Jason: Take me out to the old bounce house

By Jason Offutt

It was the perfect night for baseball. Sunny, with temperatures in the mid-70s and my family was there.
Oh, yeah. My family. We were at a baseball game I’m the only person in my family who likes baseball.
I take that back. I’m the only person in my family who likes sports. The Boy enjoys watching football with me for the cheese dip and chili at halftime, but once the food’s gone, so is he. When attending a sporting event comes up, my wife tells horror stories of childhood baseball games.
So why aren’t I going alone?
Oh, yeah, the bounce house.
The May 28 St. Joseph Mustangs game versus the Rossville Rattlers* was “Life’s a Beach Night.” Dollar nachos, $2.50 margaritas, and a bounce house to keep the kids from asking for food between every pitch. Perfect.
With nachos and enough napkins for everyone – seriously, everyone in the ballpark. Offutts are messy – we found our seats just in time for the first pitch.
First Inning: “Hey,” the Boy said. “She got more nachos than me.”
The Girl, whose eating methods can best be described as the Pick and Giggle, is always the last person eating. Her plastic bowl was half full. The Boy’s was empty.
“She didn’t get more than you,” my wife said. “She just eats slower. Now calm down.”
He stared at his mother for a minute, looking for any loophole that would lead to more nachos. Situations like this make me wonder if he’ll go into law.
Second Inning: The Girl tugged at my wife. “I want to go to the bouncy house.”
Bottom of the Second: “What are they doing?” my wife asked.
One of the beautiful things about having a 9- and 7-year-old is they’re big enough we can parent without standing, or walking.
“I don’t know,” I said. He’d stood with his sister by the bounce house for half an inning. I got up to check. It’s not like I wanted to watch the game or anything.
Third Inning: “The bounce house costs a dollar,” I told my wife when I got back to our seats.
“That’s (colorful expletive),” she said, and got up to complain.
Bottom of the Third: My wife sat down. “She can bounce all night for free.”
I don’t know what she said or to whom, and I don’t want to know.
Fourth Inning: “Can we get peanuts?” the Boy asked.
“Not now,” I said. “I’m trying to watch the game.”
Fifth Inning: “Can we get popcorn?” the Boy asked.
“Not now. I’m trying to watch the game.”
Sixth Inning: “Do you want to split a chili dog?” my wife asked.
Really? Am I the only one who realizes there’s a game?
Bottom of the Sixth: The Girl showed up, her hair matted with sweat. “They told me I had to take a break from bouncing.”
She complains about family walks yet can bounce for three innings.
Seventh Inning: We bought ice cream and went home.
Yep, we lasted until the seventh inning, which is a record for us. My family was asleep before we hit the interstate. My goal is to see an entire game one of these days. Maybe.

*Rossville, I discovered, is a city somewhere in central Kansas. Town motto, “Wheat.”

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