Slip Sliding Away

Slip Sliding AwayI cannot recall exactly how old I was when it happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if I somehow might have suffered a brain injury from the impact. All I know is that I hit the wall hard….and I never looked at life the same way again.

The second born of a family of four girls, I used to consider myself a bit of a tomboy. In retrospect, the only thing I had in common with a tomboy was that I rarely wore dresses and my hair was cropped short like a boy. Oh yeah…..I also had a filthy mouth like a sailor. Despite of having many of the tomboy trappings, I was scared of bugs, bears, dirt, loud things, fast things, dead things…..

I played tough….but would rely on my very fast short legs to get me out of a bind.

Anyhow…..I grew up on a farm, but not a real farm as one might imagine when thinking of a farm.

It was a grain farm.

We grew grain.

I never had to go gather fresh eggs in the morning or feed the cattle. I never had to milk a cow (although there was a brief time that we were encouraged to milk our lone goat which, in hindsight, I am certain that my father intended to be our ‘gateway’ goat and lead to a genuine interest in animal husbandry…..never happened).

The entire experience was gross and the goat didn’t want to stand still and the milk tasted funny. Blech!

It was a failed experiment and one day the goat was gone. Poof! (Don’t get melodramatic……I am certain that the goat was given to a neighbour).

Like I said….we grew up on a farm…..but we are only entitled to label our experience “Farm-lite”.

So, I think you have the picture.

The day IT happened was very, very cold. A frigid winter day where my sisters and I were house-bound with only channel 13 (CTV) to keep us company. That channel was so fuzzy that we could barely make out the grey shapes of the Skipper and Gilligan and no amount of tinfoil on the rabbit ears was going to improve things.

Frustrated, we turned it off and we disbursed to our individual spaces to read or play.

I didn’t want to read.

I wanted to take my brand new Krazy Karpet and fly down a hillside like they advertised on television:

“Krazy Karpet was the new space-aged slider! Safe…lightweight…easy to handle….wild! Pilot YOUR Krazy Karpet over any surface! “

Each of us girls had received a Krazy Karpet for Christmas and I could not wait to try it out.

But it was too cold.

Too cold to go slip sliding on my Krazy Karpet!

And plus…..there were no hills close by, nothing within walking distance.

But! We did have a basement and we did have stairs and the commercial DID say that I could pilot my Krazy Karpet over any surface.

The daylight basement was accessible by a flight of stairs that extended from the back entry landing to the entrance of my Grandma Stanley’s suite downstairs. My memory is a bit foggy, but I imagine there were probably 20 painted steps.

Seemed like enough steps for a ride.

I peeled the protective sticky label off of my new Krazy Karpet and unrolled it carefully.

My short arms tried to flatten out the plastic, but my child-size wing -pan was insufficient. Finally I sat down on the end of the Karpet, flattening it sufficiently so that the front part curled up into my lap, begging me to slip my fingers through the small oval “handle”.

I looked like the kids on the commercial!

Oooooooh I wanted to try it soooooo badly!

I called my older sister to join me at the top of the stairs. “I am going to ride my Krazy Karpet down the stairs” I said excitedly.

Jessie’s face lit up and to this day I wonder if she knew what was going to happen and simply chose to play along.

There was nothing else required. I had my older sister’s implied consent…..this launch was a “go”.

I was going to pilot my Karrrrpettttt!

I shuffled the Karpet forward inch by inch and finally I was perched on the top step, the front end of the plastic curled out and back towards me, my two small hands with fingernails bitten to the quick tucked into the sharp oval cutout.

I leaned forward.

It began slowly at first, my body making contact with the top step, then the next, then the next and now I am FLYING through the air, stair after stair after stair!

The wall came so quickly, I had no time to bail. You know that stupid joke where they ask: “What went through the bug’s head before he hit the windshield?”

Answer: “Its brain”

BAM! That was me.

My little body launched headfirst from the final step straight into the drywall at the bottom of the stairs and I crumpled into a pile.

For a moment I was stunned.

I had not considered the wall placement, nor the physics and trajectory involved with the slide down the stairs.

Groaning, I began to extricate myself from the sheet of hard plastic, the shiny surface now branded with scuffmarks and paint rubs from the basement stairs.

Jessie was looking at me worriedly, probably wondering how much trouble she would be in if I didn’t survive.

She was the oldest…..she was in charge.

Standing up, I checked myself over carefully.

No blood.

No broken bones.

“Are you okay?” said Jessie, her face(s) only inches away from mine. I didn’t dare tell her that at this very moment, there were two of her looking me in the eyes.

I nodded carefully, not wanting to let on that my bell had been rung hard…..very hard.

I think she knew that I was having some difficulty focusing because she helped roll up that Krazy Karpet and we went back upstairs.

Childhood for a farm kid was like that…..even for those of us who practiced Farm-lite. It was survival of the fittest or luckiest or whatever.

For some of us it was riding a Krazy Karpet down the stairs, for others it was knife throwing competitions in the back yard.

We survived.

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