You know the sign at the waterpark slide that says “Please Hold Onto Innertube At All Times”. They really do mean it.

So it can be said that on Friday June 13th, 2003 at or around 17:00, I saw God. Funny thing was that he bears a very striking resemblence to the one in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And he was chuckling at me saying “You are SUCH a frigging idiot”. But I digress.
A bit of background, I’ve been spending the last 24 hours at a place called the Great Bear Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s a nice hotel which is attached to a pretty decent indoor waterpark. It has your usual assortment of shooting water cannons, hot tubs, kiddie pools, and of course; waterslides. From the little kiddie ones to the big kahuna, “Yes you have to climb three stories of steps to get to the top”, watery chute of extreme discomfort.
So after I had left the sanity/safety of the adult hot tub looking for my children, my wife and daughter Hannah were oohing and aahing about going on the “Yellow” slide. Now, it’s been about twenty years since I had ignomiously walked down the steps of “Insert Generic 80’s Superslide Park Name Here” (thanks Dad for telling the kids about THAT one!) so facing my fears one more time I grabbed a blue tube and started the trek upward.
Actually, at this point I had not really thought out the whole “OK, move mass “m” up height “h” multiplied by gravity “g” should come up with a rather large splut at the end. But no, I’m thinking about my little girl toting up the stairs all proud that her daddy is walking up behind her about to take the first trek and she’ll be able to witness it.
Well, maybe witnessing it wasn’t such a good idea. I’ll let you decide the number of years of therapy she’ll need at the end of this tale.
So we get to the top (WAY too quickly if you ask me. Probably the grim reaper was doing good business today of pushing sliders/corpses towards their doom), and DeAnn and Hannah jump on the blue slide (the one that was fully enclosed instead of the open top, enjoy the lovely view as you plummet) yellow one. The two of them hop on and I wish them farewell and good tidings unto the other side. And off in a blue whoosh of plastic faster than my wife at a Wal-Mart, they were gone.
I lumber up to the hostess (insert perky blonde name here) who informs me to just go when they clear the first turn. Now wait a minute, Saddam Hussein would love this efficiency. “Please Mr. Soon To Be Executed, just walk in after those people turn the corner. Ignore the screams, it’s just a Yoko Ono therapy class”. I plop my tube down, jump on, and (thankfully) didn’t go anywhere. Nope, your royal plumpness here was stuck. At this point maybe I should have have listened to the part of my brain which was screaming “Gee, while you’re at it, see if you can pick up some Lawn Darts or at least an old Ford Pinto to go with you”. But I didn’t really have time to think because here comes (insert perky blonde name here) who starts kicking the tube forward.
SHE’S FRIGGING KICKING THE TUBE! In some countries, I could shoot her but here in America I’d probably have a week of paperwork to fill out. So while I’m thinking about that a week of paperwork isn’t really a bad thing, the current catches me and off into oblivion I go. The tube accelerates to somewhere around Mach 47 and off I go into the first turn (thinking about the next person behind me who (insert perky blonde name here) is telling him it’s safe to go now that I’ve been gone all of 0.05 seconds now). Thanks (insert perky blonde name here), when was your last physics class…
Now, my wife and daughter told me about the curves but they neglected to tell me about the “bump”. Yes, the bump, the small drop where somehow you are supposed to hold onto your tube AND your internal organs at the same time. The bump that decided that Mr. Issac Newton didn’t have enough to laugh about in life and needed to make up for it with my body. The bump where the tube went “I’ve had enough of this crap. I’ll just be back here if you need me” and thrust me forward into the ether.
For those of you who have been on a waterslide before, you know once that your are in the tube, forever will it dominate your destiny. Or at least the next fifteen seconds of your life. With you kicking and screaming. So genius me decides to grab for the tube. Yeah, that was funny. Oops, someone forgot to tell me about turn two which splats my face against the tube wall and starts spinning me around at something around 3000 rpm. Oops, bump two which throws me in the air and at this point (I think) I see that damn Terry Gilliam animation laughing at me. Thanks Terry.
Three or four more turns later which let me enjoy the full effect of watching my feet go spinning around as a blur, then watch my entire body go flying in the air (not an easy event), I get to the final straightaway and see DeAnn and Hannah and think “OK, it’s over”.
Boy am I an idiot. Duh, you’ve built up all this kinetic energy, you’ve got to slow down somehow. That’s what the pool of water is used for at the bottom. In the normal tube/life-process, it’s a gentle slowdown where you dispense energy across the top of the water and the lifeguard takes your order and pushes you over to the stream to get a Mai Tai. Maybe he’ll take my order. Oh shoot, that’s right, the tube is up there laughing at me. I’ll go get it and….
Now, when I was growing up, I heard guys refer to a certain body part as a “flesh torpedo”. I don’t think they were taking the WHOLE body into the equation. Especially one large one like me which seems like it has spent the last twenty or thirty minutes building up speed. No, in this case you are shot into the pool underwater (oops, did I leave out the point of when I last breathed, somewhere around Texas it seemed like) and drive into the pool to decelerate at somewhere around NASA centrifuge training limits.
I think at this point my shirt started going over my head (NICE PARACHUTE!) and I finally poke my head out of the water looking at my wife who’s probably wondering if my life insurance is paid and my daughter who is preparing the adoption annulment paperwork as I speak. No, I stand (yeah right, if I can just find my feet, I can stand!) and get asked the brillaint question “Are you OK?”. Oh yes really, that little girl screaming you just heard was just an acoustic test to determine the resonance frequency of the tube. It wasn’t some thirty plus year old dad screeching about his impending Darwin Award. No, go about your business, I’ll just collect my limbs which I lost around turn 618.
So while the entire park is probably looking in my direction and some guy who was trying to be nice (while kicking himself for not having a video camera handy so he could have won the $10,000 award on America’s Stupidest Dads on Video) helps me get my bearings (you’re in Ohio, it’s the heavyweight championship…oops wrong hallucination) and I think at this point the neurons in my head stop firing like cannons. Just to the point so I could say “bump, tube go bye-bye, head smash, death, Terry Gilliam cartoons”. By this point my daughter has the tube and is running up the stairs again, my wife is going after her (no not to stop her, she’s got the COOL innertube) and I’m off stumbling into oblivion.
What’s the moral of this story? Act your age, realize your limits, plan to win? No, in this case it has to be “Ignore the kids, crack out the AmEx gold card and just pay the bill for what they grab at the gift shop at the end of the month”. Much less painful and no cartoons laughing at you each time you go.