Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fat woman in the bounce house!

Published January 13, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

A few years ago, I wrote a column that I lovingly remember as my "NO FAIR!" column. In it, I shared some pretty passionate feelings on what I see as one of the great injustices of our time, namely, the fact that people my age were too old to play in "play places" and bounce houses when they came into vogue and that no such play area is available for adults today.

At the end of that column, I suggested play places for adults should be erected in major cities to rectify this situation immediately. I see my suggestion has gone unheeded. I'm not surprised. Adults are all about maturity and appearances and acting like they're actually older than their children.

Well, to all the adulty adults out there, I can say you don't know what you're missing, and if you did, you wouldn't be missing it....because you'd, uh, know. Circular reasoning, I know, but true nonetheless. I know this because on December 29th, I took a few halting steps across the great bounce house divide and catapulted myself into the childhood fantasy of my grown up dreams. (This sentence makes perfect sense in my head. That ought to count for something.)

The bounce house in question was located at a skating rink in Salt Lake City. It was nestled in among at least seven or eight other bounce houses in a large play area in the middle of the floor. I had abandoned shoes in order to keep an eye on my son in the play area. As I passed the first few houses o' bounce, I was shocked to see children AND adults stepping inside, smiling and bouncing away as if a generation gap were some hereditary tooth problem.

This phenomenon did not escape the notice of my three year old who, upon finding the bounce house he wanted to try, exclaimed in his genuine, three-year-old way, "C'mon Mom!" as he hurried in. There I was, just a foot away from the childhood experience I'd missed and openly craved. Could I? Would I?

Of course, I did make my way into the bounce house, but it was not without a great deal of trepidation. No amount of thick plastic and compressed air will make a woman my size easily forget she's a woman my size. For the first 5 minutes, I barely breathed, certain one wrong move from my, ahem, full figure would puncture this fragile, makeshift balloon and send small children (and their thinner parents) to their untimely deaths. My heart thudded in my chest as I imagined the headline: "Five Killed in Bounce House Tragedy. Overweight Mother of Five in Police Custody."

A few turns pulling myself up by ropes to the top of the slide (Hey! This is like hiking Angel's Landing!) and a few unbalanced tumbles onto my back (Hey! This is like hiking the Narrows!) were all I needed to shed the last of my inhibitions and regress into a childlike fit of giggles and smiles. I raced Michael down the slide and raced him back up the ladder until my cheeks were flushed and my sides were burning and I was more relaxed than I'd been in months. This was better than a massage!

Now the only thing left for me to do is either buy a year's pass to this particular play area or buy a bounce house for myself. As I'm not in Salt Lake full time, buying a bounce house seems the better option. Of course as a cover, I'll rent it out for parties and events. "Sarah's got one of those bounce houses," people will say, "She rents it out to bring in a little extra money." Little will they know I'm outside every night acting like childish lunatic.

I'll let the kids play too...if they're nice.