Jerry Zezima: The rise and fall of a real klutz | Lifestyle

Being a grandfather has put a bounce in my step — frequently followed by a stubbed toe — but I really got a jump on fun when my granddaughters invited me to join them on their new trampoline.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the years, but I had never been on a trampoline, even when I was the girls’ age. That’s why Chloe, a third-grader, and Lilly, a kindergartner, were happy to help me reach new heights of giddiness when the three of us cavorted on the springy circular device that was recently erected in their backyard.

“You’ll have a blast, Poppie!” Chloe promised.

“Don’t fall on your face!” Lilly added thoughtfully.

My wife, Sue, and I hadn’t seen the girls in a couple of months, so we drove to their house for Family Movie Night, which included pizza for dinner, ice pops for dessert and homemade popcorn to munch on while watching the feature film “School of Rock,” which was selected by our younger daughter, Lauren, who happens to be the girls’ mommy.

“I love rock and roll!” Chloe exclaimed while dancing in front of the TV.

“Rock on, dude!” Lilly chimed in.

Right after Sue and I arrived, we watched parts of “Encanto,” which Lilly said she has seen “169 times.”

She and Chloe got up and boogied to the popular animated movie.

Then we cackled while watching cartoons starring Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

“The Acme Company has a lot of crazy products,” Chloe observed after the coyote had received several orders from that esteemed corporation.

“The poor coyote,” Lilly said sympathetically when one of those products blew up in the luckless canine’s face.

It all set the stage, before we sent out for pizza, for fun and frolic on the trampoline.

“Take off your shoes, Poppie,” Chloe instructed from inside the trampoline, which was surrounded by netting to prevent a clumsy person (“like you, Poppie,” Lilly emphasized) from bouncing off the synthetic sheet, doing a somersault that would have earned a perfect score in a gymnastics competition and banging his head on the hard ground, in which case the aforementioned klutz would be even dizzier than usual.

“Just like the coyote when he falls off a cliff,” Chloe reminded me.

I doffed my sneakers and slowly climbed onto the trampoline, where I immediately developed rubber legs. I felt like a Weeble, except that, according to the commercial song for the famous roly-poly toys, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

I fell down.

When I got up, I started to bounce with the girls. It was exhilarating. Until I fell down again.

“Let’s play Ring Around the Rosie!” Chloe said.

“How about Ring Around the Poppie?” Lilly suggested.

We sang the lyrics with my name and, at the end, we all fell down.

The merriment continued as we danced to more songs and circumnavigated the trampoline while each of us hopped on one foot. We also skipped, slipped and tripped.

In every case, I ended up on my keister.

“Attack Poppie!” the girls cried in unison before jumping as high as they could and landing with full force on my fallen form.

It took my breath away.

Half an hour later, we called it quits. I wasn’t good enough as a trampoliner to be in the Olympics, or even to join the circus, though I might have made it as a clown. But I did, as Chloe predicted, have a blast.

“You’re more fun than the roadrunner and the coyote,” she told me.

“And,” Lilly added, “you didn’t fall off a cliff.”

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of six books. His latest is “One for the Ageless: How to Stay Young and Immature Even If You’re Really Old.” Email: [email protected]. Blog:

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