PROSE FICTION: Extreme Dad
As I was growing up, each autumn brought with it the excitement of a new school year and new friends. However, I did not look forward to the inevitable question young boys pose to one another: “What does your
Line 5 dad do?” Some people cannot remember being asked that question in school, but it bears special weight for me. My father is recently retired from his career as a Hollywood stunt performer. When I was a child, he would do more death-defying tricks in a week than I’m
10 sure I will ever do in my lifetime. My father’s extreme career and energetic lifestyle made him the coolest dad in town, and I had to live up to him. For American boys, no piece of plywood is safe; it has “ramp” written all over. We would prop some
15 plywood up on a cinderblock and see how high it could launch us on a bike or skates. That was sufficiently fun for years, but eventually my father’s reputation caught up with me. Soon, my friends wanted to go bigger with the idea of a homemade launch pad. They urged
20 me to seek my father’s help. At first, I resisted, since I didn’t want to start a trend of hair-raising stunts on my neighborhood street. Who knows what the old lady across the street would think? As it turned out, my father was more eager than
25 I was to introduce some stunts to my group of friends. Instead of building a giant ramp, he suggested, why not build a platform high in the ponderosa pine tree out back from which we could rappel to the ground? It sounded crazy to me, but I yielded to my father.
30 He loved the cliché appeasement, “Trust me; I’m a professional.” So, that afternoon, my friends, father, and I piled in the truck and headed for the lumberyard. By this time, I was starting to warm to the idea of a rappelling platform in my backyard. My friends could
35 hardly contain their excitement. After all, they were about to do something crazy under the supervision of a real stuntman! My father cruised the aisles at the lumberyard with amazing deftness and efficiency. As he waited for some
40 plywood to be cut, he filled his cart with all kinds of materials that little boys love: nails, screws, glue, chain, cable, nuts, and bolts. This would be the first time my friends and I had built anything out of shiny, new parts. No doubt this would be the most awesome
45 stunt in town! When we returned home, we unloaded all of the supplies near the base of the tree. Looking up the trunk, my friends and I realized we had a lot of cool building materials but no way to get them up the tree.
50 At that moment, my dad emerged from the garage. “Here’s the last piece.” He held a climbing harness and rope in his hands. “Now I’m going to go up there and build the structure, then two of you can come up and help with the rigging.” For the next hour, we sat
55 in stunned silence. My father threw one end of his rope around an upper limb, secured it, and started the slow process of drawing on the two mechanical ascenders. Before long, he had reached the notch in the tree, braced himself, and sent down a length of cord to us.
60 “Put a quarter-inch bit in the drill and send it up,” he cried. We prepared the drill and tied it to the line. My father hoisted it and bored the boltholes into the tree. We repeated this process with two-by-fours, bolts, nuts, and finally the plywood square that would become
65 the platform. My father built it with lightning speed. One of my friends gaped at how quickly my father could drive screws. Before long, Dad called down saying everything was finished and ready for “preliminary testing.” I didn’t know what he meant by that. “Stand
70 back, guys,” my dad called. We hastily obliged. My father, already standing on the platform, looked strangely comfortable so high in the ponderosa tree. Granted, he was still in his harness roped to the tree, but nerves have a funny way of ignoring appeals to logic.
75 Satisfied with his handiwork, my dad began bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet. The platform didn’t budge. Next, he started jumping up and down violently. This shook the platform and made the tree sway, but everything seemed soundly built and tightly secured.
80 “All right, now we learn to rappel.” My father slid down his rope and called us to join him in the attic of the garage. I had only seen what was up there a few times, and it mostly bored me. Behind an old armoire, though, was a dusty black trunk that
85 I had never seen before. My father began pulling ropes and harnesses from it, then carabiners and rappelling devices. We eagerly grabbed the equipment and took it to the backyard. My father fit us for the harnesses and began an impromptu lesson on the critical safety rules
90 of climbing and rappelling. In a few hours and after a little practice off the roof of the house, we were all ready to tackle the huge tree in the back yard.
The passage establishes that the narrator and his father have all of the following traits in common EXCEPT:
The best answer is A. In the second paragraph, the narrator states, “I didn’t want to start a trend of hair-raising stunts,” but his father continues with his plan for a rappelling platform anyway.
Which of the following is NOT an accurate description of the passage?
The best answer is J. The passage focuses on the fun that the narrator, his father, and his friends had while building a rappelling platform, even though there was some hesitation on the part of the narrator. Only the first paragraph details the narrator’s father’s popularity, and nothing in the passage suggests that the narrator is “struggling” with it.
In both the first paragraph (lines 1–12) and the second paragraph (lines 13–23) the author is portraying a narrator who:
The best answer is C. The first and second paragraph demonstrate that the narrator is more timid than his father when it comes to exhilarating stunts. The narrator is not sure whether he wants to bring his friends to his father for ideas.
At the time of writing the story, the narrator is:
The best answer is J. The first sentence of the passage establishes a timeframe that reveals the narrator is no longer a child: “As I was growing up, ...” Therefore eliminate answer choices G and H. The tone of the passage is positive so answer choice J is best.
The passage states that the narrator had to cope with his father’s reputation as:
The best answer is A. The last sentence of the first paragraph describes the narrator’s father’s “extreme career and energetic lifestyle.” Answer choice D might seem correct, although the passage notes that the narrator’s father was once a Hollywood stuntman, indicating that he would be trained in safety procedures, some of which arise during his “impromptu lesson on the critical safety rules.”
Which of the following statements best describes the way the fourth paragraph (lines 38–45) functions in the passage as a whole?
The best answer is H. In the paragraph, the author describes the pleasure of following his father around the lumberyard, as well as the anticipation of what all the “shiny, new parts” would serve to build, which best supports answer choice H.
The statement “eventually my father’s reputation caught up with me” (lines 17–18) functions in the passage to support the narrator’s view that:
The best answer is B. After this sentence, the rest of the passage describes how the narrator’s friends convinced him to consult his father for advice on a bigger, bolder stunt. This information suggests that this uncommon adventure, at least, was the result of the narrator’s father’s unusual occupation.
It can reasonably be inferred from the passage as a whole that the narrator views his father’s reputation as one that developed:
The best answer is J. According to the passage, “My father is recently retired from his career as a Hollywood stunt performer. When I was a child, he would do more death-defying tricks in a week than I’m sure I will ever do in my lifetime. My father’s extreme career and energetic lifestyle made him the coolest dad in town, and I had to live up to him,” which best supports answer choice J.
As it is used in line 54, rigging most nearly means:
The best answer is D. The word “rigging” is a well-known sailing term, referring to the ropes and pulleys used with the sails. By extension, any support system of ropes or similar lines—such as the one required for rappelling—could be called “rigging.” The other answer choices are mentioned in the passage, but do not have the same meaning as “rigging.”
The narrator can most accurately be characterized as:
The best answer is G. The passage states that “At first, I resisted, since I didn’t want to start a trend of hair-raising stunts on my neighborhood street. Who knows what the old lady across the street would think?” Answer choice G is the best choice because while the passage focuses on a fun experience that the narrator had with his friends, it also describes his apprehension to do anything that could be unreasonably dangerous or disruptive to the neighborhood.