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Lost Journal

Humor Column
by Tim Mollen

Try to Make it to the Couch

Journal Entry:  April 22, 1977 (age 7)

This was a perfect Saturday morning.  As usual, I was the first one up.  I sat in front of the big TV in the basement with a bowl of sugar, milk and Special K cereal (in descending order by volume).  I had Wonderama and Scooby-Doo all to myself.  My 9-year-old brother, Dan, woke up and joined me by the time The Super Friends came on, but since he had not been there first, he was not “in charge” of the TV.   This precedent had been negotiated at the Mollen Family Bunk Bed Summit of 1976.

But the arrival of Soul Train at noon signaled that the idyll of the little ones was drawing to a close.  My brothers John and Bob, ages 17 and 15, arrived on the scene and took control of both the TV and their younger siblings.  The channel was changed to a kung fu movie.  Furniture was rearranged, creating a kind of shag coliseum.  It was time to engage in John and Bob’s favorite pastime.  It was time to play “Try to Make it to the Couch.”

The rules were quite simple.  John and Bob would get on their knees and form a human wall in front of the couch.  Dan and I would then, well, try to make it to the couch.  This basically entailed flinging ourselves at our much larger brothers and clawing, climbing, and wrestling our way around, over, or through them.  Their role, on the bigger hand, was to crush us.  It was not much of a contest.  An onlooker would have been reminded of twin King Kongs swatting at tiny, ineffectual airplanes.  And in this case, if Kong fell, he would fall on top of his attackers.

The TV mapped out the game’s play and rest periods.  When a show was on, John and Bob would watch it.  Dan and I would be dispatched to get snacks and beverages for them.  But the moment a commercial came on, everything was dropped, and “play” resumed.  Participation in Try to Make it to the Couch was mandatory.  The even grimmer alternative involved a storm of fists and tickling.  At least the game offered the faint hope of reaching the cushioned sanctuary that lay beyond JohnBob Mountain.

In today’s game, Dan became the family’s first younger brother ever to make it to the couch.  Bob had sneezed, allowing Dan to step on his head and vault to victory.  Dan’s face flushed with joy and rug burn as he jumped up and down on the couch.  From my compromised vantage point in John’s armpit, I let out a muffled, vicarious yelp of triumph.  For a few blissful moments, the older Mollens seemed dazed.  They had never contemplated this outcome.

Then John lifted me into the air, dumped me on the cushion next to Dan, and nudged Bob.  Within seconds, we all understood the rules for a new game in the Mollen Basement Olympics:  Try to Make it Off the Couch.


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