Tonight, when Doug announced we should take the family out to see our local ball team, the Wingnuts, my first thought was, “I really have a lot of work to do.” My second thought, “Dani, lighten up, it’s Summertime, take the kids to the ballpark.” So we went, to the eventual dismay of little Dakota and Makayla, we went. Who are Dakota and Makayla you ask? They’re the little girls having bouncy house nightmares tonight because of me.
What started as a steamy day turned into a gorgeous night. Both kids were giddy as they entered the baseball stadium. Jacob, who is on a little league team, was excited to watch the big guys play and to use his outside voice ALL NIGHT. Good-natured Katie had no desire to see the game but we bribed her with M&Ms. Boom! Teeny chocolates, she was on board. At Lawrence Dumont, the cheap seats are still pretty great and we even had a loud obnoxious Larry The Cable Guy lookalike in our section heckling the team. Picture. Perfect.
As we sat in the cheap seats I looked around at how much the stadium had changed since I was a teenager working the souvenir stand. While the other poor suckers had to wear itchy polyester uniforms, I got to wear souvenir shirts. Advertisement! I reminisced about how my fellow employees and I would meet in the bleachers on the third base line to eat nachos and talk about our night. I thought about all the cute ball players from visiting teams I’d flirted with and how briefly in the summer of 1988, I juggled two boyfriends I met at the stadium. The smell of peanuts and hot pavement mixed with the sound of a peppy organ playing traditional baseball stadium ditties used to remind me of carefree summer nights. Not anymore.
On our way into the ball park, Katie spotted a bouncy house. At six years old, the child has bouncy house radar and can usually spot one within a 10 mile radius. She never whines or begs, she simply looks up at me with those green eyes and flashes her single dimple. Forget it. It’s hers. Tonight was no exception.
By the 4th inning Katie had colored, danced, played Hangman, hugged the giant stuffed rodent mascot, and eaten her weight in M&Ms. When she finally looked over and sweetly declared, “Mama, I would love to go see that bouncy house now,” I couldn’t say no.
My daughter climbed into the house of bouncing fun and immediately started giggling. An employee running the attraction had a young daughter and as the kids got in to play, the girl would bounce with them. Her name was Makayla. At one point, my new doctor brought his daughters down from the stands and they jumped too. So much joy. So much harmless jumping joy.
After 30 minutes, I decided Katie had thoroughly bounced her M&Ms around and it was time for us to go too. We said our goodbyes to Makayla and watched as another girl, Dakota, quickly took off her shoes and entered the inflatable fun ship.
I made a quick stop in the bathroom for a paper towel to dab my sweaty face and *ahem* cleavage. As we walked back around the corner I. . . I. . . I TRIPPED OVER THE CORD.
When I looked down and noticed the extension cord had come out of the socket I didn’t immediately realize what it went to. I knelt down to plug it back in but couldn’t. I turned around to ask nonchalantly, “hey, what does this go to” and all of a sudden. . . THE HOUSE WAS COMING DOWN. I mean this thing started to deflate like a popped balloon. Makayla and Dakota were screaming, the teenagers working the house of terror dove in Baywatch-style to rescue the girls and I STILL didn’t realize I had unplugged the air cord. I’m. That. Dim.
It wasn’t until the surly carny-looking gentleman, who until then was laying on the pavement with his hat over his face, jumped up and nearly knocked me down to plug it back in yelling, “hey, you knocked the air out,” did I realize I was the one who woke up the bouncy house monster. I unplugged his air supply and the house had no choice but to eat the children. I. Felt. Terrible.
Katie looked on in horror, I apologized profusely and everyone looked at me like, HOW COULD YOU? THESE ARE CHILDREN FOR GOD’S SAKE. As the monster began to inflate and open its mouth to accept children once again, we watched the Baywatch beauties whisper and point in our direction. Even Makayla and Dakota were giving me Kindergarten-sized dirty looks so I grabbed Katie’s hand and mouthing one more desperate, “I’m sorry,” we nearly sprinted back to our seats.
No one was injured. The monster was tamed. The Wingnuts won. Larry The Cable Guy didn’t get thrown out. Our first Wingnuts game as a family was *almost* a success. Except now when we go back, not only will my poster be in a back room somewhere with a sign that reads, “dumbass at large” but my children will surely say, “hey, remember that time Mom almost single-handedly created a tragedy at America’s favorite past time?” Damn.