Princess of the Castle

January 18, 2009
By Dana Bernstein SILVER, Scarsdale, New York
Dana Bernstein SILVER, Scarsdale, New York
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

This is it. This is how I am going to die. Seriously. What was I thinking? Sixteen year olds should not be allowed on inflatable castles with little kids. I mean really- I could get hurt. These guys are incredibly tiny.

Right now, I’m crouched in a corner. But, they keep looking at me with their big, beady eyes. I’m clinging on for dear life to the side of the castle. What is up with inflatable castles anyways? Whose genius idea was it to create these torture chambers? Because I will personally hunt them down and give them a piece of my mind.

And the noise. Man, I have never heard so many loud, high-pitched voices in one place at one time. Well, except at my birthday party when I turned four. I threw a piece of cake at my best friend. She threw a piece of cake at another kid. Basically, it was an attack of the midgets. The lung capacity of little kids is truly a human marvel. But that doesn’t count because I don’t even remember it that well.

Anyways, how on Earth did I get in here? Well, it was my mother’s bright idea to have me ‘supervise’ the kids while they were in the castle; aka, so she could have a party of her own and wouldn’t have to worry about them.

I really don’t know why I agreed. I mean, when she said she was ordering an inflatable castle for my brother Sammy’s fifth birthday party, I thought she meant one of those cute little ones where you enter the front of the castle, go down the slide, and come out the back. She ordered the biggest inflatable castle I have ever seen in my entire life. For crying out loud, an entire kingdom of kings, queens, princes, princesses, servants, etc in the middle ages could have lived comfortably in here. Okay, maybe not an entire kingdom. And besides the fact that this is an inflatable castle. But still.

Why would she order a huge castle for Sammy’s birthday? I’m sorry, but is she insane? When she told me to get in the castle, I looked at her as if she were out of her mind. If it’s not already blatantly obvious, large, bouncy, inflatable castles and I do not go well together. This phobia as some may call it (though I refer to it as a minor dilemma) stemmed from a tragic accident I had when I was younger.

I don’t really like to talk about it; I mean it has scarred me for my young adult life. It happened when I was seven at the annual carnival held at the elementary school. I absolutely loved the carnival. It was the sole reason for my existence in my short, little life. Well, after my love for my kitty Harry. Oh, and my parents. I get nostalgic just thinking of those fun times at the carnival.

For me, going to the carnival was like entering a parallel universe. What had just been a mere playground had transformed into some kind of wonderland. It truly was a magical experience. The entrancing rainbow lights sparkled against the black sky. The cotton candy, popcorn, and pretzel stands were lined up on the pavement, assuaging each exhilarated child’teenins hunger. Ride after ride simultaneously provoked eagerness, anticipation, excitement, and at times fear. The sounds of children laughing, crying, screaming, and just chatting reverberated throughout the playground. This indelible image is forever in my mind.

On this particular day, I arrived at the carnival and immediately spotted the inflatable castle. I just had to go on it. With a quick, “Bye, Mom” I was on my way. Off came the shoes, and I was in. Up, down, up down. Boing, boing, boing. “I’m higher!” “No, I am.” “No, I am!”
Yet, a quick bounce followed by a large clunk occurred as my face collided with the floor of the castle. No big deal. I was just going to shake it off. I tried to roll over to get back up, but I rolled into the corner of the castle. In this particular castle, there was a plug covering the air hole in the corner, much like in an inflatable swimming pool. Somehow the plug had opened, and the next thing I knew, I was being sucked down into the hole. At least my hair was.

Now, I don’t like to brag, but my hair is awfully pretty. It’s stick straight, not-too-thin and not-too-thick, and light brown with natural reddish highlights that coat the top in all the right spots. Not to sound shallow, but it is my prized possession. I tried to yank my hair out of the hole with no success. I even considered trying to gnaw my way free but quickly gave up on that idea. Meanwhile, I was being bounced up and down.

Finally, a fellow classmate (God bless him) went for help. The guy working at the ride who introduced himself as Shirley (who in their right mind names their son Shirley?) came over to me and struggled to free me. No luck. He had someone find my mom, and then he explained what happened to her. He said the only solution he could do for us was to cut my hair (gasp!) free. Shirley said that he could not deflate the castle because he would not be able to set it up again. I tearfully agreed. For weeks, my hair was uneven. I never got over that.

Anyways, right now I am still huddled up in the corner. That’s something you don’t see everyday: a scared sixteen-year-old seeking shelter in the corner of an inflatable castle. All right. I am going to conquer my fear. I have to. This is it. The moment of truth. First, I put my hair up in a bun. Remember, safety first. Returning to my innate skill of crawling, I maneuver myself through the munchkins. “’Scuse me. Pardon me. Big girl is coming though!”

At last! I made it! Phew! I take a triumphant hop off of the castle. I look at the castle. And you know what? The castle doesn’t even look that bad. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not ready to start jumping around in there quite yet. But, I did feel an ounce more confident. I admit that having a fear of inflatable castles (is there even a term for that?) is a little ridiculous. But hey, I think I took a big step in overcoming my fear today. Or you know maybe just a baby step. But that’s okay. And you know what? I can’t believe I’m saying this but it was actually kind of fun being princess of the castle today- even though I didn’t meet my knight in shining armor. Next time.

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