Up and Down | Mark’s Remarks

marksMy kids pitched in some of their birthday and Christmas money and, after money from grandparents and a little extra from their mother and me, they bought themselves a trampoline for the back yard.

Now, I had always envisioned purchasing a trampoline. Somehow, a large truck or crane lowers the thing into the yard and there you go. However, that’s not how it really goes.

We picked up a heavy box that resembled the one our Christmas tree came in. It was heavy enough that it took a couple of people to hoist it in the back of the van and get it out.

On Friday evening, I decided to put the base together. My oldest son and daughter helped me, and we were soon moving at such a momentum we did not think directions were necessary. I mean, put bracket A into bracket B until you form a circle. What we ended up with looked like the picture on the front. We should be good to go.

I soon realized that moving the base wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought. Don’t ask me why I began putting the base together in the front yard. I guess I thought that crane would come by any minute.

So, we took the whole thing apart (disassemble No. 1) and moved it to the backyard. We put it back together as best we could, but the ground in the backyard isn’t as level as we’d like and it took numerous attempts. As one side was ready to stand, the other side would fall apart and so on and so on. I’m pretty sure if someone was filming us they could have had a pretty silent movie. Although we weren’t using foul language (yet), I’m pretty sure it would have made a better silent film.

On Day 2 (Saturday morning), I’d had enough coffee and the weather was nice enough in that I felt rejuvenated. The kids and wife were ready to go too, so off we traipsed to the backyard. We took a big thermos of lemonade. Life was good.

All of the pieces were organized on the patio, and we set about repositioning the base a little more, thinking we could find that perfect spot where everything would be level. We shouldn’t have done that.

For whatever reason, the base began to be uncooperative. Part of it would fall when we began putting legs on the other side. Then, we’d notice one side wasn’t level. It was a vicious cycle. A keystone cop episode that would have made audiences howl with laughter.

Finally, sound and sturdy, we stepped back and took a deep breath. My younger son, who plans to work in some type of construction, analyzed the situation and began to plan where the safety net poles would be placed. He soon realized the base was not put together correctly and after his explanation, we realized it too. Disassembling #2, if you don’t count the falling apart episode.

An hour or so later, we had convinced one another that it was now put together properly. We even looked over the directions as a group to prove our point. Almost afraid to move on for fear of what was ahead, we trudged on.

It’s funny how constructing that base made all of us experience a myriad of emotions. One minute we’d be laughing at a side of the base falling. Then, we’d lapse into a fit of frustration. At times, I’m sure our “under our breath” language wasn’t so good, but I did not hear the boys say anything bad and I hope they couldn’t read my mind either.

In my mind’s eye, watching one of my tools hurtling through the air and smashing through a window gave me comfort at those frustrating times. Then, we lapse back into a bit of humor. My oldest son had one of the pipes from the base pop him in the side of the head. I’m pretty sure there was murderous rage in his heart for a brief period. We spent a few seconds, every so often, blaming someone else for our misfortune. When we got to a point where things were working out, we thanked each other. Emotional roller coaster.

The really fun part was stretching the tarp over the base. You know, that thing has to be taut and has to be stretched just so. It works well when you start out. You move around and space out the springs so that they are all equidistant apart. As you move around the base, adding springs as you go, it seems like a piece of cake.

Gradually, however, the springs get harder and harder to pull. Eventually, my sons and I gave up and started using pliers. This was an ingenious idea, as I could pull the hook with the pliers and just get the spring in the correct slot. It all had to be done carefully, but the pliers gave you almost super-human strength.

At one point, I was bent down lower than I had been before. You see, stretching those springs is something that has to be done after one has braced himself. As I was bending low, I pulled back on the spring and didn’t realize it was coming back with me. As the front of the spring jumped out of the slot, it was as if someone jumped off the other side of the teeter totter. I fell backwards, into the flower bed. My feet went up in the air and I thought I might do a back-flip there for a second. No such luck. I stayed on my back for a little while. Realizing I was still alive, I got up.

Later, when we finally had the tarp stretched correctly, I realized I needed to trim a few limbs from a low hanging branch. I thought it best as I could see the kids jumping and hanging from the tree branches. It sounded fun, but I smelled danger.

I was able to saw most of the limbs down standing outside the trampoline. But you guessed it; the last and most challenging branch could only be reached by actually getting up on the trampoline. Poor planning on my part, but thrilling all the same.

I’m pleased to say, as I type, my wounds are healed and I am not in bad shape. The trampoline is up, correctly, and my kids and friends have already enjoyed it several times over the weekend. Nothing fell apart and no one else was hurt. It will provide much amusement this summer, and it will give us more of a reason to be out in the backyard, pulling weeds and whipping that jungle of a place into the shape. I have big plans.

I was talking to another trampoline owner. He informed me he usually takes the thing down in early November to prolong its life. The notion, although sensible to me, fills me with painful dread.

Maybe I could get that crane to lower a tent or plastic bubble? Maybe a giant tarp?

Well, alternatives are at least worth thinking about.

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