In My Ohio

On Water Slide Thinking

Darren C. Demaree
I’m thirty. There’s no way around it anymore.

So, when two of my best friends said they were going to take a half-day from work, and go to Zoombezi Bay for the afternoon, I didn’t take them seriously. Three days after our first discussion, I got a text message from one of them letting me know that Krogers had discounts for tickets to the local water park. With the news of that cost-cutting measure, my surprise eased into the warming sensation of joining them for an afternoon of water slides and lukewarm French fries.

Under the cover of taking my young family, a wife and two-year old daughter, to have some together time in the sun and the shade of god-defying water structures, we drove to the Bay. We walked the half-mile from our car to the Zoo entrance, glancing left with the stroller and heading straight past the gentlemen waiting to check our diaper bag for contraband.

My friends had beaten me there by a couple of hours, and their giddy smiles greeted us as soon as we got to the lockers.

Ruse accomplished, my friends and I split from my wife and child, as they headed to the toddler's pool, and we started what was an afternoon of riding down every slide they had. Now, if your goal is to hit every slide a water park has, you need to know going in that there are going to be ten times as many minutes waiting in line as there will be actually flying down any of those wet and wilds.

Here’s what I learned while waiting in line:

1. Grown-up chest hair frightens teenagers.

2. I have no pity for the child who, while openly weeping, walks slowly down from the top of the slide without having braved the water. You should see the looks on their parent’s faces. They’re concerned for the sad, hysterical child, but they also are well aware that they just stood for thirty minutes in line, only to walk slowly down those stairs again, without justifying said time. The good parent in them is winning, and they’ll even pick the tike up, but part of them feels like a failure. I immediately created a character that I constantly referenced for the rest of the day named “Timothy” whose parents always let him give up on things. Needless to say, “Timothy” did not fare well as the day unfolded.

3. A thirteen-year old girl will make out with her boyfriend, sometimes two of them, anywhere she damn well pleases. You have to admire the sheer boldness of tonguing in front of the same forty people for five flights of stairs.

4. My language gets worse the longer the line is. Okay, it starts off bad, but I lose my volume gauge at about fifteen minutes.

5. Nine-year old boys have no fear. A nine-year old boy would jump off the top of the stairs, let alone ride down a water slide from that same point. Also, they ditch in line like their freaking pirates.

6. My wife is short, about five feet tall, and from way up high she looks like a very sweet Cabbage Patch doll holding an even smaller Cabbage Patch doll that is currently wiggling out of her swim diaper to pee on her. This happened, and I could swear I saw it happen. It’s funny from any height.

7. There is no good way to hold a large flotation device next to another human being. I hit the same Slovenian gentlemen in the back of the head several times. Then, when he switched spots with his daughter, I turned around and almost swatted her over the railing.

8. The ego of my friends and myself seemed directly tied to how close we got to the top. It was as if we needed to do some push-ups in front of people to validate our worthiness of the challenge in front of us.

9. I can spot every person from Knox County at a water park. If you’re from Knox County, you can as well. Another note, the difference between someone from Mount Vernon and someone from Delaware is that the person from Mount Vernon came drunk, while the person from Delaware is getting drunk there.

10. The smile of someone who has had to pee for most of the line as they get to the top is creepy. It’s like they’re letting you know that they’re about to pee all over everything. They get to have fun doing it as well. Evil and righteous I suppose.

11. People eat in line. I didn’t know you could do that. Chicken wings at a water park? Bone fragments on the stairs? Yep. Ohio stays strong at all costs.

12. Grandmas are the best. I saw a dozen ladies with their grandchildren, willing to ride whatever. It was great to see them still dressed as Lauren Bacall, make up and all, willing to get their perms soaked for their favorite young person.

I say a water slide is for all ages. Now, waiting for a water slide is not for the faint of heart. Bring a portable DVD player and a copy of Three Ninjas or something. Or, go with some aging friends, and prepare for your jokes to be inappropriate and too loud.