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Fighting soldiers from the sky
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You know you’ve gained weight when you’re shopping at your usual haunt (yes ... OK ... it’s Wal-Mart) and your child says, “Who is the parachute for?”

“Huh? What parachute?”

“That one! The one you just put in the cart with the flowers and butterflies on it!”

You reach into the cart and extract said item.

A pair of women’s undies.

“Holy smoke!” you think to yourself, “When did I become this?”

“Oh.. This...” you stammer. “Well, I figured it was time your GI Joe stepped up to the plate and graduated to a real parachute!”

“My GI Joe is not going to be seen anywhere near that thing!”

“Come on now, you know your GI Joe has a sensitive side.”

“Ma, don’t even talk like that. I don’t even know what “sensitive” means, and I know GI Joe doesn’t either!”

“OK. How ‘bout we compromise? I buy some black ones and he can use those.”

“Show me.”

Back down the aisle to the mau-mau panties, the kind that could cover a lawn mower? You know ’em...don’t act like you don’t...

You hold up a pair of black cotton briefs, one size larger than you would normally buy because you know they will shrink whether you want them to or not.

“Oh my gosh, Ma ... that’s huge! He’d catch a lot of wind with those!”

No joke intended to be sure, but you answer, “Quite right, my friend, these big ol’ things certainly do catch a lot of wind!”

“Yeah! Let’s get those,” he says, with a big smile.

You are trying to picture how you’ll rig up those gynormous undies so that GI Joe can have a turn or two being thrown up into the air and landing with a thud.

You know there is no way on earth he is gonna catch a breeze and land softly. No HALO mission here. You can see the numerous attempts fruitofthelooming large, eventually leading to tears and frustration. On your part.

Once home, your child darts into the house and although you anticipate a few minutes to catch your breath, thinking he’s in there diggin’ through his toybox, silly you forgets the status of GI Joe. Not to be relegated to the quagmire that is all the other toys. Joe gets top honors. He is sitting on the pillow. On the bed. Waiting to be called in to action.

“Ma! Come on! Let’s go try it!”

Naturally, he wants to try it out in the front yard.

You pull out the very unsexy black briefs that you have hidden under your shirt and turn them upside down with Joe’s arms through the leg holes. You look left, you look right. No one around. It’s safe.

You twist the briefs around Joe tightly and toss him as high as your flabby grandma arms will let you.

Think “The RoadRunner” cartoon, and the whistle that occurs as the andiron screams its way down to Wile E. Coyote’s upturned face.

Poor Joe. He falls as hard as that andiron.

Your child looks crestfallen, but you know what to do, having been out with an Airborne Ranger or two in your demure youth.

“Oh! How could I be so stupid, son?? I folded his parachute the wrong way!”

You plonk to the ground on your knees, very neatly folding the shower-curtain sized chonies into a packet, and then standing upright to yet again hurl the mighty Joe into the atmosphere.

He comes down, not so much like a bullet, but like some poor bird that’s lost a wing and can’t fly right.

The wind suddenly kicks up and he heads for the nearest Georgia pine.

Like George of the Jungle, you shout, “Watch out for that ... treeeeeee!”

Joe falls to the ground again, but without the gigantic chute, which looks more like a hot air balloon.

It’s hanging on a branch, blowin’ in the wind.

The big mau-maus are just up there swingin’, like a big ol’ black pirate flag.

You and the child look at each other. He is disappointed because Joe didn’t quite billow to the ground.

You’re disappointed because there is no way anyone is not gonna see those undies!

“Dude,” you say to your child, “that chute cost me three bucks.”

“Dude,” says the child, “I know it ain’t no chute!”

So did poor ol’ Joe...