Thrill Ride in the Canadian Desert
When asked whether children recognize him from his role as Flik in A Bug’s Life, Canadian comedian Dave Foley said something along the lines of, “No. Children are surprisingly stupid.” This quote ran through my head as I yelled at an oblivious ten year-old girl, who quite possibly was about to get her teeth knocked out by my wife’s foot.
This scene occurred in the southern Okanagan Valley, billed as Canada’s only desert. This vestigial toe of the Sonora looked like a fraud because of its abundance of water, but a number of sources confirm that it is an actual desert. The valley is full of vineyards and a large lake and during our visit it was humid and rainy. Nonetheless, amidst the greenery and tourist signs adorned with drawings of cacti, we did see the stray dry-ish patch, here and there.
We chose a hotel on the lake that boasted a 250-foot waterslide. It was an impressive looking corkscrew slide with a warning that read, “Caution! This ride can cause serious injury. Riders must obey all posted rules. THIS IS A THRILL RIDE.” Only one of the thirteen children in the pool was following more than half of the posted rules, which made my inner lifeguard antsy. I was very disappointed that their parents didn’t enforce the rules, in spite of occasional collisions, so I will take this opportunity to list and analyze the eight posted rules, in the hope that I can alter future waterslide behavior.
Water Slide Rules and Analysis
I was concerned about what would happen when I rode the THRILL RIDE. My body is massive; my cobra shoulders, corded thighs and tree-trunk calves could do serious damage in a watery crash. My concern also arose because—as my wife is quick to point out—when it comes to thrill rides, I am a “lame ass scaredy-cat dork.”
When my wife and I climbed the stairs to the top, I felt the other adults eye us suspiciously. We’d seen one other adult briefly ride the slide—a large tattooed man, who was clearly a former hockey player—but there seemed to be a tacit agreement that the slide was for children and if there was colliding to be done, it should occur between bodies below 60 pounds—27 kilos, if you will. I imagined myself barreling into the former hockey player’s daughter, prompting him to pummel me in a very Canadian way. The massive body, cobra shoulders, et. al. are not accustomed to this.
Accordingly, I had my wife make sure that there were no children near the bottom of the ride. I instructed her to exceed the two-meter radius—suggested in my comments to Rule #3—in order to make certain that I wouldn’t endanger any children. Assured that all was safe, I entered the slide.
The slide was dark and twisting. It took a half-dozen seconds to pass through the 250’ corkscrew before I catapulted out the bottom. During those six seconds, I envisioned children making last-second mad dashes into the mouth of the slide and worried that maybe Lynn hadn’t noticed that the pudgy teenager had decided to climb into the chute and up the slide. For me, this was a THRILL RIDE. I’m a little chagrined to say, though, that I broke my momentum with my elbows, causing me to make a pathetic, slow-motion plop when I exited the slide.
Lynn’s turn was next: she wanted to go FAST! After she dutifully waited for me to clear the two-meter radius, she “whooped” through the corkscrews and shot out of the slide, knifing through the water to the far wall. After our first rides, the children seemed to become more squirrelly, perhaps because we’d infringed on their turf, so I declined a second run. Lynn was game for more, so I decided to police the pool for her next trip down.
In line before her was a pale, milquetoast girl, about six or seven years old. She was a chronic rule-bender, who was oblivious to both the letter and spirit of the posted rules. She may have been the daughter of the ex-hockey player, but if so, she likely was not his favorite daughter. Anyway, after exiting the slide, this young lady feigned movement to the side of the pool. Seeing the area clear, Lynn decided to go. After she disappeared down the gut of the slide, the girl meandered back to the chute and stared into the shadows.
“Excuse me. Move please,” I yelled, waiving my well-apportioned arms at her. This was wholly ineffective, so I countered with, “Get out of the way. Watch out.” Her eyes were dull, devoid of any acknowledgement of my cries or the poor decision-making skills that had led her to stick her head directly under the chute. There was no flicker of recognition in her eyes when she abruptly decided to move, just as Lynn shot out like a torpedo. I know because I looked carefully. In fact, she didn’t seem to notice at all that Lynn had almost knocked her silly. She had the case history of a Rule #7 re-offender.
By the way, if you stay at a hotel with a water slide, get up early or ride the slide during lunch or dinner hours. Make the most of your one advantage over the children: you don’t have to get out when your mother says so.
Copyright Jeff Lewis, 2004