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I’m just going to come right out and say it: I hate bouncy houses. You know, those inflatable structures that people toss their children into? Those things.

These days, bouncy houses come in different shapes, like castles, and people rent them and stick them in their backyards for children’s birthday parties. When I was a kid, the beastly bouncy hell was only seen at fairs and carnivals, so you, the kid, were expected to climb into this suffocating plastic cube with a bunch of other kids you didn’t know. Then I guess you’re supposed to wobble around in there with a bunch of strangers and hope you don’t get a concussion. What could be more fun than that?

bouncy house hell

Of course, without fail, there was always one kid in there who had established himself as King of the Bouncy House. He would lie in wait by the back wall, and as kids entered and tried to get their balance, he would strike, with full-body tackles worthy of an NFL linebacker. The less aggressive ones would push and shove, pointy little elbows flying. I’m really surprised they didn’t have an ambulance stationed nearby.

My parents thought bouncy houses were great and always made me go inside when we came across them. Oh, look at all the other kids, Laine. It will be fun! (I don’t blame them. They were probably desperate for some kid-free time at that point. Don’t forget, this was at a fair, so I was most likely hopped up on sugar and obnoxious.) I’d dutifully go in (after whining didn’t get me out of it), try to gain some traction on the hot, sweaty, probably urine-slicked rubber, and prepare myself for the onslaught. Oh, shit. There he is. Duck and cover!