i was six when i tightened my cowboy belt a notch, then stepped off the asbury park beach towel, pinned at my shoulders and draped to the ground—about a foot too long.
i studied the stone marker i had placed ten well calculated paces ahead.
after a final swipe at my crusty nose with my sleeve, i took off like a bat out of hell, hands stiff to my side.
the new jersey beach front on my cape whirled majestically in my wake.
my eyes focused on the launch point.
i hit it perfectly, bringing both feet together, executing a precision not often carried out by my gangly limbs, the same limbs that would someday become my namesake—cranelegs.
bent at the knees, i sprung my body forward and up, as i raised my arms to point them just above the tree line ahead.
my rigid body became airborne.
i probably darted through space as much as three inches before i slammed to the ground like a collapsed ironing board.
i lay there for a moment.
the towel draped over my head.
my shirt yanked from my dungarees.
i could feel the cool morning grass on my belly.
i seemed to be in one piece as i rolled over on my back, arching my head backwards until i could see the tree line above, albeit upside down.
i guess i had miscounted the required bowls of wheaties i needed to eat in preparation.
one bowl a day for ten days in a row to be exact.
it was quite possible that my newly acquired counting-to-ten skill needed some more work.
it was the only thing that made sense.
i must have been a bowl or two short in the end.
no telling what kind of impact that would have had on the whole operation.
yeah, that had to be it.
i would need to start all over again, but this time i would keep count of the bowls of wheaties on paper.
i rolled back over onto my stomach to get up before lesser kids spied me, especially any of my three younger brothers.
but before i sauntered back into the house to regroup, i studied a rather large, agitated earthworm resist being carried off by a much smaller, determined ant.
i thought, just like that ant, i too was determined, for there would be another attempt in my future.
after all, this was not a destined mishap resulting from the folly of imagination, but rather a manageable misstep resulting in a failed feat of certainty.
i just needed to get the wheaties count right and i'd be over those trees in no time flat.