When I was a kid, my mother decided that she wanted to kill us all, so she bought a trampoline. I remember going to the Sundance Trampoline… store? warehouse? showroom?… ok, maybe I don’t remember it very well, after all. Anyway, she bought a big orange stretchy death-tarp, and had it attached to the World’s Hardest Metal Frame (that had a cruel predilection for tender crotches) with the biggest, pinchiest, rustiest springs known to mankind. Sure the metal frame had padded arms velcroed to it, but I’m fairly certain that velcro was past its expiration date or something. Those padded arms were only good for two things, 1) to provide an ultra-slippy surface for your feet to come into contact with as you tried to exit the trampoline, and 2) it provided a nice soft biting surface for when your tiny, fat kid fingers got eaten by a spring. Damn, that trampoline was AWESOME!

We were the only kids in the neighbourhood to have a trampoline, and since it was only slightly less dangerous than crossing the busy street we lived on, all of our friends were allowed to come over and try to kill themselves with us. Such bonding. Yeah sure, our across-the-street neighbours had a miniature ride-aboard train that went around their entire house AND they had a swimming pool, too! But our trampoline trumped all.

The trampoline was situated right smack in the middle of the yard, between my dad’s garage and the bike shed. Now, dad’s garage had a certain pull for me – yes, it was most assuredly home to fat, angry spiders who wanted to eat me, but it also had a vice grip attached to a workbench. Man… the crap I smooshed in that vice grip! That was one of the best toys I ever wasn’t supposed to have! But anyway, back to the trampoline…

There were birthday parties held on the trampoline, tea parties with my Cabbage Patch Doll, water fights, and fist fights, friendships gained, relationships destroyed, and silence was sucked into the oblivion. It was the perfect backyard accoutrement, really. My mother could sit inside and read, and as long as we were making noise, she knew all was well. Sort of. There was the occasional time when one of us would run into the house searching for her, only to breathlessly try to explain that so-and-so had a bloody nose, or that so-and-so’s arm was bending the wrong way. Good thing mom was a nurse.

Try as it might, the trampoline failed to bend to my mother’s will, and all of her three children (and all of their friends) survived their childhoods. Barely. What, with the back-jarring double bouncing, the dodge-the-bottlerocket game, the let’s-put-Robyn-in-a-sleeping bag-and-bounce-her-really-high fiascos, and (how could I forget) the jump-off-the-garage-roof-onto-the-tramp game, it’s a miracle that we don’t have more brain damage, scarring, and metal pins instead of bones.

Oh trampoline, how we loved thee. Yes, you gave us the best years you had, and when we gave you away to the poor suckers family down the street, it was a sad day, indeed. Thank you, trampoline, for providing us with many an opportunity to see our short lives flash before our eyes, and thank you for giving us a base line on which to judge present physical pain (“yeah, it hurt, but not nearly as much as when I fell on the tramp frame and used my elbow to stop the fall”). We owe you so much. You were the Lawn Darts of our past, and you live on as fear in our hearts. You’ll always be in our hearts, trampoline, and our scars are the tender reminders of your giving.