Flying by the Seat of My Pants


When my parents first bought their house on Chestnut Street, I was eight and Elaine, one.  Our house at 641 Chestnut Street came with three bedrooms.  The master was on the first floor, and Elaine and I’s were on the second.

As it turned out, I got the bigger bedroom and Elaine, the little one.  But she was only one year old, so who cared?  I certainly didn’t.  My cargo included nine million or so of my favorite toys and all she came with was a crib and a few blankets.  I don’t actually remember what she came with though because I was still trying to pretend, she belonged to someone else and that eventually ‘they’ would come get her, but they never came so I had to adjust my expectations.  You see, I loved being an only child and I resented Elaine’s intrusion into the land of Clarksville.

As Elaine and I continued to grow (this happens when your parents keep feeding you) she came to need more space for her new cargo, you know, dolls and stuff.  So, my parents remodeled the upstairs by knocking out a wall and moving it in such a way that Elaine gained some much-needed space, and I lost some, but it was not vital to the space needed for my train set, army battalions, and flying space cities.

During the restoration period, I got temporarily reassigned to a small nook area in Elaine’s room.  My twin bed was around the corner from Elaine’s side of the room, completely out of view from the rest of the area; plus, the nook had no lights.  So, every night when it was time to go to bed, I completed the same routine, and it was fun.

I would enter Elaine’s room, turn on the light by the door, get a picture of the room in my head, and then I would turn the light off.  I would walk the length of the room to where I knew the bed was (the room was coal black) around the corner in the nook.  I would take one or two steps backward and then run three or four steps forward, and spring into the air, performing a perfectly executed swan dive in the process onto the top of my landing strip, or bed.  I did this every night for over a month, without incident.  I had it down pat.

The night under discussion was a night just like any other night, except my parents had a few couples over for cards so I got to stay up later than normal.  But eventually, I was told to go to bed.  As normal, I whined about it but eventually said goodnight to everyone and headed upstairs.  And I went through my usual routine.

Before I finish this tale, I need to add that Elaine’s room was not carpeted at the time.  And the floors were made of oak.  My bed frame and mattress when combined were nearly two feet off the ground. And on top of that, I would spring into the air maybe another two feet above the bed.  The bottom line here is that I could reach an elevation of almost four feet from the floor before I safely landed in my bed.

My parents were distracted that night, playing the role of hostess with the mostess, so they weren’t completely on their game.  When they told me goodnight that night, they forgot to mention a very important piece of information.

As I descended to earth that evening, in full swan dive form, in anticipation of my soon to be soft landing, something happened on the way down that caused sudden alarm to set in.  My body/mind knew when my free fall onto the soft mattress below, was supposed to occur;  so, when I felt the sensation of additional falling, realizing for the first time that the bed was no longer there, I said to myself – brace for a crash landing.

My parents had moved my bed back to my room that day but neglected to tell me about it.  Since all of my stuff was moved to another location during the renovation, I had not visited my bedroom that day because there was no need.  All of my toys were elsewhere.

My parents and their guests were all startled by the noise of my crash.  My parents ran upstairs to see if I survived but the only thing they found injured was my pride, both knees, both elbows, my chin, and groin area.  Other than that, I was fine.

That was my first flying lesson, and it was free.

Important lesson in life learned that night –

Don’t make assumptions.