This might be one of those "you had to be there" stories, but I'll give it a shot anyway.
You know those stupid things you do when you're a kid, such as making up competitions among siblings to see who's the best at some random, inconsequential task? In late 2000, while we were all home for Christmas break, my brother came up with a doozy.
You see, we had this huge inflatable soccer ball. I don't know why we had it. Looking back, it seems like the kind of thing my parents would have avoided purchasing at all costs. I'm not sure what the circumstances were that one day they suddenly said to one another, "hey, you know what our family could really use? A giant, inflatable soccer ball."
But we had one, and oh, what fun it was. We lost the soccer ball cover early on and what we were left with was what you see in this astonishingly candid picture, below, cradled in the arms of my oldest brother Blair (in yellow):
As you can see, it was quite big. Although it was good for use in a traditional (if goofy) soccer game in the backyard, we soon found a more entertaining use for it. The competition involved seeing who could score the most consecutive bounces on the ball. The rules were that you had to be face down, body horizontal, arms and legs extended, with your torso making actual contact with the ball.
It was harder than it sounds. I think a few of us managed to get a couple dozen bounces in at a stretch without missing. It soon became very clear that the champion was Blair, who could go for 50, 60, or more bounces in a row. The competition quickly became not between Blair and the rest of us, but between Blair and his previous personal best. Could he beat it? How many bounces in a row could he possibly achieve?
There was one particularly exciting stretch of bounces that I'll never forget. We were all gathered around watching as Blair geared himself up for another attempt at a personal record. This was good, serious fun.
The bouncing began. Ten bounces. Twenty bounces. Fifty bounces. Eighty bounces. One hundred bounces. We, the onlookers, could hardly believe it. It was a new record already, by far, but how much longer could Blair go?
Somewhere around 120 bounces, it happened. It all took place in half a second, in a space of time short enough to fit between the moment his body lifted off of contact with the ball and before he could land on it again. The huge soccer ball ripped down the seam and popped, expelling all its air in an instant and landing in a shredded heap of fabric on the family room floor.
Also landing in a heap on the family room floor was Blair. He landed flat on his face among the ruins of the ball, totally unprepared for impact with the non-soft, non-bouncy, non-ball surface. We all looked on in shock, incredulous of what had just happened, but it didn't take long for us all to bust out into hysterical laughter (including Blair, after he recovered from having the wind knocked out of him).
That sight of the ball popping and Blair falling face-first on the ground always plays in my mind in slow motion, and always makes me laugh. Maybe someday, my parents will decide that it is yet again time to buy an oversized soccer ball. Until then, I'll be honing my bouncing skills.