When I was a kid–back in the Cretaceous Era, you know, before all these fancy phones and ipods and gaming tablets–we really knew how to have fun.
Sometimes we put on our swimsuits and swam in the ditch (which was a blast).
Sometimes we flew kites into power lines (happened all the time)
Sometimes we adopted animals that “followed” us home. Animals with various sundry diseases, fur melting off, their mouth foaming. They all needed love.
These beloved pets always ran off after being with our giant family for only a couple of hours. Too much love, I guess.
Let’s not forget “bizzing”!
“Bizzing” is a winter activity where you crouch down, hang on to the car’s bumper, and the car drags you along the ice-encrusted road. It was something my dad did as a kid, and he taught us.
We weren’t very good at hanging on, and we’d be sent spinning out into the snowbanks along the roadside. It was the best.
Side note: I was uploading this blog post at my parents’ house (because not only do I mooch their food, but I also mooch their internet) and my mom saw these bizzing pictures.
MOM: Bizzing? Glenn, you taught the kids how to bizz?
DAD: I, er. I don’t recall.
MOM: I can’t believe you would do anything so dangerous.
ME: Can I have seconds?
Anyway. All this was great fun. For scientific reasons of course. (I made a graph to prove it):
The higher chance that you might die or lose a limb, the more fun everything is bound to be. So things like climbing to the tops of trees, leaping from the roof of the house onto a trampoline, sliding down the stairs on a mattress…golden.
And then, there was the mother of all mothers of playtime precariousness.
Playgrounds were different when I was a kid. Playgrounds were cool. They were dangerous. They had sharp corners. They were SUPERSIZED.
They had blisterbars.
Ooo…the strato-slide. They don’t make slides this tall anymore!
That was back when playgrounds had asphalt instead of woodchips, of course.
And of course, the slides were made of metal! The local playground had a south-facing slide that could roast a pig. We all called it The Griddle.
It was the best.
There was also playground equipment that made no sense. I remember a weird funnel thing at the corner of the playground. No one knew what it was for. Maybe sandcastle-making? We’d pour sand in it and it would make a pile underneath. I’m sure it was for something else, but sure beats me.
It might be one of those playground toys that requires “imagination.” Who uses that??
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention tetherball. Us kids, we all knew what tetherball was for–you’d hit the ball and try to get it wrapped all the way around the pole.
And I’d pay you some big money if that’s how you actually thought we used it.
Of course, the rope could never support 40 lbs of Kid, and tether would always snap.
So now no one could play it.
So kids, when you see a lone pole with a broken rope attached, take it as a symbol of my generation’s selfish desire to steal an ounce of fun from you in exchange for a pound of pain tomorrow. Kinda like the national debt!
Oh. And the teeter-totter. Teeter-totters were (and are) my favorite playgound toy. You don’t see these anymore FOR GOOD REASON but it’s also a shame, because I learned more about physics from teeter-totters than I did in my entire college and high school career combined.
They were great when the person on the other end was your same weight.
But if there was an older sibling at the other end…
MAY THE ANGELS HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL
And then…the Mephistopheles of the Devil’s Playground.
This was a metal contraption that would spin round and round…
…which would cause you to slide to the edges…
…and be thrown off by the centrifugal force…
(Onto the asphalt, of course. Heh heh heh.)
This wasn’t the dangerous part, though. The dangerous part was when you tried to get back on.
So many concussions. So many.
Things have changed since then.
Kids nowadays, they don’t have a healthy fear of mortality like I did. They think they’ll live forever. And grown-ups are encouraging this! They’ve gotten rid of all that great old stuff like the blisterbars and the widowmaker! It’s really sad!!
My sister and I go running at 4 am, and we run past our childhood playground. Sometimes we even sneak into the playground.
(Which is totally against the law because the playground doesn’t open until eight.)
(Tee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee!)
They’ve changed out all the giant metal cement stuff and have replaced it with small plastic equipment, all with rounded corners.
Now where’s the fun in that?
They’ve added fancy electrical doohickies with lots of buttons and stuff.
I’m pretty sure no one breaks their bones on it. It’s tragic.
They have the same swings but they’re different than I remembered. They’re…smaller.
It feels like Thighmaster™ made them.
So even those aren’t much fun anymore.
When I leave the playground, I shed a small tear for the upcoming generation. Never will they know fear like I did. Never will they know true pain, or sorrow, or the sight of a bone sticking out of the skin, or the feeling of your brain bouncing against the skull…
But then I remember one thing that causes me to raise my head in hope:
We will always have trampolines.