The heat in LA just got too much last week. With temperatures rising above 100F (37C) in Studio City where we live, my wife decided to save the day by bringing home the ultimate white-trash front lawn accessory, a water slide.
I never had a Slip'n Slide as a kid. I'm sure they were popular in the People's Republic of Pakuranga but for some reason, I missed out. I guess I was just out of the loop. I do recall having a go on one however, possibly at a school gala ... or was it when I was in the army?
Yes, yes that was it. It's all coming back to me now ... I think it was during the scorching summer of'94. There was a distinct lack of local war going on so my Signal Squadron initiated a phase called "training-for-the-sake-of-it". The Sergeant Major had us all lined up in a row in front of a strip of wet tarpaulin. I stood to attention with my knobbly knees shaking below my tight camo togs.
"Right you lot, this is the big one! Run, leap and slide for your life!"
Leaping was the easy part, it was the landing that worried me. Slip'n Slides are only meant for kids. It says so on the packet. And that's because anyone taller could seriously damage themselves during the "slip" part of the proceedings. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission between 1973 and 1991 seven adults and one teenager reported injuries suffered while using the product. Injuries like whiplash, fracturing of the bones and even paraplegia. Thank God then that this was New Zealand, a country that prides itself on the "she'll be right" attitude. We were Kiwi soldiers after all. Battle-hardened veterans of sheep-rescue missions and local Anzac Day parades. I remember leaping through the air and landing like a seal, not a Navy Seal, more of a circus seal that spins a lot and claps at himself when he's finished.
Back in the present I found myself having to relive this challenge. My kids are too small and shy to do the running leap so it was up to me to lead the way.
I stood for a moment, poised on the grass. "Can I do this?" After all, I'm nearly 40 years old. But then like a war-torn flashback my boyhood memory came flooding back. "I can do this! I've done it before."
And with that I ran, leaped and slid and my kids burst into laughter.
Perhaps this was meant to be. The water slide's a sign for my life right now, as Paul Simon sings ...
Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away.
It turns out my destination was the tree on the front lawn. I misjudged the slip versus length ratio.
Oh well, that's what happens when you buy a non-official slightly too short Slip'n Slide for $3.95 at a clearance sale.