it started out innocent enough.
a practice tennis ball attached to a ten foot long rubber band, tied to a hook hanging in a doorway frame that separated a hallway from the den.
the idea: let comet, our cairn terrier with a tennis ball fixation, grab it off the floor and have hours of fun with his own game of tug of war.
and i would be left alone to watch the hockey game without interruption.
a beautiful thing.
well, more like a beautiful thing not completely thought through.
actually a dumb thing really.
anyway, i taunted comet with the dangling ball.
he grabbed it in his vice like jaws, and began to back up down the hallway, shaking it with each step he took backwards, grunting in terrier delight.
i stood and watched in amusement.
it was when he was half way down the hallway, i’d say about twelve feet, ball still in mouth, rubber band stretching, that i realized there was a problem.
what if he let go?
i started to yell, come here!
don’t know why, never worked before.
instead, he tugged harder until his little legs could tug no more and the rubber band stretched beyond any distance i ever could have had imagined.
his head was stretched forward, saliva dripping from the corner of his mouth, as he made little groans behind his cheeks, until he fell forebodingly silent.
i stood in the doorway, frozen in a stare down with this mad dog some twenty feet away.
then he did something he had never done before when we played tug of war.
he let go of the ball.
the blazing, green projectile zipped across the hallway like a screaming rocket, smacking me square in the chest, knocking me backwards into the arm of the couch, sending me up and over, feet flailing skyward.
the drool drenched missile bounced from my chest to the right, smashing one of a pair of hard-to-find, glass candle chimneys that were nicely placed on each end of the fireplace mantel.
my son witnessed the whole thing.
when the ball finally came to a rest amidst the rubble, my son looked at me agape.
then we both broke out in the kind of laugh only a father and son can have at the expense of another dad-dumb idea gone terribly wrong.
it was an uncontrollable laugh until we heard from a far recess of the house, what was that!!!you know, the kind of "what was that" that sends sensible men scattering for cover.
alas, there was no escape, no explaining this gem.
after my initial bold, yet ineffective, move to blame comet, i simply sucked it up and took my brow beating with quiet humility, hoping my son might learn the proper way to atone for one’s manstakes.
(the jury is still out on whether he has or has not learned the ways of proper atonement)