The girls wanted to play with the Slip N’ Slide today. I tried to talk them out of it but found that my argument essentially boiled down to “I would rather sit on the couch in the cocoon of my darkened house than frolic outside in the fresh air and have some summer fun, ” so I decided to just go with it.
I do not have fond memories of the Slip N’ Slide. As a child, I recall feeling rather certain that whoever invented this device lived in a land far, far away from mine. The theory is that you lay a long yellow tarp down across the grass, wet it, and when kids run and jump on it they’ll glide along in a splashtastic spray of water. In those northern places (you know, the ones that have those things called “seasons”) like Oregon, Washington, perhaps Vermont and Maine, I’m sure that this works out very well. I can just picture throwing yourself down onto the tarp only to be cushioned by lush, springy grass that helps you glide along as if on a cloud.
Here in Texas, that’s not how it works.
When we threw ourselves on Slip N’ Slides, we were met with a bone-crushingly hard ground that was sparsely covered by grass that had the consistency of old hay. As we slid down the yellow tarp for our three seconds of fun, we’d invariably experience the familiar explosion of pain from previously undiscovered rocks or sticks jabbing deep into our internal organs. Then we’d slide off the end into some fire ants.
The girls, however, did not seem to share my perception of this activity as abject misery, and set up the Slip N’ Slide in my front yard with unbridled enthusiasm. I tried to join in this all-American ritual of doing things outdoors in the heat and enjoying it, but I’ve been out of practice for, oh, 20 years. I stood stiffly near the yellow tarp and occasionally forced a supportive comment about the sliding prowess of the young ladies. Within about two minutes my skin began to get blotchy and I thought I had the beginning symptoms of heat stroke, so I shuffled over to a tree to get in the shade. I made a mental note to find a book I could read that offers a detailed exposition of how one could go about carefree summertime frolicking. Compared to the laughing, running kids around me, a passerby might have mistaken me for a statue of a sullen albino.
“Miss Jennifer! Miss Jennifer! Do you want to slide with us? It’s so much fun!” they called out to me.
“At what point, pray tell, will the fun begin?” I wanted to ask. “When I hoist myself awkwardly down onto the tarp, when the ice cold water sends my overheated system into shock, or when I engage in some sort of motion that begins a forward trajectory over the various hard objects in our yard?” Instead I just shook my head and adjusted my oversized black sunglasses.
I had gone through the Herculean effort of wrestling my children into bathing suits so that they could join in this so-called fun. I saw that my two-year-old redheaded daughter, the only one of my children unfortunate enough to get all the Irish genes, was increasingly looking like a lobster despite being caked in SPF 45 sunscreen. People with our skin tone don’t need SPF; we need burkhas.
As all the children smiled in glee at the wonder of the Slip N’ Slide*, I did feel thankful that at least we are safely removed from the rich neighborhoods where kids these days have inflatable water wondercastles that the bring the thrill and joy of a water theme park right to your front yard. Around here, we can still get away with throwing some plastic on the ground, hosing it down and calling it a day.
I realize this whole post is apropos of nothing, but why have a blog if you can’t occasionally take a post to complain about the heat? I guess all I’m trying to say is: IT’S HOT OUT THERE, Y’ALL.
* All of them except the redhead, that is. Our day of fun was abruptly cut short when some water droplets touched her and she screamed about it for twenty minutes, leading me to realize that she is not a fun in the sun person either.
Photo by Paco CT
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