Jenny was my next door neighbor when I was young. We played together. A lot. We also argued a lot. And got each other in trouble on occasion. I got her to play with my Star Wars toys and she got me to play with her Barbies. In many ways, she was the older sister I never had.
One day after it had rained, Jenny and I were playing outside. We eventually decided we needed to establish a new guideline for the day. Since it had rained recently, there were a lot of puddles around us. We loved jumping in puddles. These puddles were practically begging us to jump into them. So we established a rule:
You have to jump in a puddle when you see one.
That’s a pretty legitimate rule. Right? I mean, it makes sense in a five year old’s brain. So we agreed on this new regulation and continued to play. Whenever we walked by a puddle that hadn’t been touched, we jumped in with gusto. I don’t remember if Jenny had shoes on or not. I do remember that I was barefoot. There really isn’t any other way to jump into a puddle – is there?
We eventually found ourselves sitting on our back porch. I don’t remember what led to this conversation, but Jenny eventually announced to me, “Did you know I got some new Star Wars toys?”
“Nu-uh.” I didn’t believe her. She’d never owned any Star Wars toys before. Why would she start doing so now?
And so we sparred back and forth for several minutes, digging into each other with our obviously creative and engaging dialogue. For one final time, she insisted that she was telling the truth and she stomped out of our backyard to her house. She was going to get the toys and prove it to me.
Fine, I said to myself.
I waited at the back porch. “What if she’s telling the truth? What if she really does have Star Wars toys?” I thought to myself. I was going to have to eat some serious crow. “Nah. There’s no way she has any.”
She was taking a long time to get her toys and bring them over. So I started looking for something to help pass the time. Nothing really excited me. It was just the same ol’ backyard that we played in every day.
Then I saw it.
I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed it before. But in that moment, it was like the clouds had opened up and a spotlight shone from the heavens, piercing through the trees and pointing the way to something so glorious it must have been a gift from the Divine Himself.
Right beside me was a perfect, untouched puddle!
I might have even heard angels singing when my eyes were opened and this beautiful gift was revealed to me. I tear might have even rolled down my cheek.
It was glorious.
So, in keeping with the rule we had made earlier in the day, I jumped up to my feet, dusted off my knees, and jumped on to the aquarium sitting by the porch.
Did I mention that there was an empty aquarium sitting by our porch? I don’t know if it was an old aquarium or a new one. But it was empty and sitting out back. It had been turned upside down. I assume that was so it wouldn’t fill up with water and bugs and dirt and bird droppings and whatever else could wind up in an empty aquarium sitting in the backyard.
But that didn’t stop the overturned aquarium from accumulating some water. And it was just enough to make the perfect little puddle. So I stood up on the porch and stepped over onto the aquarium.
The water felt good on my feet. It had been too long since I’d played in a puddle. Probably a whole 10 minutes. Standing in the water wasn’t enough, though.
So I started jumping.
On the overturned aquarium. You know. One that’s made out of glass.
For the next few weeks, I tried to blame Jenny for what happened next. It really wasn’t her fault because this whole climbing onto an aquarium thing wasn’t her idea. And jumping while on top of the aquarium wasn’t her idea, either. But I blamed her because she came around the corner and shouted, “Boo!”
I looked at her. Her arms were full. But they weren’t full of Star Wars toys. I think I remember seeing a McDonald’s playset in her arms.
I knew it. I was right. She was wrong. “Those aren’t Star Wars toys!” I declared. I was angry. I was annoyed. I was disappointed. I really wanted to play with some new Star Wars toys. I had hoped I had turned her to the Light Side.
As soon as I finished my victorious declaration, the inevitable happened. The glass gave way. I crashed through the aquarium. I don’t know where Jenny went. I’m assuming she went to find an adult. All I remember was sitting in the aquarium, surrounded by broken glass and screaming my little head off.
And blood was running down my leg.
I had cut my knee. And it was bad.
Mom ran out and grabbed me. I remember sitting in the bathroom with a washrag on my knee. The next thing I remember was hobbling into the emergency room and sitting down by some wheelchairs.
Our family doctor happened to be there with an intern. I was carted into a room where I watched them stick a needle in my gaping wound. I screamed. The nurse encouraged me to be quiet because my knee was trying to sleep. She must’ve been telling me the truth because I couldn’t feel my knee anymore. It must’ve fallen asleep.
Next thing I remember, I’m on my back with my knees up. Other than the head of my doctor and his intern, I really can’t see anything. I think they some type of curtain blocking my view.
When all was said and done, I wound up with three stitches in my knee. That’s all. After all that drama, it only took three stitches to fix me up. And they were blue, too. That was my favorite color at the time.
And since I won the best wound contest with Uncle Don that following week, jumping on the aquarium was totally worth it.
I think I lucked out. This could’ve been a disaster.