I am Walter Mitty.
I make up stories in my head about former Army Rangers who can keep their cool in a fist fight and who know how to handle a weapon. I have met some of these people and I’ve felt their icy gaze as I peppered them with questions, but I am not one of them.
The truth is, I haven’t been in a fist fight since I was thirteen. I also love to read about daring computer experts, hackers from Anonymous who stop evil politicians from rigging electronic voting machines, and CIA whiz kids who can ruin foreign nuclear centrifuges from afar, but I am not one of them either.
To be honest, I can’t even program my own watering system. I stare at the keypad with Option A and Option B with variable start, stop and run times, and like a suburban Sisyphus I punch in numbers and
try yet again to get all thirteen sprinkler heads to work in tandem. I dream that maybe this time I won’t drown one section of my lawn while starving another, but again, I fail.
My task is never done. That’s why I stick to writing and editing. However, I do know some secrets. I have special knowledge that only fellow dads and husbands would appreciate. Here’s one I can share:
You’re at a birthday party with your family. There’s a bouncy house so all the kids can fling, trample, collide and crush themselves into exhaustion, thank goodness. You’re exhausted yourself, and you wish you could just kick back and talk to some other dad about sprinkler systems, but now Is not the time. You still must wipe faces, chase kids and grab scissors away from them, and take video when someone thrusts a camera in your hand.
But keep an eye on that bouncy house, solider. Your time is coming. As the party dies down, ask the host when the truck is coming to take the house away. Make sure you have at least half an hour. Then ask if you can take a nap in it before it is deflated. They will be amused, but they won’t say no.
Ask your wife to make sure that no harassing kids climb in with you and ruin your experience.You’ve earned this. Then, turn off the fan in the back and quickly climb inside.
If the bouncy house is in the shade and it’s not too hot, you have found the perfect refuge, an undulating pillow where you can slowly fall asleep as the house of air slowly collapses around you.
Before you close your eyes, look up at the mesh ceiling of the bouncy house and see the leaves and branches flicker in the blue light.
Feel yourself sink deeper into the tuck and roll of plastic, as the tower columns dip down to greet you and then envelop you.
Eventually the house will reach stasis with its internal air, with you, and the surrounding air, and you will float there, suspended, until wonderful sleep overcomes you, labors ceased.
Trust me, I’m an expert.