By Norris Chambers

       Parties were rather popular during the old days. It seemed that there was a birthday party, a Valentine party or just a plain party every week or two. During the proper season there were even watermelon parties. Just about every social gathering was called a party. Of course there were political parties then sort of like the ones we have today.

            What did the old time socialites do at the parties to make them a fun thing? Most of the party agendas were very similar. Occasionally a new stunt would be introduced. Clifton and I attended a fun party one night and I was involved in a stunt I had not heard of before. Like most games, the stunt started with the participants forming a circle and a good bottle-spinner spinning a bottle flat on the floor from the center of the circle. This preliminary procedure was appropriately called “spin the bottle”.  The player in the circle that the mouth of the bottle pointed to when it stopped spinning was to be the star participant in the stunt.

            Clifton and I were guests at a high school party when we found ourselves in such a circle. The bottle rattled around several turns and stopped with the long neck pointing directly at me. I was approached by two of the stunt engineers and an appropriate cloth tied across my eyes and around my head, effectively blinding me!

            A very knowledgeable guest started explaining to me how the stunt worked. I was expecting anything from a lizard pushed roughly down my collar to a chain locked around my ankle for the rest of the evening.

            “This experience will not hurt you and you will find it to be a lot of fun. What we are going to do is have you stand on a board with a strong buddy at each end. They will raise the board with you standing on it about a foot or so above the floor. Another good friend will stand by your side and you will place your hands on his shoulders so there will be no danger of you falling. When you are at the proper height the good friend will step aside and you will jump off of the board and onto the floor.”

            That sounded simple enough so I bravely stepped on the board and waited for some action. I soon heard some scrambling at the ends of the board and felt myself being lifted. Someone guided my hands to the shoulders of my good friend standing at the side of the shaking plank. I could tell that I was being raised several feet above the floor as I began to reach down to keep my hands on his shoulders.

            For a short time I remained at the high elevation then I began to slowly descend. The spokesman told me, “You are going down now and you will be about a foot above the floor. When the good friend leaves you are to jump off of the board and on to the floor.”  Again, this sounded simple enough so I jumped, expecting to land quickly.

            The landing was an unbelievable experience. I had believed that I was about a foot above the floor when actually the board handlers had lowered me to within an inch or two of the surface, holding the ends of the board and shaking it a little to make me believe I was still in the air. If you have never played the game you cannot imagine how odd it seems to jump blindly from a height and finding out that you are actually expecting the downward jump when you are already down! It is an unbelievable feeling!

            Every one in the room was laughing. My odd landing must have been quite a spectacle. I thought the laughter and giggling would never cease. Eventually it was quite enough for the board master to offer the experience to anyone else willing to try it. I was a little surprised when Clifton came forward and said he would try it. He thought it might be an interesting experience.

            He was quickly blinded with the wrap and placed on the board. A good friend gladly stepped forward and let the performer hold his shoulders for balance. The two board lifters raised the board an inch or two and began moving it erratically from side to side while the good friend began to squat toward the floor. Clifton’s hand went down with him but I could see that that he thought he was being raised instead of the friend being lowered. Clifton thought he was two or three feet in the air. When he was told that he would be lowered the good friend started rising and Clifton thought he was being lowered. Then when he was asked to jump he felt as odd as I did when I thought I was jumping a foot and tried to adjust to the fact that no jump was necesssary!

            Sometime when you are looking for some fun you ought to dig into your monkey barrel and try this one!