What do you want to be when you grow up? I ask my son Leroy.
An architect! The 6-year-old proclaims.
Well, why wait.
We start building the world’s tallest rollercoaster right here in our suburban backyard. We lay a concrete slab and bolt down some 6 x 6s. Seeing a young lad carry three times his body weight makes a father proud. We stack and drill and bolt until we’re 150 feet into the sky and glimpse down at the town’s water tower.
Dad, I don’t want to be an architect anymore.
Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?
We build further up into a stage for a stand-up rollercoaster. Leroy will be able to do his bit while plummeting down to his audience. His jokes are about Legos and are childish, sounding like something you’d read on a popsicle stick. I throw in some curse words and dick jokes to help his “shock factor.” We build a dressing room stacked by a lobby stacked by a concession stand until we’re 300 feet in the air and the beams can hold our audience. We look down at the neighbors who are jealous of my accomplishments.
Dad, I don’t want to be a comedian anymore.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A fire cop!
We build more levels onto the comedy coaster and add holding cells to detain anyone who gets out of line. Our roller coaster is leaning like it wants to loop so I add some weight to the other side to straighten it out while Leroy lays flat, hugging the platform. I start a fire for Leroy to put out and keep busy. Smoke burns our eyes but takes our breath away. Our creation is magnificent and our tears fall 450 feet into our house’s gutters.
Dad, I don’t want to be a fire cop anymore.
What the hell do you wanna be then?
Um, maybe a groundskeeper?
A groundskeeper would be perfect for when I retire and need cheaper golf fees and prime tee times. I tell Leroy how he’ll learn more from a high vantage point once we hit our goal. We’re 100 feet away from accomplishing our dream. The town is looking up to us. Leroy is looking up to me.