Friday, November 21, 2008

This Wet Banana is not a euphemism, so knock it off

On a day like today, when it's cold enough that my laundry froze solid before I was even done hanging it to dry on the railing outside, it becomes difficult to remember the steamy days of summer, even though they are less than two months behind us. Although the temperature outside has just now climbed above freezing, barely, and the temp inside this unheated (by choice) apartment hasn't hit 60 in days, it makes me feel just the slightest bit warmer to think of hotter, happier times as a kid, running barefoot in the spotty grass of the front yard, gaining speed, my mind singularly focused on executing the perfect flying headfirst dive down that long piece of yellow plastic unfurled down the gentle slope. The Wet Banana.

Oh? You say you had a Slip 'n Slide? Loser. Wet Banana was exactly like the Slip 'n Slide except the sprinkler that you hooked the hose to to keep the whole thing lubricated was a plastic banana with holes in it. I don't recall a single banana-shaped feature of the S 'n S. And completely awesome as the wet banana feature of the Wet Banana was, it never did manage to keep the whole thing wet. There were always those dry spots that would grab you as you slid by, simultaneously giving you a good friction burn and sending you into an uncontrollable tumble. And if the dry spot didn't get you, that stick or rock underneath that you missed when preparing the yard for Wet Banana time would.

But nobody cared. Danger came with the territory. If you want the freedom of flying, you have to be prepared to crash from time to time, and the Wet Banana let us fly.

Of course, after a few runs and some head to toe scratches accrued from either that offending stick poking through or the inevitable overshoot off the end of the runway, it got old and we just ended up chasing each other around with the hose. Ahh, summertime and short attention spans.

The last time I had a Wet Banana-like experience was in college (That's what she said; now get your mind out of the gutter!) I was visiting a friend at UGA who's frat was having a beach-themed party, complete with Jimmy Buffet cover band. This was a novelty for me because I attended a quiet, frat-free college. A long roll of plastic had been laid out, hosed down and covered in dish soap. For hours nobody went near it until, sometime after midnight and many beers, my friend and I did the honors, paving the way for the more reluctant. Details are hazy, but it seems reasonable in retrospect that something like that be done in underwear. I can't say for sure.

Just as when I was a kid, though, after two or three runs and some scrapes and bruises, the novelty wore off, and we went off in search of a towel and some dry clothes. And probably another beer.

Today I think back to those carefree times in warmer climes and wonder: Do kids still roll out sheets of plastic in the yard and hurl themselves recklessly down them in the name of keeping cool and having fun? Are the suburbs still striped with those tell-tale swaths of dead or dying grass where the Wet Banana/Slip 'n Slide was left for too long? Do children today proudly bear those body-length scratches like a badge of summertime honor?

I guess I'll have to wait another six months to find out.

(And I don't want to hear any holier-than-thou comments about Crocodile Mile. That was for rich kids.)


Chris said...

Well, I know college kids still do it.

I don't know about actual kids. There's probably a video game where you can build an avatar and then make it slide around on wet plastic. I'd guess that's how kids these days keep cool in the summer.

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

Now my family wasn't poor growing up, but my parent's wanted us to learn to do without and appreciate the toys that came with nature more than the kind that came with sugary cereal. We had no slip n slip. Instead we had garbage bags. Talk about a too short runway. Homemade slip n slides sucked so bad.

Courtney said...

But this post is a lot funnier if you read Wet Banana with dirty connotations. Preparing the yard for Wet Banana time? That's just too funny.

My parents never let me have any sort of plastic thing on which to slide headfirst. They said it would tear up the grass. So I went to my neighbor's house to play, knocked the wind out of myself on the first try, and went home crying.

Aaron said...

Yeah, well, I didn't even have a Slip n' Slide, sir. I didn't even have a proper yard, you effete elitist.

Rachel said...

"Could that be Mom on Wet Banana? It is!"

And that, kids, is how you were made!

Jacob said...

We had the regular old Slip 'n' Slide but we didn't have those fancy smooth, well-manicured lawns you guys had in suburbia, so we didn't use it often. Instead we took these smooth foam rubber floats that were big enough to lie on, put them at the end of the pier in our pond, dumped water on them and slid on them into the water. That was fun until I broke my pinkie finger by getting in caught in one of the holes at the end of the float on my way down. I went down into the water and the pinkie stayed back on the pier.

Stefanie said...

I think we had a Slip n' Slide, not a Wet Banana, but I can't recall for sure. I doubt most parents today would allow either anymore, though. We had to be tougher back then... We had tall, metal playground equipment on asphalt. Kids today have rubberized, smaller-scale things built over sand. Wusses. They couldn't handle the Wet Banana these days.

Julie said...

It's true. I doubt very much that parents today would allow the dangers. Chris... Meaghan... care to to prove me wrong?

Noelle said...

I remember the time on the slip n' slide when I became just a little too old/heavy to enjoy the feeling of hurtling myself towards the ground. It was a sad day, indeed, but my parents were quite happy to let the lawn grow back.

Chris said...

I would have no problem with my kid playing on a slip n slide. However, I would not set one up in my yard because the neighborhood kids would instantly flock to it like it was a free water park.

Allie said...

I never had a Slip n Slide or a Wet Banana. One time, my cousin and I emptied the contents of our huge bubble wand solution bucket on my grandfather's lawn and slid down it. We left two butt prints in the grass, and were never fully forgiven.

The Modern Gal said...

I think you should do an entire NaBloPoMo with a banana theme.

I had a slip-n-slide birthday party when I turned five or six. My friends recreated the experience for my 21st birthday a few years back, although it was a homemade slide, created from a very long tarp and garden hose. Best birthday ever.