It was a lovely party, a large gala affair outdoors on a beautiful Spring day, and I was simply walking along enjoying the sun. Places to go? None. Things to do later? Nada. It was just me walking with my friends, my iced tea, and the breeze tickling the back of my neck. I wasn't thinking about much.
Hello, what's that sound? People laughing! I'll wander over there.
I walked around the corner, and there it was: a collection of inflatable slides, romper rooms, and a jumpy house, all of them infested with little kids scampering about, as their parents watched and cheered them on.
We stood outside of the jumpy house, watching through the netting as various bodies flung themselves across the inflated floor, which bounced each other into the air. And they laughed. Ha ha ha, what fun. I asked the woman next to me if her children were inside, and she pointed to to two of them as she explained they were her daughters.
Why don't adults ever get into these things?, I wondered, as I looked around the entry for size regulations. There wasn't anything posted about how many people could be inside, or the maximum size or weight...hmm.
I mentioned casually it looked like fun, and I "wanted" to try it. I didn't actually have visions of myself joining a group of elementary school-age children in jumping around an inflatable house; it was just something I put out there. It looked like fun. My friend, equally casual in tone said, "Why not?"
For what transpired next, I blame him.
Perhaps I wasn't prepared for the vague challenge, or maybe I just wasn't interested in acting my age that day. Whatever the case, I asked the mother next to me if she thought it would be alright, since her daughters were inside, and she shrugged and smiled, making a gesture with her hands towards the entry. So I looked around for a Jumpy House Technician of some sort, a person who was in charge of the area who I could ask...there was no one. So I kicked off my shoes, and I climbed up.
I don't know what came over me. Maybe the sunny day gave me energy; maybe there was too much sugar in my tea. Before stepping through the door, I was a calm, rational adult who was merely enjoying the sunny day; but upon entering, like a small inflatable Thunderdome, I became consumed by the jumpy house, and I took one step inside the entry, took a deep breath, and screamed "EVERYBODY LOOK OOOOOOOOOOUT!!!"...as I took a flying leap to the middle of the floor.
Gather 'round, dear readers, for now is a good time for a lesson in physics. The sheer mass of my 6'3" frame hitting the surface of the apparatus instigated what is known as a "displacement vector," as the force of my body moved the gas beneath the plastic down and to the side, causing an equal-yet-opposite reaction of gas traveling up at an angle. This traveling gas encountered the other people inside the house with me, standing in a random arrangement. As the instantaneous displacement of that force encountered them, the kinetic energy of that displacement overcame the pull of gravity on their mass. And the kids LAUNCHED into the air.
Jump, jump, jump, I bounded around the little house, as little bodies wailed in terror, cowering in corners and scrambling for the exit. One brave little girl giggled and tried to bounce me, but due to those aforementioned laws of physics, her efforts were futile. I'll show her. BOING. I bounced one little boy--a gangly collection of knees and elbows and freckles--so high into the air, he latched onto my chest like a marmoset holding onto a tree limb. Except I don't think marmosets don't scream like that.
Alas, I don't need to get into too many of the details about next few minutes. Each series of jumps corresponded to a significant reduction in the amount of kids in the jumpy house. Watch the movie "Aliens," and note the scenes in which the little girl Newt cowers beneath the floor grates, hiding from the giant alien queen.
It was at this point I noticed my jumping was becoming more labored. Was I tired already? And why is the side of the house not fully-inflated anymore?...oh, we're losing air pressure.
I stopped jumping. Wait, is this thing deflating? OH.
Quick, everybody out!
My friends, shaking their heads collectively, handed me my shoes without saying a word. That mother from before, who so happily invited me in to jump around with her daughters, merely gave me an icy glare as she led away her brood, the mood somber. And that jumpy house, once filled with energy and laughter, simply sagged to the side, listlessly giving up the the will to live from the fans that had once kept it strong.
What does one say in a moment like this? My friend tried to change the subject. "Do you want to go get a funnel cake?" he asked.
I rubbed the roundness of my belly. "I don't think I need to eat anything for a while."