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Wednesday, June 15, 2005


ah, the classic water-park-in-a-box! the teethy youngsters that adorn the front! the vibrant sunshine! the oodles of laughter that comes with this epic summertime funtime! when the commercial comes on, i am killing the summer between third and fourth grade, sitting about three feet from the television, indian style. i see those youngsters and their sunshine before me. they are perfectly hued with their appropriate little bathing suits and well-manicured lawns. they are leaping! jumping! sliding! splashing! untormented from the summer heat! as a girl that grew up in a low-income housing apartment complex, this was the closest i'd get to a waterpark adventure. and...AND...i could have it in my very own back yard! MOOOOMMM!! CAN I HAVE THIS??!! PLLLEAAASE!!! i run yelling into the kitchen to find her.

weeks later, when my pleading had become unbearable, or i'd traded a sufficient number of chores for the prize, were in the backyard ripping open the box that is held together with gigantic killer staples. i see my lovely little cronies on the box's front, the same that had been on TV, i thought. i have visions of being the neighborhood it-girl and maybe do a little wiggly-jig to demonstrate my excitement.

but, my dear friends, this is the closest that little girl will get to her dream.

for now, i've realized that you must blow up large portions of the slip-n-slide. 45 minutes later, i am feeling weak and my mother is getting annoyed that i've already put on my bathing suit. she scolds me quietly with her eyes.

as she unwraps the hose, her hands and arms and t-shirt are muddied with last year's dirt mixing with this year's spigot leak. once it is connected to my personal waterpark, i begin to see that something is terribly wrong. i do not have a large grassy span of yard to manipulate for proper launching and sliding trajectories. i have a ten-by-ten area of shotty grass that is bordered by a chain-link fence on one side and a slab of grey concrete on the other. i struggle to rearrange, pulling out my incessant wedgies after each bend-over. when i am finally satisfied, the slide part of the toy is now on a slight incline. i may have not noticed it now, but in a moment i certainly will. until then, my mother hammers in the plastic stakes.

the herds of children i had expected to approach during this process have not yet shown. i brush this off and yell for my brother to come out and play with me. he'll do for now. as i wait for him to dress, i try to ignore my bladder's urging. i will likely not go pee for hours; going potty with a one-piece bathingsuit on is simply ridiculous and unthinkable to a 10 year old.

when my brother finally arrives in waterpark attire, i give a quick run-down of the rules of my theme park. he politely obliges, interjecting when he feels the rules are downright foolish, but only to be silenced by my pointer finger and fierce scowl.

of course, i tell him, i will be going first.

the slide is nice and slippery and the pool toward the end has now gathered about a quarter of an inch of glorious water. both are glistening and i hear the water's tinkling. i am glory bound.

i give my brother an imaginary ticket and start lifting each leg with might as i pretend to climb the stars to this ultimate, killer ride.

i give a nervous smile, then leap....!

i hit the thin plastic with a surprising thud and my elbow finds a large rock which, as i slip down the slide, then scrapes my pudgy belly and lanky legs. i realize that one of the anchoring pegs has been lifted with my ungraceful landing, causing the plastic to flap over my feet like the curling tongue of a storybook beast. my nervous smile is now a grimmace and the little plastic streamers leading to the pool area mock me with tickles as i land face-first into a muddy puddle.

i stop for a moment to blow the muck from my lips and rub my aching arm. there is a whimper perhaps, but no tears. my brother is yelling that it's his turn.

i get up, bruised, dejected, speckled with blades of grass and bugbites, and march toward our concrete slab to find my towel.

i don't want to play anymore. i'm going to find my SkipIt.


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