Monday, March 12, 2007

Guest Author

....................................."Ralph Borrows the Flyer" photo by Nancy Vaughn

Flexible Flyer Rides Again

This story is dedicated to all parents in the winters of the 1950's who told their kids to go out and play. And when the reply was, "…but it's too cold." The answer was of course, "Then put on some warm clothes!" And we did. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Makena's fourth birthday. It was the first really nice snowy winter day we had all winter. Makena wanted to go sledding. Great choice, the infamous Hill 17 at Peninsula State Park. When we arrived, I was surprised and a little disappointed. Not because the hill wasn't big enough or the conditions weren't perfect, but all the sledders were dragging such poor excuses for sleds. I felt very sorry for all of them. Don't these people know how to go sledding, I thought to myself?! Most of them were carrying inflated pieces of crap, stuffed under an arm, as they trudged up the hill. They call those sleds?! First of all, a real sled has to be heavy enough so when it careens out of control and hits someone, it really hurts. That's part of the deal. Secondly, you pull a sled up a hill for Christ's sake. And you pull it with a rope. And not by another piece of bright yellow plastic, instead of a rope, but a real honest to God piece of hemp. The rope. It has to be worn. The more worn, the cooler it is. And if the rope looks like it just came off someone's horse or John Deere, all the cooler.

As we got out of the car, I proudly reached into the back seat to retrieve my trusty sled. I will show these people, what a sled is. This is not some poor excuse for a sled, nor is it plastic. Nor was this a 'retro sled' manufactured in the 21st century to look like the real thing that we used back in the 1950's. This was the real McCoy from our childhood. THEE FLEXIBLE FLYER from our childhood. (Not to be confused with our beautiful red, dented, metal flying saucer.) But what I reached for was the "nothins' - too - good - for - the - Vaughns" Flexible Flyer from our childhood. I thought it was about time to dust off the sled, which I shamefully admit has been stored in an attic or used for nothing but a Christmas decoration for the past 39 years. It was in the parking lot, at the foot of the hill, when I realized that it was probably a good thing that Makena is still too young to know how to be embarrassed by a grandparent (Ralph and I only have about 1 or 2 more years of that "not-yet-embarrassed of my Grandpa and Nana" window). All heads on the hill turned to see this old-fashioned wooden sled, with real steel blades flash down the hill! I could just imagine the words being exchanged ... "who’s the nut on that thing? Are they trying to kill us with that hunk of wood and steel?! Oh my god, that thing really can go, can't it? It actually steers and everything. " Needless to say we had tons of fun. I was so proud of my Flexible Flyer, that when people who were old enough to know, commented on the Flexi Flyer, I of course told them that it was my actual childhood sled. I was admired by all. I felt like a celebrity.
But, of course Ralph couldn't be outdone.

Ralph reached into the back of the car and pulled out his 'emergency #12 scoop shovel.' The kind you carry in case you get stuck in a blizzard. Unlike Makena, I actually thought about getting embarrassed, but quickly reminded myself that, don't worry Nanc, you knew before you married him, that there would be times like this. People's heads turned, once again, not to gawk at Makena's weird grandpa, or in admiration of the Flexi Flyer, but more of a quizzical look like, "Why is this guy carrying a shovel to the top of the hill?" Without saying a word, Ralph mounted the scoop shovel, gave himself a push and zoomed down the hill with a trail of snow shooting up from behind him, where his heels were digging into the snow from high speed. Yes, Ralph is now known as the guy who rode a shovel down Hill 17. On the 4th ride down, I heard a loud crack from the bottom of the hill and knew I should fear for Ralph. I didn't know if I should be afraid for his ass, his crotch, his legs or his life. But he made it and the shovel was the only one to suffer any damages. The plastic scoop shovel finally cracked down the middle, after it's 5th trip down Hill 17. After all, it's plastic, what can I say?!
- Nancy Vaughn
rushing by the boys
cold steel below the surface
a girl and her sled
- arem

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I love this story - and the accompanying photo!

Hoping to see you two next weekend; preferably without a sledding opportunity!