When I wrote An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport
, there were a lot of people who thought I'd left off the S
There were hundreds of emails on the subject, dozens of phone calls, two carnivals and one symposium.
Somehow my reasoned argument won out, whatever the reasons were.
It was at that point someone asked, "What's the premise of the book?"
At that I was stumped.
I didn't really have a premise except for the one about how I was going to write a book.
There are 300,000 books printed in this country each year. I doubt there are as many reasons for their writing.
And I doubt anyone has written in a scholarly way about the Jump Zone. Until now.
By the way, did I mention I've written a book?
÷ ÷ ÷
My daughter Riley was just invited to the Jump Zone. Again.
Same deal for Annie. Again.
Every kid in our little hamlet has his or her birthday party at the Jump Zone. Essentially, it's a big room full of inflatable slides and jumpy-jump mattresses with a smaller room to eat pizza and cake, the official diet of our children.
It's the place to be.
Clowns are going unemployed for 20 square miles.
If it's not the Jump Zone, it's not a party.
There's a certain amount of peer inspection that goes on around here. On Halloween a woman actually said to my wife, "Oh.I didn't know YOU lived around here." The truth is my wife had taken the kids all of TWO BLOCKS from our home. By around here, I guess the lady meant "around this price range" Laura explained where we lived and the lady replied, "Oh, down there."
That would be the tone of conversation were we to stage our next party anywhere but the Jump Zone. Only Hannah Montana rocking the 7 year olds while they sucked down a keg of apple juice would compete with the Jump Zone and keep my wife from being judged.
The Jump Zone has been the party site for the last 9 birthdays our kids have been invited to (and likely any others they weren't invited to).
I am going to have my birthday party at the Jump Zone.
What I'm not going to do, the next time we have a party for the girls, is have presents.
Our girls will still get plenty. We spoil them and they have aunts and uncles and a grandpa.
But they don't need to be involved in the present exchange that modern day children's parties have become.
The kids who are invited bring a pile full of toys that the girls likely already have, then on the way out the door they are treated to their own present. It's an invention of a toy-maker, no doubt, called companion gift. It's a little bit like when one kid is having a birthday, parents often buy the other child or children in the family a little something so that they don't take all the presents away from the kid whose birthday it is.
It's probably good for the economy or something but if the kids coming to the party are bringing toys and leaving with toys couldn't there have been some discussion ahead of time among reasonable adults?
Me: How about if you don't bring my daughter a gift and we won't put together a ridiculously expensive companion gift for your child?
Other Father: Sounds good. Did you see the game last night?
That's the conversation among men.
The women are slightly more concerned about presentation.
It's the same fraudulent system that has my wife buying Christmas presents for her own children and pretending they are from a distant friend. That friend perpetrates the same ruse on her kids. Both moms look good.
What about happy medium here? We'll stage every party evermore at the Jump Zone (or, until another place looks cooler or Hannah actually shows up) but we won't buy any gifts? Every kid around here has enough gifts and all these kids are the same ones who used to be really happy with the box a gift came in. We'll take the money that would have been used to buy each other gifts and really do some gift giving: There are a whole bunch of kids out there who don't rent out the Jump Zone and who don't get too many gifts, particularly companion gifts.
I haven't broken any of this to Annie or Riley.
The plan has no shot. The boat may have sailed. But I can try.
I can see it now. I walk into the Jump Zone. All the kids and all the presents are bouncing around on the jumpy-jump and I go into my speech. They stare. A crazy man is here. Someone calls the police.
Then I stop and say, "You children are very gifted." Then I make reservations for Annie's next birthday.
At the Jump Zone.
Even if we live down there we can be somebody here.