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A lesson in the laws of physics

A lesson in the laws of physics A lesson in the laws of physics

If you’ve ever seen a circus act, you’re likely familiar with the image of an elephant balancing on the top of a small inflatable ball. The thing is, you’ll probably never see what happens if that large mammal happens to slip while trying to get on that ball.

Members of my family, and maybe a few onlookers, got to see something roughly equivalent to that this past Saturday. Except, in this case, I was the elephant and the ball was an innertube floating in the water.

A backstory is required at this point. It wastheannualFourthof Julyboatparade on the lake my parents live on in northern Minnesota, and I was determined to put a finishing touch on our “coronavacation”themed boat. My niece came up with the initial idea of strapping a blue tarp to the front of my parents’ pontoon, to make it look as if the watercraft itself was wearing a mask. She and her sister then made signs for the side of the boat to drive home the theme.

But I had one last idea, and I wasn’t going to let it go. I wanted to carry a “social distancing” sign while being towed in an innertube, about six feet back from the end of the boat. After gathering together the tube and the tow rope, all I had to do was get myself from the boat into the tube (my brother was in too much of a hurry to let me get in near the shore).

The first attempt was at the back of the boat, and I was little too close to the motor for comfort, so I decided I would try from the side. Unfortunately, my second and third attempts were no more successful. Getting my posterior into that rubber donut hole required a mastery of balance and flexibility that I simply no longer have at the age of 40.

If you’ve ever tussled with an innertube, you’ll know that they tend to “bite.” More accurately, the friction caused by bare skin sliding off raw rubber creates some nasty bruising. I noticed a red-andblack mark on my inner-arm right away, but it wasn’t until later that my wife and others informed me of the painful-looking tread marks on my back.

They sting at first, but they really look much worse than they feel. Still, I could have avoided the whole triple-whammy fiasco if I had just asked my niece to get on the tube right way. Instead, I waited until I was in the water for the third time. And, of course, 10-year-old Bailey bounced effortlessly into the center of the tube and fell right into place, just in time for the parade to start.

I jokingly told my wife that I “suffered for my art” — if that’s what you want to call our hastily thrown-together pontoon float. It was still a good time, though. Oftentimes, the best memories comes with a few bruises.