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Fun with biceps, bumps and books

Mar 9, 2017 - By Clair McFarland

A quick post-holiday outing had a bit of everything

A short while ago, we had Christmas. That is to say, my side of the family took their annual short trip together. It has become our tradition to get together in another city for fun, some weeks after Christmas. We do this, instead of buying gifts for one another.

Time together is fleeting; possessions are not. Plus, nobody likes doing dishes.

This year we went to Billings, Montana, for the water park and trampoline park. Much fun was had by all, but the trampoline park was especially fun. There were obstacle courses we could try, fences we weren't allowed to climb, and places to run wild. So, a country kid's dream.

During one obstacle course - which looked so easy until I decided to try it - I hung in despair between two pendulums, one of which was trying to swing me to the next level of the course.

But, not to worry, while I clung to the netting that encapsulated the foam pendulums, a complete stranger appeared to call out advice from the sidelines.

"Ya gotta use your biceps, switch your hands around to the other side of the netting, give a heave with your triceps, and flex your quadriceps as you let go of the other net, OK?!"

I was getting lightheaded, so all I heard was a Greek poem about a hero named "Ceps."

"That's very inspiring, dude," I said, or at least, that's what I think I said.

Then I did something with my upper half, something with my lower half, and -- whee! -- I swung across a pit, borne upon the second pendulum, and straight to the next challenge: a series of metal loops strung on chains. Quickly, I grabbed the first loop, let go of the swinging pendulum, and reached out for the second loop with all my might.

And then! Just as I was gaining real Indiana Jones momentum, I - you know - dropped the first loop on my head. I heard a deafening CLANG! and fell to the ground - the laughingstock of a gang of 7-year-old boys, and probably the poet as well.

I kept jumping around the trampoline park, even after that, because why let your skull get in the way of your fun? But that's not the important part. The important part is that, after hours of jumping, rope burn, climbing forbidden fences between crowded trampolines, and CLANG! - The Husband and I were scheduled to have a date together in Billings.

My mom took the kids back to the hotel for ice cream and TV (the stuff of legends, really), and The Husband took me antiquing.

Let's not be mistaken. I'm not looking for a '70s wig or Star Trek chairs, or any other things usually associated with the term "antiquing." Don't get me wrong, those things are great and all, but just not what I'm looking for. The reason The Husband takes me antiquing, is because books.

Because Books. It should be a heading, on a permit, on the outside of my wallet, which explains where I was going, or why I ran into the wall. You can have too many things, but you can't have too many books. They stack up as a pyramid of ideas over which men toiled, and pined, and died - for you to stand upon. For you to absorb it all, the never-ending prism of feelings and faiths (for let's not be na´ve, to think anything subjective is to exert a little faith, and anyone wholly objective is boring) through which you may look at the world all around you.

I browsed, victorious. I opened a 120-year-old Hawthorne volume, breathed its life and death, and perused the paragraphs inside as windows into the mind of another. I felt exactly as Hawthorne felt under a giant elm. (And this for just three dollars!) My head felt fine.

Take that, obstacle course.

And sure, I pranced through the carefully laid vanity displays while wearing Audrey Hepburn hats, and I wondered at old phonographs, and I wished my feet were a size 6. But, true to my permit, I left there with nothing but an armful of books - and a bump on the head, which I could no longer feel.

As for The Husband, he left the antique shop with a Band-aid tin just like the one with which his mother used to care for him, and an old BB dispenser - and a very happy wife.

So we wound up with some stuff after all, despite our unorthodox attempts at preventing it. More importantly, we spent time together in a place that furnished, to each, fuel for our differing passions, and in a way that let us acknowledge and enjoy the other's interests.

Yes, it helped to alleviate the sting of the trampoline shaming, but more than that - it was time well spent.

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