I laughed out loud when I saw this picture.
I was nine years old when Dad bought a trampoline. He had us check out some books from the library so we could learn the proper way to jump. I don’t know how much attention everybody else paid to those books, but I kind of glanced through them to get ideas for weird and wacky ways I could court death.
All five of us kids got pretty good on the trampoline. My older brother and sister had better form than I did, but I was the wild man. I’d try pretty much any trick I heard about, saw a picture of, or saw somebody else do. I even made up a few myself, although I learned later that they weren’t exactly original.
I do think I came up with original ways to perform unexpected dismounts. On one occasion when I was trying a new trick, I did a back flip right off the trampoline and came down directly in front of my brother, who slowed my descent enough that I landed on my feet. My recollection is that it looked almost like we planned the whole thing. Perhaps his memory of the event is better than mine. I was a bit preoccupied with my life flashing in front of my eyes as I sailed through the air to my doom.
I spent a lot of time on that trampoline from the time Dad bought it until I was 16 or 17. One summer I made a point to spend an hour every day on the thing.
Fast forward 20 years or so when Debra bought me a trampoline for my birthday and I set it up out here in the back yard. It was fun for a while–a week or so–but then the new wore off. It wasn’t nearly as much fun as when I was younger and always had friends who would come over and play on the thing with me. And for whom I could show off my latest trick. Plus, I wasn’t in nearly as good physical shape at 35 as I was when I was 16. Jumping on a trampoline is work.
We sold the trampoline a few years later, and a few years after that we were at a friend’s house. He had a trampoline for the kids, so I took it on myself to teach them a few tricks. No crazy flips or anything–Mom didn’t want me teaching her kids that, although I did have to see if I could still do that back and a half.
I was showing them how to get some real air (feet at shoulder width, pushing off gradually at the right time, using arms to control balance, etc.). I was getting some pretty good height. Then I noticed that the kids were looking under the trampoline, pointing, and giggling. And I was transported back 30 years to when we first got the trampoline and Dad was showing us how to use it. When he jumped, the mat nearly hit the ground! We all giggled at that.
Anyway, seeing the kids pointing and laughing made me start laughing with the memory. So I bounced, shifted to a sitting position, hit the trampoline with my butt … and hit the ground! Yes, the combination of my weight and the height I was getting stretched the springs far enough that I hit the ground.
I checked after that. The trampoline’s weight limit was 200 pounds. And I only weighed 180 at the time. I guess they didn’t think a 180 pound man could get enough altitude to push the mat that far.
And that’s why I laughed out loud when I saw the elephant on the trampoline.