100 Horrible Stories – Day 2 (Bouncy Castles and Graduation Tassels)

100 Horrible Stories – Day 2 (Bouncy Castles and Graduation Tassels)

Thanks to inspiration from OTA I’m joining The Great Discontent ‪#‎The100DayProject‬, a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making, empowered by the accountability of doing a project alongside others in a very public way. Pictures of these projects are posted daily on Instagram.

I asked myself, at the end of 100 days, what would I like to have amassed? The answer, for me was 100 first drafts.  So, I will write and post a 500 word story a day with the hashtag ‪#‎100DaysOfHorribleStories‬Why horrible? Because what can go wrong if I aim for horrible and fail?


Sitting alone in the hot sun at the graduation ceremony, I clutched my handkerchief ready to wipe away tears. I saw many familiar faces, glistening with tears, not unlike my own.

The seniors were filing in. Some gawky, some graceful, some downright terrified. I’d seen a good share of them drift in and out of my house, friends of my kids, on the journey from child to adult. It was a journey that was fascinating to watch. Especially when they didn’t know you were watching.

It seemed almost effortless, the imperceptible shift when my teenage daughter and her friends went from the aloof waifs who were almost too cool to converse with anyone outside of their immediate circle, to the reckless, sweaty abandon they displayed at parties and gatherings especially those that featured a bouncy castle.

Those dirty, grimy, germ-infested, noisy ubiquitous fixtures at any chili feed, carnival or birthday party. I frankly can’t see the attraction… but they sure could. They jumped and pounced and bounced and slid and flung themselves with such joy, I couldn’t help but smile. But there was a dark side.

When it came time to earn some money in their high school years, many kids, mine included, rushed to the seemingly easy employment offer of helping to transport, unfold, blow up, and monitor these giant, jiggling, colorful sweatshops of juvenile entertainment.

Francine didn’t think twice when the offer came quickly following her application to work with bouncy castles in the summer before her senior year. She made a passing comment about the ‘creepy’ employee population, but was excited about making money sitting in the sun and fresh air.  That’s why it came  as such a surprise when she ended up 150 miles from home at a job that went long into the night.

“Mom,” she said over the phone. “It’s fine. They do this all the time. The company pays for a motel room when the party goes late. I’ll be home in the morning.”

That was the last time I heard her voice.

I clutched my hanky in one hand and accepted the commemorative tassel the school principal gave me after the ceremony with the other, turning to walk home alone in the hot sun.

#100daysofhorriblestories #100dayproject

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