Not your average Slip 'n Slide, mind you. The Double Auto Racer version with side-by-side slides. Yes, that means no waiting for the two Things. Unless, of course, their Dad has decided to go smack down the center, more out of need for his ever-expanding waistline as opposed to his sheer lust for all 148 syringe-like jets of garden hose love to caress his flabby self in the heat of the afternoon.
But I'm jumping the gun. First, the SnS needed to be properly installed. This required reading the instructions. Instructions that start with warnings printed in letters the size of the Costco Super Klutzy family-size of pack of adhesive bandages.
Warnings printed in the color of the blood that could be spurting out of your child's headless neck if you fail to heed them.
Warnings that all begin with words like NEVER, AVOID and AMPUTATION.
Warnings the genius folks at Wham-O are so serious about that they print them on all six sides of the box, on both sides of the instruction sheet, on a separate warning insert card, and on both sides and ends of the product.
Do people receive this kind of heads-up before they buy firearms? Vote Republican? Download Ashlee Simpson songs? I think not. This is just a flippin' sheet of plastic with holes punched in it, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission!
After putting the local ambulance service, National Guard unit and funeral home on speed dial, I wrenched the faucet open. The cool promise of summer refreshment spurted forth … and it was good.
At least, that what I keep telling the Things as they stood there silently watching little fountains of municipal hydration water the weeds where Kentucky Blue should have been.
"What the hey, spawn. You two nagged and guilted me into buying this while we were stuck in the checkout line. Start slippin' and a-slidin'."
"What do we do?" asked Thing 2.
"Take a couple of running steps, dive and slide. Whoo-hoo."
The Things looks at each other. You'd think I had just told them to perfect cold-water fusion. Or eat cauliflower.
Thing 1 ventured forth and offered a toe. "It's cold!" she declared.
"It's hot outside, hence you counteract the heat with cold. Slide 'n' Slide and have fun now, or I start singing 'Fat Bottomed Girls' in an extremely high register."
Thing 1 took a few tentative steps back. She ran like the girl she is, which means on her tiptoes with arms flopping every which way, and fell forward. She skidded about two feet.
"Lift your arms. You're stopping yourself with your hands."
She tried again. This time she went three feet.
Next came Thing 2. I held high hopes for him, not because he is my boy, but because he has seen enough Discovery Channel specials and animated films about penguins that he must have learned something.
"Come on, boy. Flop on down there! Surf's up, Happy Feet!"
He backed up about 35 feet. He jumped out of the blocks like the albino, suburban love child of Usain Bolt and Tirunesh Dibaba. He reached the bright yellow sheet of glistening, watery frivolity, leaped and landed smack on his scabby knees. And then his face.
"Crap in a wrap! Wait here," I said, uttering the most devastating threat I could think of. "I'm getting my suit on."
I returned, ready for action. Unfortunately, it took my more than a few minutes to find where the cleaning people had hidden my suit, and in my absence, our backyard had turned into the 2008 version of the muddy flats of Yasgur's Farm. Minus the free love, brown acid and Country Joe and the Fish, of course.
"Watch me. Slide on your belly and lower chest. Lift your head and arms up," I said. "And scream. I don't care if it's from the cold water, the pain of your body hitting a stray acorn or from actually having fun. Scream 'til it hurts. It'll help."
I took two deliberate steps back from the edge of the slide. I bent my knees and leaned forward. I started ahead. Then I remembered.
I hadn't done this in about 25 years. And 30 pounds.