anywhere. The Megger looked everywhere online. She called. She sent emails. She worked at it until she found one online and quickly paid for it.

What she didn’t realize is that plenty of companies online are happy to take money for products they don’t really have, and this company didn’t actually have any trampolines available. Also, instead of just giving the money back, they hid the refund button on the site and tried very hard to interest her in a store credit toward other (probably) imaginary products. The Megger kept at it, though, and eventually slipped through the site’s defenses and got the money back.

She then called a local sporting goods store – let’s call it Nick’s. The manager at Nick’s assured The Megger he was looking at several trampolines on a pallet. When she offered to buy one, he explained that he wasn’t allowed to sell them to her. He couldn’t take her credit card, and he said she couldn’t drive to the store and present him with a stack of cash.

The only way to purchase one of the trampolines was through the Nick’s website. That would have been easier if they were listed for sale on the site. The manager explained that he had asked his corporate office to put the trampolines on the site, but so far no luck. He offered, however, to put a note with her name and phone number on one of trampolines.

The Megger checked the site several times a day and called the manager a couple more times over the next two weeks, but no trampolines showed up on the site. The Megger called the corporate office and talked to people and was assured that they would be up soon. This went on until the day the stores were allowed to open. The Megger walked into the store that day and an associate explained that all of the trampolines had been sold in seven minutes.

The Megger was incredulous.

“But, my name and phone number was on one of them. You were holding it for me,” she said, practically in tears.

The associate said, “Yeah, when you didn’t call, we had to sell it.” It’s a good thing The Megger has self-control.

She then spoke to the manager who said, “Usually trampolines aren’t a high demand item, so I’m sure we’ll have them back in stock soon.”

Thanks.

After a couple more days of searching, The Megger found a trampoline at Nick’s in Rutland, Vt. She paid for it online, but saw that it wasn’t available to ship. She called and the manager there explained that the item was too expensive to ship, so it would need to be picked up. Rutland is about three hours from our house, but this was a woman on a mission. The Megger told the manager in Rutland that she would be there the next day, after work, to pick it up.

The next morning, The Megger received an email from the Nick’s in Rutland, confirming she had already picked up her trampoline.

She panicked – not again! She called the store and was told that, no, there had been a mix-up and that the trampoline was still there, waiting for her.

So, The Megger left after work that day and drove three hours to Rutland, Vt. She spent 15 minutes picking up a trampoline, and then drove three hours home. We then spent four hours the next day putting it together, swatting mosquitoes, until after 10 p.m.

Happy birthday, kid, your mother loves you.

The Red Sox Blues

I’m mad at the Red Sox. They traded their best player, Mookie Betts, to the Dodgers to save money. Then the owners tried to convince us that it was the right move and that it wasn’t about money. Bull.

We’ve seen this before – in 1981 the Red Sox “forgot” to offer Carlton Fisk a contract and he signed with the White Sox and went on to the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox then traded Fred Lynn and Rick Burleson the Angels, breaking up the team but saving a bunch of money in the process. Sure, it was a different ownership group, but we, the fans, remember. The owners seem to hope that once the season starts the fans will quickly forgive them. My initial reaction to that idea is “fat chance.”

Then, this morning, I got up early to put in some time on the exercise bike. While pedaling, I turned on Baseball, the Ken Burns documentary, and watched the recap of the 2004 Red Sox. The documentary showed the victory over the Yankees. Then it showed the last out of the World Series and talked about people putting Red Sox flags on their family members’ graves and, well, tears started flowing down my cheeks. Big tears.

I remembered my grandmother, who rooted so hard for the Red Sox. In the 1986 playoffs, she was too nervous to watch when it seemed like the Red Sox would lose to the Angels. I will never forget my cousin and I dancing around her kitchen when Dave Henderson hit that homerun to stave off defeat. She passed in 1990, without any World Series victories for the Sox in her adult life.

That same year, 1986, I remember my Dad telling me that the Red Sox were going to blow the World Series long before that grounder got hit to Buckner. He remembered all too well the repeated heartbreaks that Dan Shaughnessy chronicled in his book about the “Curse of the Bambino.” Dad was my first call when the Sox won in 2004. That was sixteen years ago and I’m still emotional about it.

In the past few years, I haven’t made as much time for the Red Sox. I guess the fact that they’ve won, the constant things going on with my own family, and other concerns have made it hard to sit and watch a 4-hour baseball game on anything like a regular basis. The Sox have moved into the background of my life – I enjoy them when I have the time, and I pay attention, but I’m hardly as rabid as I was when I was younger.

However, I clearly still care, because when the Sox traded Betts to finance a Broadway show – I mean, save on salaries, I became enraged. The Sox won the World Series in 1918 and traded Babe Ruth for money reasons after the 1919 season. Now the Sox won in 2018 and traded their best player (who is clearly not Babe Ruth, but still), for money reasons after the 2019 season. I sent angry Tweets about it, which did nothing but help me to blow off steam.

So, now I’m stuck. My options seem to be: 1. Ditch the Red Sox, which almost seems like changing religions, or 2. Be mad for a while until the team inevitably sucks me back in. 3. Give up baseball entirely.
Thank you Red Sox, for bringing me back to my youth and reminding me that eventually, our relationship will always turn to number 2.