Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Danger, Red Ranger

I had a Red Ranger party in La Canada once. A fancy house in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the party had its own caste system. The parents socialized in the upper house while, down a flight of stairs, the children played in a separate yard, comfortably distant. I’m not sure if the kids felt like the Untouchables (not the Brian de Palma kind), but I certainly did.

It seemed like a normal party: the parachute games were mediocre at best, my magic routine produced a couple smirks and several opaque stares, and the balloons became a catfight between four girls and an effeminate boy. The average age was slightly higher than normal and all these kids obviously thought very highly of themselves. Interacting with a clown was apparently beneath them (except for a kid who attended as a Black Ranger, then proceeded to slowly remove every article of his costume and clothing until he was leaping around the moonbounce in a pair of Superman boxers and knee-high socks).

To keep the older boys from popping the girls’ balloons, though, I leaned on that old reliable crutch. I promised a trip into the jumper. I had been back in the inflatables since my disastrous first weekend. It was kinda like getting bucked from a horse: you just gotta get back on and ride it into the ground. So I had done, and I thought I couldn’t be broken. As usual, I was wrong.

The first ill-tidings to blow my way came when I tried, instead of getting on the jumper immediately, to just sprint madly about the outside, cackling “you can’t catch this Ranger!” That little game ended abruptly when I thought I was hidden behind a column: two twelve-year olds threw their bodies into the pillar and nailed me in the face, destroying my glasses.

Blinded and not a little irritated, the Red Ranger decided to get on the jumper. I came flying in with all the fury of a man who has just been rapped on the nose. Two chaotic minutes of battling ended abruptly when one of the boys protested I still had my boots on. Apparently, I’d been standing on his chest.

As I unlaced the boots, I heard words that make any entertainers blood run cold. “Alright, we need to use teamwork. I'll hold him while you guys come from this side, and you guys come from the right. Try to trip him to get him down and then we'll jump on him.” I’m sure someday, when man creates a robot smarter than himself, he will feel exactly as I did. I climbed back inside like a man going to the gallows.

By the time I had emerged, one kid was crying and I only had half of the Red Ranger helm. I pocketed my broken glasses and fled the scene of the crime, still managing to score a sweet tip from the padre who hadn’t noticed the fighting below.