A Pile Of Sticks, A Trapeze and An Oracle Walk Into The Backyard.

In the first house of which I have any meaningful memories, we had a bright blue and white metal swing set that I spent years being an Olympic champion on.

And singing the lines: Oh, she floats through the air/With the greatest of ease/This daring young lady/On the flying trapeze

(Over and over again because they are the only lines I know. Which turns out to be a good thing since the song is about a MAN on a flying trapeze who steals another man’s lover and then forces her to dress up like him and fly on the trapeze.)

I also spent quite a lot of time upside-down on the swing set. I had learned that blood getting to your brain was a good thing. (Thank you public school education. PS. USA kids are ranked 25th in science.)

My theory went: the more time I spent upside-down getting blood to my brain, the smart I’d be. And since I have an Ivy League education, a medical degree, an Olympic medal in trapeze and I can’t make pancakes, I’m pretty sure that I was right.

(I’ll be patenting the metal swing set upside-down genius position any day now. And we can all have Mensa kids. Of course, Mensa won’t be as cool when everyone can get it. Maybe it’ll have to up the ante. And only those parents who are REALLY dedicated upside-down-ers can force the blood to grow a MENSA BRAIN. Also, I’m not in Mensa. But I’m currently on an hour a day upside-down regime again so we’ll see.)

My backyard had a giant hedge that gave 2/3rds of our privacy, and the third side had two large fir trees and a large pile of sticks underneath.

I don’t recall where those sticks came although I have awful memories of having to GO OUTSIDE AND PICK UP STICKS before my dad mowed the lawn. I was so tortured by this never-ending process because in shirking my duty I could BLIND MY FATHER with a a mower-launched-sticked trick that I swore to NEVER EVER make my children pick them up. (And now that I’ve written it in my blog, it’s official. E and N? You’re welcome.)

But even with the horrors of stick picking up, I still explored the GREAT STICK PILE OF WONDER when I wasn’t pretending to be a man hanging upside on a swing set.

And I discovered one stick had a small section that looked like the rainbow of an oil slick.

I called it the Rainbow Stick.


As in I spoke to it.

The stick may or may not have spoken back.

It was like my oracle. Some people commune with God through a priest. Or an altar. Yoga. Psychics. The stars. Psychics for the stars.

I spoke through a stick with rainbow.

(By the way, the stick did NOT tell me to hang upside down. I came up with that ALL ON MY OWN. Although I may add finding and communing with an oracle as one of the benefits of the metal swing set upside-down genius position. My one hour a day regime is REALLY paying off.)

This trip down memory lane (which probably DOES feel like a trip. perhaps a bad one.) came up again because the other day E was running around pretending his best friend from school was at our house.

I giggled and whisper to Scott: I’m starting to worry about his social life.

Scott: Well, at least he pretends a PERSON is here. Your closest friend was the Rainbow Stick.


Also, why I am never telling Scott another story again.

Except now he’s nodding yes and grinning.

Double-touché, Scott. Double-touché.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

23 thoughts to “A Pile Of Sticks, A Trapeze and An Oracle Walk Into The Backyard.”

  1. this story explains a lot. plus? the rainbow stick must have been all kinds of wise for you to turn out so kickass.

    except, now that I know you can’t make pancakes, I’m reconsidering the whole organize your life thing. I just can’t live without pancakes. of course, I can’t make them either. but that’s neither here nor there (plus, I never got that saying).

    1. so i got A LOT of help on how to make pancakes in that post.

      and this story DOES explain a lot. {sigh} sometimes i wish I had taken my rainbow stick with me. mostly to poke people who annoyed me.

  2. I’m honestly not sure what’s worse. I imagined I had an imaginary friend because I heard kids had one and I felt left out. Yes, I was even dissed by the IMAGINARY friends. So I tried my hardest to play with her, but I kept forgetting she existed so I eventually gave up on having an imaginary friend.

  3. This is exactly why telling your husband personal tidbits from the past can be a slipperly slope. Oh sure, they know you better and the bond of Husband and Wife is reinforced. But then?–ding dong!–totally tossed back at you. Not cool. (Unless you can reciprocate and then it’s even steven.)

    1. Aw, thanks. It’s funny because they are all his school friends. Just they all go home except IN HIS MIND they all come over here.

      And by night time? they are gone.

      Also, they are definitely better than a stick

  4. I was an Olypic level swing/sing/trapeze artist too! But out swing set was wooden and swayed when you got really high. And I didn’t have fancy lyrics, no no, I must made things up. Maybe I needed more upside down time. Or a rainbow stick. We just stalked the porcelain cat our neighbor had on a tree.

      1. You’d have to ask them. It was stuck climbing the tree trunk. My sister and I had to take pictures of it for our ongoing investigations of the neighborhood. Very suspicious activity for a procelain cat to climb trees. We never closed that case. Probably because we didn’t have a rainbow stick to tell us the answers.

  5. Your rainbow stick is my cabbage patch doll. Yes, cabbage patch doll when I was 11 or 12. I loved those things and would pretend they were my friends and we would exchange secrets. Yes, it was a very sad and depressing in reality but it made me happy. Ha!

  6. My imaginary friends: the cast of Happy Days. I primarily chatted with Fonzie, but I included the rest of the cast now and then.

    My son’s imaginary friends: a family – a huge family – of dragons. He did go through a phase of playing with real friends who weren’t physically here. If we had friends over, he then continued to play with them for days on end. Then one day that stopped and now it’s dragons. They fly around our car and go places with us… It’s both sweet and disturbing (kind of like kids in general).

    I don’t know about MENSA, but I spent a ridiculous amount of time lying on my bed with my head hanging off, imagining what it would be like if the whole world was upside down for a day.

    Sorry… this comment is rambly and pointless, much like my imaginary conversations with The Fonz. This post just took me down memory lane.

    1. Rambly and pointless makes it the PERFECT comment for this post.

      And the large family of dragons SLAYED ME (hahaha… hmm, i should be in bed too.)

      also, i want to go back and capitalize all of the MENSA mentions in my post now.

  7. Oh, how I’ve missed you!! I haven’t been over to visit due to sick kids and teething babies. But I’m back – and I love that this is what I came back to 🙂

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