"You totally could not!"
"Do it then!"
I grinned. "Very well, stand back!"
The bet that I'd just accepted involved a dome-like swing set near my college and Dave's refusal to believe in my gymnastics abilities. To be fair, he had recently seen me trip over my own feet during the Footloose line dance at a Newman Center Country Night and knock down twenty people like a row of dominoes, but I kept pointing out that a) I was never coordinated at 10pm at night and b) "you try dancing when your feet are as big as mine!"
Anyway, I figured if I swung high enough, I could jump out of the seat at the apex of my swing and hook my feet over the nearest rail at the top of the dome in order to hang upside-down without doing all the work of climbing up there. I made the mistake of wondering this out loud in the presence of Dave and Courtney, Dave heard and challenged me, and Courtney was now eyeing me in a manner suggestive of the contemplation of a future hospital trip.
Dave took out his phone, ostentatiously opening the camera app. I glared at him. "Put that thing away before I break it."
"Come on! This will be epic!" Dave pleaded.
"Don't jinx me. And if my face breaks your camera, don't expect me to buy you a new one." I wrinkled my nose and pushed off.
Dave thought for a moment. "I don't think you're that bad-looking--"
"I will pummel you, so help me--hold on a sec," I cut myself off as I got nearer my target. Gauging the distance carefully on the upswing, I convulsively straightened my legs and hurled myself off the swing.
It...sorta worked. I mean, I hooked the bar with my legs, but I was going so fast in the forward direction that I actually unhooked myself and fell eight feet back to the ground to land on my front with a loud thud.
Dave doubled over laughing. I groaned, trying to get some air back in my lungs. "Shuddup. I never said I could stay on..."
"Are you okay?" Courtney asked, sounding like she was trying to hold in some pretty impressive laughter.
I rolled over onto my back. As a matter of fact, that had felt like my ribs had been driven straight out my backside, but I had a bit of a crush on this girl and my eighteen-year-old self was not going to admit to pureeing his ribs, so I gave her a thumbs-up. "Oh, yeah, just fine!"
She laughed too as Dave snapped a picture. I threw myself sideways to hide my face--I really didn't like getting my picture taken. (Still don't, actually.) "Dude, really?"
"That was hysterical!" Dave laughed. "Going to try again?"
I got up, dusting sand off my kiester. "Eh, I'm good for now." I threw him a slightly wicked grin. "You want a turn?"
"No!" Dave yelped. "I don't have nine lives like you do!"
"Too bad. You'd have way more fun," I remarked.
Courtney shivered and changed the subject out of necessity. "It's freezing."
"Want to come back to my place?" Dave offered.
Courtney and I looked at each other and shrugged. "I don't have any homework or anything," I offered. "Courtney?"
She smiled a little. "I do, but I'm ignoring it. Sure, let's go!"
We piled into Dave's car and headed off to his apartment. Once there, I installed myself on the nearest couch while he and Courtney took the other one. We talked school for a while, during which time Dave tried to tick me off by taking pictures of me at inopportune times. His favorite was one where he caught my hand in the act of coming down after brushing my hair off my forehead. The angle and timing made it look like I was picking my nose. He promptly posted it to Facebook.
I was still cold, and now I was mildly annoyed. Time to kill two birds with one stone. "That does it. I challenge you to Ninja," I announced.
Dave sprang up eagerly. "Deal!"
"I'm in," Courtney announced unexpectedly.
We formed a triangle, bowed, and assumed ridiculous fighting poses. "And...go!" I yelled, swinging for Dave's hand.
For those unlucky souls who have never played Ninja, it works like this. You must remain perfectly still until it's your turn, at which point you can make one quick strike at an opponent's hand, moving your feet if necessary. Your opponent can't move his or her feet, but they can try to use one motion to get their hand(s) out of the way. You basically just go around the circle like that, alternating turns. When someone's hand is tagged, they're out.
Anyway, Dave evaded my hand by leaning back. I froze, arm outstretched: a perfect target. Dave knew it, too. He sliced down; I yanked my hand back to safety. Courtney tried to capitalize on my dodge by jumping behind me and trying to tag my other hand. I snatched that one back too, then, before she could recover, tapped the back of her hand quickly.
"Out!" I announced.
"Crap," Courtney said good-naturedly and retired to the couch.
Dave narrowed his eyes at me and wasted his turn by jumping into a more suitable ninja stance. "I'm gonna getcha!"
I cocked an eyebrow at him and used my turn to rearrange myself as well--into an actual Taekwondo combat stance. "You do realize I'm a martial artist, right?"
He lunged. I moved my front hand just inches, causing him to miss. "Dang, you're quick," he complained.
My hand flashed down. Luckily for him, he overbalanced at that precise moment and fell over. I missed. "Hey, cheating!"
"Not my fault!" Dave protested, rolling to his feet.
I waited for his attack.
He frowned. "Um, it's your turn, isn't it?"
"I just went, remember?"
"Yeah, but I used my turn getting up."
I grinned. "Oh, right." I shuffled forward, snapping my left hand down to stomach height, straight out in front of me. My right hand I held back, cocked at my shoulder. It was a beautiful target for Dave, as well as a trap--if he went for my outstretched hand, I could yank it back and get him with my other hand.I'd used several forms of this trick before, much to several disgruntled people's dismay.
Unfortunately, Dave had been one of those people. He gave me the stink-eye. "Guess what, Taekwondo Boy? I got moves too!"
"Let's see them, then," I said smugly.
To my astonishment, Dave jumped straight up and spun around backwards in midair. As he came down, he flung his back arm out towards me. Being the cocky bugger that I was, I gauged his hand and saw that, even if I didn't move, it would slide underneath my "bait" arm and miss. So, naturally, I decided to show off a little by not moving.
I completely forgot about the rest of my body...that could, conceivably, be in the path of his wildly flailing hand.
Dave missed my hand spectacularly, all right. He did, however, manage to hit me...err, down south. Rather hard. That was the first thud. The second was caused by my inevitable collapse. I don't care what girl you're trying to impress--you're not gonna stay on your feet after a low blow like that.
"Did I get you?" Dave asked eagerly, rising from his crouch.
"Dude...that...wasn't...my...hand," I gasped out from my fetal position.
Courtney burst out laughing so hard, I thought she was going to fall off the couch. Dave's mouth dropped open. "Oh my gosh--I'm sorry--wait, I really hit you?"
I nodded as best I could.
The humor of the situation suddenly struck Dave. He started roaring with laughter too, to the point where he had to sit down. I managed a few chuckles as I started recovering, slowly pushing myself towards a kneeling position. "I supposed I should be grateful it wasn't your foot, with how much you were flailing around," I said dryly.
The other two were in more need of recovery than I was at this point. "And thank goodness you weren't in the kitchen, or he'd have hit you with a blender!" Courtney gasped out.
"At least I didn't headbutt him," Dave wheezed.
We were all laughing uproariously now. A thought suddenly came to me; I reached out at smacked Dave's hand as he lay on the ground. "Ninja Master for the win!"
It was a full five minutes before we were in any shape to talk, much less stand up. Finally, Dave heaved himself to his feet and demanded a rematch. Courtney and I agreed, standing up to join him. Right as we were about to start, I couldn't help saying...
"Credit where it's due, Dave--you do have some moves!"