Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Bouncy House

It's two years since I originally posted this and tomorrow... I'm going back. I can't wait to see if Ricky is still there.

As I promised in yesterday's post, the best part of the kids' birthday party extravaganza was...The Bouncy House. It starts with Ellen. She is the queen of internet bargains. I am the queen of waiting until the last minute then spending too much and having Cap’n Coupon get mad at me. So she researched where we should rent the bouncy house, what kind it should be, what price was reasonable, etc. She made all the arrangements and got us a great deal. I volunteered to pick it up and drop it off as that would save us $150. It seemed perfect – the place was only 20 minutes away, the bouncy house was perfect and affordable, and they even had cool stuff like snow cone (!) and cotton candy (!!) machines that we could rent if we wanted.

The bouncy house place was in a pretty suburban neighborhood with big houses on large, landscaped yards. I thought this is really nice. We should think about buying a house in this neighborhood. I drifted into an imaginary future world when I lived there happily with the Cap'n and kids.  But wait a minute.  How weird is it that there’s a bouncy house place on this street? Maybe it’s a cut-through to another neighborhood? Mature trees shaded the narrow, newly paved street that eventually ended in a cul-de-sac. At the very end of this suburban paradise sat a large house and a pair of gates over a gravel drive. Behind the gates I could see several brown, cement block out-buildings.

The closer I got to the house at the bottom of the cul-de-sac the more I started to think I was having an out of body experience. It looked fine until I got closer. It did not look fine. It looked creepy. Like don’t-get-out-of-the-van-creepy. The house was at once run down (overgrown grass, peeling paint, sagging roof) and fancy (pillars, a fountain). It was like a little nightmare setting peeled from Truman Capote's imagination. You could see there were very elaborate Gone with the Wind-style window treatments. Then one of the curtains twitched.

Oh dear Lord. Someone was watching us.

I swear the house looked like it was inhabited by Boo Radley’s once-wealthy cousins. Or worse. Like they had rooms in there where you didn’t want to look. Like a room full of one-eyed dolls. And this place was definitely attached to the bouncy house business, because just then I saw the sign on the gates.

My phone made a weird beep and then went dead. Then came flickering back on. Oh no…

The gates slowly opened and I caught my first glance of Ricky. He was a wiry, little man in a Miller Lite t-shirt and a pair of cut-offs, both in size extra tight. He was smiling beatifically and waving us in. My last thought as we pulled past the gates was: Please don’t let this end with a manhunt and Ellen having to come out here and kill this little man. Because she is tiny, but she is hardcore. Plus stupid Kate was in stupid Texas so she wasn't available for a rescue mission.

I pulled the van in between two of the cement block buildings and got the chills. This place looked like the backlot of the Island of Misfit Toys. Or maybe the Island of Angry, Ax-Wielding Clowns. Broken carnival rides, a snow cone machine filled with spider webs, and ancient three-legged carousel horses were interspersed between the buildings and a series of jacked-up flat beds covered in tarps. A faded sign proclaiming “Pony Rides” triggered the knowledge that this had once been a stable. Now the pony stalls looked exactly like where a serial killer in a Dora mask might stash his victims and yell: “It puts on the lotion or it gets the hose!”

I was terrified. I slowly turned around to look at my three children. They were ecstatic. And hollering: “Mom! Mommy! Mom! MOOOOOOOM! Can we get out now? Can we? Look at that! Look at that! And that! And THAT! And can we pet the dogs?!”

It was then I noticed three albino pit bulls with clipped ears and glowing pink eyes in a large cage. Pacing. Staring. Waiting.

Ricky then tapped on my window and scared the schmidt out of me.

Ricky: “Hey beautiful. Are you Ellen?”
Lydia: (Getting out of the car) “Ummm… Yes, yes I am.” (Kids start screaming: “NO YOU’RE NOT, MOMMY! YOU’RE NAME IS--” so I slammed the door closed to silence them.) “I’m here to pick up the medium castle slide bouncy house.”
Ricky: “You betcha! Let’s do some paperwork. It says here you might want to also rent a snow cone machine. Well, we got one right here!” (points to the one filled with spiders and brown crud).
Lydia: “Umm… No thank you.”
Ricky: “I could give you some some extra flavoring for free. Cuz you see here, we got some that’s already open.” (Points to a shelf inside the building, full of half-empty gallon jugs with peeling, yellowed labels that say "SNO-CONE JUICE." They bore Chinese writing on the bottom that I think said: "if you can read this, then know the contents of this jug is poison for capitalist swine" and beneath that it said in English: "Ingredients – candy, syrup.")
Lydia: “NO! I mean, no thank you.”
Ricky: “You betcha, Ellen. Sign here and here. You gonna need a mat to go with that?”
(Kids are pounding on the windows of the van hollering: "LET US OUT! LET US OUT! YOU’RE NOT ELLEN! LET US OUT!")
Lydia: “Yes.”
Ricky: “Large or small?”
Lydia: “Large?”
(Ricky winks and tosses a moldy square of astro-turf carpet into the back of the van. Loads an enormous, round, smelly, tarp-y thing on top of it using a fork-lift. Then ties the door shut because it won’t close. And if you were wondering if my big, white tampon of a van could ever get more disgusting and stinky? The answer is YES. Also, the entire time the kids are jumping up and down and screaming: "FORK LIFT! FORK LIFT! LET US OUT!")
Lydia: “May I have one of those extension cords?”
Ricky: “Well, I’m not supposed to. But for you… You want a long one or a short one?”
Lydia: “I want the long one.”
Ricky: “The long one is always better, but I bet you already knew that.”
Lydia: (Eyes widen in shock… Whuck?!)
Ricky: “So what are you doing later? You going to happy hour?”
Lydia: “No…No no no…” (shake head and slowly backs away toward the van. Kids are back to screaming “YOU’RE NOT ELLEN! LET US OUT!” as I jump in the van and start it up.)
Ricky: “It’s cool… and the gang. Cuz my name’s not really Ricky.”

At which point I peeled out of there like I was driving the friggin' General Lee. I tried calling Ellen but my phone was completely dead. Of course it was. When I pulled into her driveway the whole story poured out, and do you know what her reaction was? She laughed. At me. At my expense. Grabbed her little belly and rolled around on the floor like a cartoon kitty. She even snorted. Thank you, Ellen, thank you very much. We're lucky to be alive.

The next day, the bouncy house was a big success. After the party, when everyone had gone home, Ellen suggested that we have a mommies-only bounce and we kicked all the kids out.

Here’s the problem.

Let’s say you’ve had three kids and you have a full bladder and you sneeze. You know what happens next? It’s the exact same thing in a bouncy house without the sneeze. The first bounce was fun. The second bounce was unsettling. The third bounce was urgent and… Lydia’s out. Someone took a picture of all of us during the mommy-only bounce, and the Cap’n saw it and asked why we all looked so worried.

Then it was time to return the bouncy house. It took four mommies to deflate it, fold it, roll it, and tie it into a enormous ball. Meanwhile the children watched, exhausted and whiny, like they were seeing Frosty the Snowman melt away into a tragic puddle. One of them was wailing and crying about the fact that he had lost his socks. They were his favorite socks, and it was the worst day ever because he couldn’t find his special socks. The last we’d seen of those socks, they were wet and smelly and so dirty they were black on the bottom. It was all a huge sock-filled tragedy.

After shoving the deflated bouncy house into the back of the van, I started pleading with people to please, for-the-love-of-Pete, come with me to drop it off. Ellen wanted to but couldn’t leave because her husband was still in a coma. The Cap’n had all three kids, and they were acting up. That left my friend and neighbor Mimi, who rose to the occasion with aplomb: “OOOOOOHHHH yeah I want to go! I love to see freaky things!”

When we got there, Ricky was shirtless in size extra, extra tight cut-offs and riding an old bicycle in circles. When he saw us pull up, he smirked and said: “Hey girl. You came back.”

Come on, man. I’m here to return the bouncy house, not to offer myself up as a ritual killing for after happy hour. Just take it and let me get the hell out of here as fast as possible. But instead I said: “Yup.”

Then he smiled, gave Mimi the once-over, and said: “Let me pull it out for you.”

I threw up in my mouth a little, but was actually relieved when Mimi said: “It’s just like you said. This place is amazing. Can I get out and look around?” I pointed to the Silence of the Ponies stalls and she was all: “OK – we’re leaving now. Bye bye Ricky!”

And when I got home, I got the following text from Ellen:

The end.

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  1. OMG Did you come to Georgia to get the bouncy house? Because it sounds JUST like Macon. :) I love how freaking hysterically awesome your life is. Honest.

    1. Yes... it does sound just like Macon... Scary.

      That is why we are bring an upscale inflatable rental company there, because we have heard so many of these types of stories. Check us out!

  2. lmao!! I love your adventures!

  3. You girls are so wacky. Love your imagery and story telling. I'm feeling sticky and gross. I must shower now, but all I'm going to think of now is the music in Psycho. great.

  4. As usual, your blog posts rock! You are quite brave though to actually drive through those gates a second time to return the house. Glad you brought back up! :)

  5. "My name isn't really Ricky" Best. Pick-up line. EVAH!!!!!!!

  6. You are so amazingly hysterical! Note to bouncy house for Big Time's birthday.

    I've been seriously out of pocket...I'm moving and since I hadn't packed come moving day my life has been absolute hell. Despite all this, my thoughts have been with RANTS and I found a book buried in all my stuff that I think you ladies should read (if you haven't already). The Three Martini Playdate. It's right up this blog's alley. I loved it and wanted to share. Of course I can't find it again in all the mess so I don't know the author's name...sorry. Back to studying and packing. *sigh*

  7. That kind of sounds like the house from "The Burbs" *note to self rent that movie cuz it's awesome*

    I can't believe you went back a 2nd time! I would have traded hubby the kids for the trip back!! Yikes!!

    The crusty snow cone machine made me a little pukey feeling though!

  8. You are a brave, brave woman, Miss Lydia.

  9. That scene in which you roll up the house and the kids react as though you are killing Barbie and Dora and Elmo sounds just like the scene around here when we leave the beach or stab the *@&%ing balloons to death at last. Why do I EVER do nice things for you little sugar addicts again? Oh, yeah, so you can throw a huge fit when we're done that makes me wish I had gone with puppies instead of kids. Puppies are so cute.

  10. OMG!!!! I think that is the same place we rented a bouncy house the summer before last!!!! If my husband had not been along, I would NOT have gotten out of the van. It's hilarious the way you tell it - after my trip I just had to go home and have a cold one to ward off nightmares.

  11. OMG -- I am CRYING I am laughing so hard!! Please tell me you paid cash and that creepy guy does not have your credit card number!!

  12. Your story telling is to awesome!!!!! Hilarious! Please tell me you were exaggerating a little. Cause, if not, the FBI and the CIA may want to know about his little house of fun!

  13. Hey, bouncy houses aren't *all* bad.
    My sister and her husband were invited to a wedding. The bride had thoughtfully ordered a bouncy castle to entertain the kiddies while photos were being taken, etc. After the diner, when all the kiddies were headed home to bed, and the dance was in full swing... the bouncy castle was ... unoccupied....
    And 9 months later we welcomed my niece, Emily.

  14. I wish you would have gotten a pic of "Ricky", at least just so we could cross check with the America's Most Wanted website....
    "Can I pull it out for you?" Priceless! Hope you Lysoled the crap outta that bouncy house!

  15. Ha ha, there was a story on the news last night about a guy who owned one of those jumpy places but he also sold cocaine at night!

  16. Take all the precautionary measures when playing on bouncy castles.. It can make your children happy.. but always keep an eye on them.

    jumping castles sydney

  17. Always safety first in what you are doing. Take note of that.

  18. This is probably the best story in the history of EVER! I have tears from laughing so hard.

  19. HA HA HA HA HA! I had better cancel that bouncy house I ordered... However, I do like the idea of a Mommies only bounce party. We'd have so much, and I'd be sure I'd pee first.

    You are too funny! I may have to start wearing depends when I read your posts! AS I just alluded to, I have a leaking problem too. Hey wait I could also wear some for jumping in a bounce house, brilliant!

    Maybe you're just what this country needs, you can stimulate the economy by telling your hilarious stories because sales of depends will go way up. Win win. Sort of...

  20. Really? Your braver (or more foolish) than I. I think you should make Ellen go this time.;)

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Wow, sounds like you had quite the experience! But it seems like everything turned out alright in the end. That does sound like a particularly questionable business, though. How is it you found them and had everything arranged before you found out it was so sketchy?




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