Slip ‘N’ Slide

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Some things from our life growing up on Flamingo are just as much fun now as they were back then. Take, for instance, the summertime fun of a makeshift Slip ‘N’ Slide. Just combine water, a long sheet of plastic, and a bunch of kids, and you’ll have hours of giggling, wet fun. And it’s simply one of the best forms of entertainment ever invented for a hot Saturday afternoon.

But even as much fun as ours was fifty-five years ago, there’s a new wet, plastic slide with some much needed improvements that delivers so much fun it can hardly be contained in the huge box it comes in. Let’s take a look at the one our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, enjoyed just last weekend versus what all us kids on Flamingo Street grew up using.

With three clicks of a mouse, our granddaughters’ birthday present was on its way, arriving at our door the very next day. Inside the red, white, and blue box was a 25-foot sheet of plastic, stake down pins, two blow-up sleds to “cushion the fall,” and easy to read and understand assembly instructions. Not so with the wet plastic slide from my past.

Back on Flamingo, the delivery of our plastic slide didn’t take one day; it took thirty days. That’s how long my three brothers and I had to beg to convince our parents that we wouldn’t get hurt sliding on a Slip ‘N’ Slide. Guess we’ll never know because my Dad never bought us one.

Instead, he thought it would be a better (and cheaper) idea just to make one out of a roll of sheet plastic. Our slide came with no stake down pins to hold in it in place, no blow-up sleds to “cushion the fall,” and no assembly instructions.

Already in their swimsuits and bathed in sunblock 1000, Little One and Sweet Caroline followed the giant box containing our new slide, carried by Yours Truly, out to the front lawn. The instructions directed me to “find a level area” to set the slide up on, so I did.

After unfurling the roll, I used an electric pump to inflate the 8-inch pontoons running down either side that would insure no one would slide off and get a grass burn. Ten stakes anchored the slide firmly to the ground. But the best improvement was the built-in sprinkler system! Connect a water hose and the entire 6-foot-wide, 25-foot-long slide was instantly wet and super slippery. None of the above was true for the slide we used back on Flamingo.

The strip of plastic Dad had just rolled down the steep hill in our back yard was only 3 feet wide and 20 feet long, and no, he didn’t stake it down. The only sprinkler system we had to keep water on the slide was one of us using a hose.

That Saturday we learned a lot. First, the more water meant you could go faster, and less water meant you didn’t. Second, a 20-foot slide is not nearly long enough. Third, a strip of plastic not staked down will slide all over the yard. Which leads me to the most important lesson we learned that first day. Even though it’s wet, grass will still burn you as you skim superfast off the makeshift Slip ‘N’ Slide while covered head to toe in shampoo.

After four hours of wet fun, here are the things we learned last Saturday. First, our new slide being 25 feet long is perfect for normal kids, but not our super sliders. You need at least two. Luckily for us, you can connect them end to end so Big Papa ordered another one for next weekend.

Second, the built-in sprinkler system works perfectly to keep the entire slide wet and super slick. Third, the two blow-up sleds really do “cushion the fall” and will last for many summers of fun … unless Big Papa tries using one for old time’s sake. (No worries, a replacement sled is coming next week.)

And finally, the 8-inch pontoons really do keep kids from going over the edge and getting those nasty grass burns. But they don’t keep a Big Papa covered in shampoo on the course. And yes, a grass burn today feels just as bad as a grass burn from 55 years ago.

But I didn’t care. Like our makeshift waterslide from Flamingo, our new WOW Super Slide will provide hours of wet summertime fun … and memories that’ll last a lifetime.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]