It’s the closest I’ll ever become to being a roadie, I suppose.
This past week it was my great pleasure to help out with an organization’s annual fund-raiser, lifting and carrying things in a great hall, wondering how it would all come together in just a few short hours. One thing I learned, - to add another pin to burst my childhood memories - is how just how those marvelous Halloween haunted houses and magical Christmas grottos that wowed me so much as a child were actually put together:
Duct tape and a whole lot of prayer.
I left after a couple of hours, due to other obligations, still wondering how they might pull it all together in the remaining few hours left to them. But when I returned that afternoon, the hall was transformed. Not only that, it was full of people - including children, who aren’t really my most favorite life form in the universe, if the truth be told.
As a volunteer, my assigned spot was to watch over the Ninja Jump, which is an enclosed area in which children can climb in and leap about to their heart’s delight on a giant - well, air mattress might be the best term for it. An air mattress with rolls and ridges in it.
The rules were simple:
Later, I amended that list in my mind to add:
There was a sign outside the Ninja Jump which stated that no one could enter unless there was a “qualified attendant” on duty. I wondered what went into making one a qualified attendant. Were life-saving skills involved? Was I supposed to be able to leap across the damn thing myself to help a child in trouble?
Was there a union, and was I a scab for taking a union-worker’s place? What if someone from the city wanted to see my Ninja Attendant papers? Shouldn’t I at least be dressed like a Ninja?
These are the thoughts that go through one’s head as one watches children bouncing up and down, up and down, up and down - your eyes darting wildly back and forth, making sure nobody slips in with footwear on, or getting i the way of other little kids, or doing the dreaded somersaults.
After a time, you begin to understand why carnival workers always seem so surly.
At around the halfway mark of my guard duty I noticed the warning on the front of the Ninja Jumper:
Persons with mental or physical impairment should not be allowed to use this ride.
What? So now I’m supposed to ask questions like, “Hey, lady, how’s your kid doing in algebra class?”
No switch blades.
No . . . no, I’m not going there.
Every so often a child would run up and introduce themselves to me. “Hi! I’m Tristan!”
“Hi, I’m Richard,” and I’d dredge up a smile, which probably scares kids more than my usual glower does.
There was never a time when there weren’t at least three or four kids happily jumping - Ninja-ing? - before me, and sometimes as many as ten or twelve. My eyes on them, and them tapping kids on the shoulder to remind them that no, they couldn’t wear shoes in the Ninja Jumper, and hey, kid! Don’t hurl yourself at the corners like that! You’re rocking the whole thing! And wondering what I would do if someone actually broke their neck inside the Ninja Jumper, I began to empathize with Nadine in The Stand, who, while riding the Randall Flagg’s private elavetaor, cackles, “ We are in Hell . . .”
And then, like a Halloween miracle, the crowd began to peter out, and soon there was only one child maniacally leaping up and down, up and down. At that point I looked down and noticed, with horror, that not only her shoes were outside, but two other pairs as well.
Had someone died and their bodies were simply hidden from view? Should I peek my head inside and look? If they were dead, how would I explain it to people? They'd never let me volunteer for anything again, at the very least.
Nah, surely this girl wouldn’t be so jumping so happily if she had to avoid corpses, right?
While I watching her, the other shoes vanished, claimed by their owners, no doubt, or some sort of wandering shoe fetishist. At any rate, I put the shoes out of my head. And soon, as in a fairy tale, the last Ninja Jumper jumped from the scene, leaving only a lonely attraction and a weary, battler-scared middle-aged man standing guard over it.
My long, dark night of the soul had finally come to an end.
I’ll tell you one thing, though. This whole Ninja Jumper thing is going on my resume.
Quote of the Day
I stopped believing in Santa Claus at an early age. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked me for my autograph. - Shirley Temple
On the Air: Doctor William Harrison
Five years ago, Doctor William F. Harrison of the Fayetteville Women’ Clinic was on my show, his second appearance on the program since 1992, when he ran for Congress.
Next week the interview will be played a final time.
In the interview Harrison discussed his views on abortion, and how he came to begin the clinic, as well as the various threats he received over the years. He also expressed his predictions on the future of safe, legal abortion for women in the United States in the future.
Show days and times
Monday - (7pm)
Tuesday - (noon)
C.A.T. is shown on Channel 18 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville.
Those outside the Fayetteville viewing area can see the program online at:
Programs online are shown in “real time,” meaning that they are shown at the same time as they are shown on C.A.T.