Okay, so you remember how I told you I was never much on taking risks? Well, even the most cautious of us gets a little out of control every once in awhile.
When we were kids my brother, sister, and I were a bunch of sled riding machines. When you think of sledding you probably think of snow, but snow was only a “nice to have” for us. All we needed was for Point A to be higher than Point B. In fact, my brother and sister made the front page of the hometown newspaper sled riding down our front steps in the middle of summer. Multiple sleds were ruined from all of the concrete grinding that year.
One day, though, when snow was actually on the ground my neighbor and I decided we needed a new adventure. We turned half of the steps in the neighborhood into death traps for anyone hoping to walk up them, the hill across the street had lost its luster, and our parents probably didn’t want to walk us over to the Mecca of sledding in my hometown….Bailey Hill. So what’d we do? We walked across the street, into the high school’s football stadium, and carried our sleds to the top of the bleachers. These weren’t your typical high school stadium ten rows of bleachers either. If I remember correctly, it was about 35 or 40 bleachers high and they were completely made of metal. I was feeling a little nervous about the whole thing, but my neighbor, four years my elder took the first run and bounced his way to a clean finish. I took in his technique, sat on my sled, and began the descent.
Boom……boom…..boom….boom…boom..boom.boom boom boom. The speed picked up much faster than I expected and about halfway down I was scrambling to figure out a way to stop. My options were either to stick my feet out and likely break my ankles trying to dig them in between the bleacher seats right below me, or keep picking up speed and smash into the railing at the bottom. I don’t think I ever actually made a decision, but it wasn’t too long before I found myself directly in front of the railing coming to terms with a soon to be toothless existence. At the last second I decided to lay back and pray I would slide through a gap and that’s just what happened. I hit the back of my head on the last step of the bleachers, landed on the ground a good 5 feet down and laid there for what seemed like an infinite amount of time doing my best impression of Ralphie at the bottom of the Santa slide in A Christmas Story.
That was enough sled riding for me that day. So being a thoughtful older brother, I went and warned my brother and sister who were off playing in the snow elsewhere to never attempt sledding down the bleachers. Even though it sounds like a good time, it’s terrifying, and if your big brother can’t handle it you shouldn’t even bother. I took my sled back home, threw it in the garage, and ran inside up to room to try and attempt an 82-0 regular season in NHL ’94 (if you’re curious, I could never do it. The Devils would always beat me once). About 30 minutes later, my Dad came home from work and that meant it was time to eat. “Hey Douglas! Where are your brother and sister?” my mom called up from the foyer. “I don’t know. They were across the street playing when I came inside”, I said. And then it dawned me. Those dumbies were in the stadium trying to do exactly what I told them not to do. I told my parents real quick that they gave birth to an idiot who sleds down bleachers and that’s probably where Lauren and Matt were despite the fact that I warned them not to do it. Luckily, my Dad caught them before they went down (either that or they made it down already and lied about it), and before long we were inside at our circle kitchen table having the conversation all kids have with their parents…the age old problem of goofy kids sled riding down football stadium bleachers. Or maybe it was just us Smiley’s who needed those types of talks.