Linenger's Letters to his Son

April 12, 1997
"
The unsuspecting victim has no clue that you are coming"

Dear John:

Remember that game we’d play, where I’d peep around the corner of the sofa, and try to sneak up on you? When you saw me, you’d laugh and laugh.

Well, up here it is really great. No sounds of footsteps. No creaking floors. You silently fly through the air and the unsuspecting victim has no clue that you are coming.

There is a startle response, but I can’t say accurately that they “jump,” because usually they are floating themselves. But you can hear them gasp. And flail their arms and legs out. And then try to pretend that they weren’t startled. Tee-hee.

Oh, of course I don’t intentionally try to sneak up and scare people, but it happens naturally quite often in the course of a day. As a matter of fact, something (someone?) just bumped into my leg--a floating food container gone astray--and my heartbeat probably increased just a bit.

Speaking of hearts, they have a pretty easy life up here. My blood pressure has been consistently very low, especially the big number--systolic blood pressure. Pulse fiftyish. It’s like a vacation for the heart up here, no blood pooling in the legs, no gravity to make the blood “heavy.” Only my treadmill workouts give it any challenge at all. And, of course, when someone else sneaks up on me.

Okay, I admit it. I do fly my approaches to others a bit closer than necessary sometimes, and hold off clearing my throat. I think it goes back to my childhood.

We were at a cottage in Michigan. Just the boys--Dads and sons. Rustic place, middle of nowhere. We were playing euchre, a card game, in the cottage next door. My brother Kenny lost, and went back, alone, to the cottage we were staying in.

I found him peacefully watching a late night movie, fully reclined, feet up, on a Lazyboy. How I got to a position directly behind him without the creaky floor creaking I’ll never know. I remained silently behind him until the program reached a suspenseful moment, then grabbed him solidly with both my arms and screamed as loud as I could in his ear.

Never had I, nor never will I ever again, see a startle response to top his. He did jump. Arms shook wildly. Air whooshed out of his mouth but without making a sound. His adrenaline used, he was too exhausted afterwards to beat me up--which I had fully expected. He gave me a dirty look, tried to say something but was unable to form words, and stumbled off to bed fully spent. It was great.

Alright, it’s your bedtime and mine. I have the new photo I received of you, with your angel wings and halo (now that is pushing it a bit-- I’d bet you’d try to scare your Uncle Kenny just like I did, given the opportunity), attached to the wall where I sleep, and think of you and Mommy daily. Goodnight to you both.

Love,

Dad.

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