Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winter Sledding

They have outlawed sledding on the Big Hill , well the only hill, in my town. Yes here in the flatlands of the Midwest, we have but one solitary hill, a retired landfill of a lump, landscaped over and set in a broad flat park of ball diamonds and soccer fields.

We live in a town full of lawyers, successful lawyers (no one else can really afford to live here anymore) in a region full of lawyers, in a state and a country full of lawyers where anyone who has ever been hurt by anything can win the lottery of a lawsuit. And little municipalities like mine, worn out from defending themselves from their citizens own stupidity are fighting back and cracking down. They throw you off the beaches at dusk in summer, and now, when we finally have a real ball breaker of a winter with decent snow, they are hiring a security firm to keep us off the best sled run in the suburbs. You are not completely banned, of course. The slow sloping baby hills that shoulder the sled run are still open for business with huge red No Trespassing signs. But there is no sport in riding down a hill with less slope than the stairs of my front porch.

And so, in a land of couch potatoes, we corpulently sit at our glowing screens seeking excitement, since the thrill has gone out of an analog childhood. In a world where everything must be safe to be sanctioned, a world where nothing is really safe—where families are suicide bombed at weddings, flattened like pancakes in earthquakes as they sleep, or swept out to sea in tsunamis, or stranded on rooftops for days after hurricanes, in such a world, sledding down a hill is too dangerous to be allowed.

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