Hello again. I'm here to tell a tale of which I'm sure we all have some version of. A tale of fancy and make believe. A tale of flight, with nothing more than our childhood imagination and an umbrella.
I was probably six or seven years old living of the Air Force base in Fairbanks, AK. It was an unusually warm summer, maybe an 'Indian Summer,' maybe not, but it sure was windy the night my parents decided to leave my eldest sister in charge of the five of us maniacs. Well, I guess that my younger brother and myself would be considered the maniacs and that my three older sisters would more likely be categorized as 'little princesses,' while my youngest brother, still being a baby, would fall into the 'poopin and eating' category. It must have been a special weekend though, because my parents almost never had any time to go out without us kids in tow like so much baggage. My sister, being the eldest, was in charge of feeding all of us dinner that fateful night, the boys usually got one thing to eat, while the girls got something better. I wont lie to you, I don't recall what me and my brother were served for supper, but I'm sure it was along the lines of peanut butter, jelly and mushroom sandwiches. All of us kids hated mushrooms, and any time the girls could get one over on their 'stupid' brothers, they would try. My brother and me, being 'trusting,' not stupid, would always accept what we were given without complaint. That is, until we would bite into a mushroom and totally freak out to the laughter and satisfaction of our sisters. They would say their sorry's and take the unfinished sandwiches away, promising to make us something normal to eat. We, of course being trusting, would accept their apologies and wait hungrily at the dinner table while they three went into the kitchen to fix us food. Again, they came out with sandwiches, but this time we both pried the bread apart to make sure that there weren't any mushrooms inside. Everything looked in order, so I told my brother to take a bite of his PBJ. He didn't gag or anything, so I dug in. Our three darling sisters just stood there watching us eat. I asked why they weren't eating and they replied that they had already eaten. Because I was jaw-jackin, my brother was three-quarters of the way through his sandwich while I had only taken a few bites. He stopped eating and his mouth fell open as his face turned red. The little darlings had put jalapeno juice in our sandwiches and my brother had gotten to his first. This would go on for as many times as my sisters could come up with new and torturous ways to make us eat things that we normally wouldn't. Usually, they would run out of bread by the time me and my brother would refuse to eat anything else. But I digress, enough about my scheming sisters and their unnatural enjoyment at our palatal suffering, on to the flights of fancy.
After dinner, we all noticed that the wind was really blowing, branches of trees littered the front, side and back yard of our duplex at the end of our road. We heard the thunder and could see the sky light up as lightning streaked across the sky. Strangely, though, it wasn't raining. Intrigued, me and my brother bolted outside to see if the lightning was near. Our curiosity was contagious as our sisters joined us in the driveway. My eldest sister holding my youngest brother in her arms. We counted the seconds between the flashes in the sky until we heard the thunder, a trick our dad had taught us to see how close the storm was. Two seconds, the storm was almost on top of us. My eldest sister, realizing the danger, yelled at us to get back inside, just as a gust of wind slammed the front door shut behind her. Now we were locked out of the house in the middle of a thunder-storm. The garage door was unlocked, however, so me and my brother opened it up just enough to let us inside. My sisters, thinking that we were trying to get out of the storm, decided to follow. Only, just as they were entering, me and my brother were exiting with umbrellas in hand. We had seen Mary Poppins in recent years and always wondered if it was possible to fly just as she did in the movies. My sisters tried in vain to explain the difference between movies and reality to me and my brother. We weren't having it. It seemed like a sound idea that one could, if not outright fly, float down to the ground safely with the aid of an umbrella.
We made our way to the roof via the birch tree in the front yard. The side of the house had a twelve foot drop to the grass below and this is where we attempted our first flight. I made my brother go first, obviously, and he landed pretty hard, but had let go of his umbrella halfway down. I jumped off and held onto my umbrella the whole way down. I landed on my feet and rolled onto my face. Well, that didn't go as expected.
I figured that we didn't have enough distance between us and the ground for the wind to get under the umbrella, so we tried again. This time, we jumped as high as we could as we launched ourselves off the roof. The same outcome. Maybe we need to jump from the back of the house. We scrambled onto the roof again and walked to the back of the house. The distance was about thirty feet to the grass. We thought about what such a fall would do to our fragile bodies and I had just convinced my younger brother to go first when a Military Police car pulled into our driveway with his lights on. Just as my brother was about to jump, the cop turned on his siren in an effort to stop us. It worked. He yelled at us to get down off the roof and to get back inside the house. That's when my sisters came pouring out from the garage and explained that we were locked out and that we couldn't get a hold of our parents. After me and my brother came down off the roof, the cop asked us what in God's name we thought we were doing, to wich we replied that we were trying to fly like Marry Poppins. He just shook his head and laughed as he ran his hand down over his face and mumbled something about getting his wifes tubes tied.
My parents finally came home and we were all back inside the house as my dad talked to the cop. They were both laughing as the cop finally drove away. I didn't get in trouble for trying to fly, but I did get in trouble for being of the roof that day.
I hope that one day I'll be able to fly like Marry Poppins, but that I should probably explain to my own son the difference between movies and reality.