When I was about twelve, my brother Alex, my cousin Jase and I thought it’d be fun to play baseball at a nearby high school (probably because we were tired of playing in the street and having to run from cars). It was a Saturday, so we frolicked over to the field and were disappointed to discover that it was heavily locked up and surrounded by a twelve-foot fence.
“There goes that idea,” said Jase dejectedly.
“Nonsense,” said Alex, “we’ll figure out a way in,” and he promptly grabbed all of our stuff (baseballs, water bottles, bats, cell phones) and chucked it over the fence and into the field without a second thought. Jase and I stared with our mouths open.
“What?” said Alex defensively.
“There aren’t words,” I said, shaking my head.
“C’mon.” Alex looked at the fence, sizing it up. “We just have to climb it…”
We tried. God knows we tried. We went at that fence from every angle; we tried hoisting one another up over our shoulders; we took running starts. Nothing worked. We started trying to create a human ladder, and it was around this time that we discovered an actual ladder lying in the dirt a few yards away. Despite it being the most rickety, dangerous man-made construction ever built, Jase and I angled it against the dugout and slowly climbed onto the roof while Alex held it in place. We slid toward the other side on our butts, craned our necks, and looked at what now appeared to be a hundred-foot drop to the ground below.
“Nope,” said Jase, shaking his head. “No way. Can’t be done.”
“Wimps!” Alex called from below. “Somebody come back down and hold it for me; I’ll do it.”
“Yeah,” snapped Jase, “if you want to break both your legs. It’s too high. We should just—”
And in that moment—between when Jase said “if you want to break both your legs” and “we should just”—something happened. I had been seized by this “oh, screw it” mentality and I was going to do it. I was going to be the hero. It was an idea born from adrenaline and far too many action movies, and it was both spectacular and idiotic in the best possible way. Who the hell cared about the consequences? What even were the consequences? I foresaw vague, shapeless bad things happening to me as a result of jumping off the roof, and as long as they remained vague and shapeless, I was good. But that was when Jase said “if you want to break both your legs,” and suddenly… well, I could picture myself breaking both my legs, and suddenly the idea seemed more stupid than spectacular. But the sequence was already in motion. I had already started to spring.
What happened was I propelled myself off the roof while also trying desperately to cling to the shingles with my fingertips. The result was an awkward and graceless roll off the roof, and I plummeted twelve feet into the dirt with an all-mighty thump that jarred every bone in my body.
“AHHHHHH! OH MY GOD!” I shouted. “Holy crap! I think I broke everything!”
“Are you okay?” said Alex, smashing his face against the fence. “That was awesome! What even was that?”
“That was awesome,” agreed Jase. “Awkward, but awesome.”
With the awesomeness of my stunt no longer in question, I was able to assess that my butt took the full brunt of the impact. It was the first of two times I would bruise my tailbone over the course of my life, but I quickly moved past this and settled on the “what the hell do I do now” aspect of it all. I was now trapped inside the baseball field, and I was probably going to have to stay here until the students came out for gym class Monday morning.
Jase and Alex were trying to find a solution to what had mushroomed into a full-scale Problem (I heard things like “We could dig a tunnel…”) while I explored the dugout. I found a few bottles of Gatorade, some peanuts, and some keys. Keys?
“KEYS!” I yelled. “I FOUND THE KEYS!”
And that’s how we accidentally broke into a high school baseball field, drank some of their Gatorade, and booked it before they could ever know who broke their rickety ladder.