Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Backwards Watersliding Full Flip Head Dive

So it's March, and it might snow again tomorrow through Monday.

I think I speak for most of us when I say, aww, horse poop!

So, how about a taste of summer?  Today's True Tale of Everyday Crazy takes place on a warm summer day, in a kingdom not too far, far away, as we all remember glimpses of sunshine and humidity, and the heavy salt air of the ocean under the blazing heat of a cloudless sky.

The perfect setting for the Backwards Watersliding Full Flip Head Dive.

The Backwards Watersliding Full Flip Head Dive

            There is a small water park in Fenwick Island, Delaware, that my mother and I frequent with my daughter in the summertime.  It is a fun way to spend the day—lounging by the kiddie slides that will entertain a young child for hours, floating down the lazy river, and, assuming you are a little more adventurous, flying down the two curvy water slides that are the main attractions of the park.

            It used to be that you could select either a foam white mat or a round, yellow air-filled tube to slide on.  In recent years, the policy has been changed.  Now, adults may only slide on the mat, not the tube, and a giant red and white sign proclaims this at the area where you choose your riding device.  I feel that, most likely, I am single handedly responsible for this change.

            It was several years ago, on a perfect, cloudless, sunshiny day, and the three of us had enjoyed a long day of soaking up the rays, drifting down the lazy river, and, for Kaliah and I, riding the slides.  We’d been riding double, because she was only about three or four at the time.  It had been great fun, but, for some reason, I had it in my head that going down solo would be much more exhilarating.

            I was right.  Possibly, a little too right.

            Mom and Kaliah stood near the bottom of the slide, where the riders came bursting out of the chutes and flung into a shallow pool.  I bravely selected a yellow tube to slide down on, climbing the many wooden stairs leading to the top of the slide as quickly as I was able, the air-filled tube lightly tapping against my legs as I made my way to the very top.  Though it was nice out, it was later in the day, and much of the crowd had already left.  I didn’t have to wait very long before the life guard at the top blew the whistle.  I planted my butt firmly in the middle of the doughnut hole and launched myself down the slide.

            What I noticed immediately was that sliding solo was not only much quicker than riding double, there was far less control involved.  Almost instantly, as the tube slipped and slid around corners, the raft began spinning in wild circles.  Though there was no time to really think about it, I automatically began craning my neck to see behind me as I was careening down the slide backwards, and more importantly, I began trying to shift my body weight around in order to maneuver myself back into a forward facing position.

            It was to no avail.

            Though the entire experience couldn’t have lasted more than six seconds, it was a very panicked six seconds, as I twisted my shoulders, dangled my legs, clutched the tube’s handles, and shimmied and shook in every way possible to try to avoid hitting the water backwards (my mother, who, on principle, refused to ride anything more exciting than a merry-go-round, had apparently passed on her irrational fear of riding a waterslide down to me, citing the reason that “she might hit her head on the bottom”).

            Perhaps it wasn’t so irrational after all.

            On about the seventh second, I had managed to reposition myself into a near sideways position, just before the ride ended and the tube hit the water.  I gave one more desperate twist of my weight, trying madly to avoid going in backwards.  I remembered catching sight of my mother, holding my daughter, and watching their eyebrows raise and eyes widen like cartoon characters.  And that was the last image I had before tightly squeezing my eyes shut, as, in spite of my best efforts, the slide spit me out backwards at break-neck speed.

            I’m sure it was quite a spectacle, mainly because my mother confirmed that, yes, indeed, it was.

            As I’d been trying to flip myself frontwards, my legs were sprawled out widely, spread eagle style, and the moment the tube hit the pool, I was catapulted over into a backwards, air-born somersault, flipping over completely (legs still spread wide open as in a cheerleader’s toe touch position, FYI), holding onto the tube handles for dear life, feeling them ripped away as my head made contact with the water and the tube shot out of my hands and sailed through the air.  The pool waves rushed over me as I rocketed head-first to the very bottom, banging the side of my noggin on the concrete floor of the pool, gurgling and gasping and even giggling underwater at the sheer stupidity of the situation as I was bounced back upwards, mass of wet, clumped hair clinging to my face as I sputtered to the surface, welcomed by Kaliah’s “Wow!” and the guffawing laughter of, out of all people, the lifeguard.

            “Mommy did a flip!” Kaliah cried in wonderment.

            “She sure did,” my mother managed to agree, as she was also suffering from a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

            “I hit my head on the bottom,” I choked out, laughing and stupefied.

            “Do it again!” Kaliah urged.

            But alas, that was quite enough sliding for me for that day.  Also, there is absolutely a zero percent chance that I would ever be able to duplicate that accidental feat.

            If someone had been recording that on their phone or camera, maybe I could have won America’s Funniest Home Videos, or, at the very least, went viral on YouTube.

            Or maybe I should just be thankful that my bikini top remained in its correct position, and I suffered no known brain damage, all while managing to give the lifeguard, whom I figured would have seen it all, a story to tell at happy hour that evening.

            You only live once, after all, and if you, my friend, have never attempted a Backwards Watersliding Full Flip Head Dive…

            Well, then, sir or madam, you might not be fully living.

Mom and I at the scene of the accident.

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