Red Rubber Ball
I think it's gonna be all right. Yes, the worst is over now. The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball. Remember that song? It was by the Cyrkle. I was doing the dishes with my brother, Calvin. I was washing and he was drying. Only he wasn't drying. He was too busy snapping me with his towel. And we were singing along with The Cyrkle. Horribly. But we knew the words. So. So, when the radio announcer said, "Okay folks, the first caller who can tell me the year that, Red Rubber Ball was released, will receive two free lift tickets to Cascade Mountain, I just picked up the receiver and began dialing. It was a rotary phone. This gave me enough time to start calculating how old I was and add it to my birth year. "I must have been about nine," I thought. "Because Calvin looked about eleven to me." I quickly added 1957 + 9. "Go ahead," says the voice on the other end of the line. "Um." "Yes?" "1966?" "That is correctumundo," he says. "How did you know that?" "Just a guess," I said. I stayed on the line and gave out my credentials. I thought I was famous when I heard him say over the radio, "Millie Noe from Lodi, Wisconsin is the winner of the free lift tickets." And then he played Red Rubber Ball. It was 1987. I still knew the words and I could still sing along, horribly. It wasn't long and I was on the phone with my sister, Louisa. "I won free lift tickets." A couple weeks later, Louisa and her husband Pierre and my sweet Sven and I drove to Cascade Mountain on a Saturday night. Sven was sure that I was trying to kill him. Lucky for him, skiing was not in our budget. But it was that night. And Louisa and Pierre didn't have any kids yet, so. They were still made of money. We got on the chair lift and got off at the top. We took a run down the hill, swishing and swooshing our way on that glorious evening under the stars twinkling, freely. We skidded to a halt at the bottom and got back in line. We were at the main lift. The big one. It was a small place. The line wasn't moving. The lift wasn't moving. "Technical difficulties," we heard the mob mutter. We beat the crowd and went inside to wait it out. We ordered a beer. We ate some chili. We ordered another beer. The chairlift was still, still. The other lifts were jammed with impatient skiers. People were getting pissed off up there on the lift that was broken. They were getting cold. They had to pee. They started jumping to the ground. We ordered another beer. We heard somebody broke a leg out there. Beer is quite expensive at ski resorts. So is chili. But what were we to do? Well, we had too many beers and not enough chili to try skiing again. So to be safe, we left Cascade Mountain and we got into the car and we drove over to Devil's Head. Devil's Head was my favorite ski resort in the area. But I didn't win lift tickets to Devil's Head, did I? We went straight to the bar and we sat down in front of the window that faces number three, the hill with the headwall at the bottom. A great place to watch wipeouts. I once saw an Asian guy take out about five people and three wooden spool barrels that the chorale ropes were tied around in one-fell-screaming-swoop. He jumped up and yelled, "I'm allright!" And all the people cheered. And then they pulled all of the injured people back to their feet and took them to First-Aid. That was a great memory. I think I may have been telling that story when I noticed it. "Sven, I can't find my bracelet!", I shrieked. "Look inside your jacket sleeve," he said. "It's probably stuck there." It wasn't there. We searched under the table and under the chairs. Louisa and I retraced our steps to the entrance. Damn. It! It was that real pretty braided silver and gold one that Louisa gave me for being in her wedding, just a few months prior. "Maybe it's on the floor at Cascade," she said. Well, it was not. That's what the girl on the phone told me the next morning when I called. "Nope. Give me your number and I'll call you if it shows up." I knew I would never hear from that girl. And, I still haven't. That big win that I had won is what made me truly understand that old saying. You know the one. People say it all the time. "Nothing in life is free." I think it should be changed up a little bit. How about this? "Ain't nothing in life that is free. And if it is, you are going to have one hell of a bar tab and somebody else is going to be wearing your pretty bracelet." Have any of you heard that one? Well, that very fun night was the only and the most expensive, free night of skiing, I have ever had. And now back to my story. After a fine time at Devil's Head we headed to the car to get going home. In the parking lot, just as Pierre was opening his door, he says, "Hey, I've got an idea. Let's go to the Dane County Airport." "What!!?" "Come on," he says. "We're on a roll. They have just as expensive beers at the airport as any ski resort." I haven't heard, Red Rubber Ball, for a long time. But I still like it. I still know the words. And I can still sing it, real bad. Come on everybody, sing along. "I should have know to bid you farwell...."