The Table Slide

My Granny was a great inventor of games.  When I was a little girl, she kept me and several of my cousins while our parents worked.  Mostly, it was me and my little brother, Sammy, and our cousins Wally and Sherry.  Wally was closer to my age, maybe around eight years old, and my brother Sammy and Sherry were about five years younger than us.

One summer day, Wally and I had gotten very bored.  Granny had no doubt gotten tired of hearing us say that, and like most kids of that generation, we weren’t allowed to stay in the house unless it was raining.  We had seen while riding in the rich peoples’ neighborhoods that they had swimming pools with fancy slides.  Granny decided we could have just as much fun as those rich kids.  She had already gone to the Big K and got us a plastic swimming pool.  It was about a foot deep, but it was just enough water for us to keep cool.

On that particular day, she remembered that PawPaw had an old enamel table top down in the shed.  She told us to go get it.  Wally and I walked down to the shed excitedly, not sure exactly what Granny had in mind.  We stopped in our tracks when we got there because we remembered PawPaw had said there were snakes in there.  We decided it was worth the risk and quickly scavenged through the old tires and tools and wheelbarrows and other assorted parts of things, until we found said table top.  It was so heavy, but we drug it up through the grass and the gravel driveway to the front yard where Granny was sitting in a metal lawn chair by our little pool.

She got up out of the chair and pulled it over by the pool and turned it around backwards.  She took the table top and propped one end up on the chair and placed the other end in the pool, submersed in the water.  She told Wally to go get the hose and turn it on.  He did as he was told, for once, and she laid the hose over the top of the propped-up table top.

“There…y’all have a slide.  Who wants to go first?”  “Me, me, me,” said Wally.  And thus began the most fun we’d had all summer.  Never mind that as soon as we got to the bottom of the table “slide” we were expelled over the side of the pool and onto the grass.  Never mind that we probably ran up Granny’s water bill exponentially.  We were having the time of our lives.

The Slingshot

My teenage daughter was a daredevil.  Amanda wasn’t afraid of anything at all. She’d traveled all over the United States with her friends.  She had snow skied the highest mountains.  She had ridden the most thrilling rides at all of the amusement parks.  And now she was asking me to get on this slingshot thingy with her.  

We were at the beach for vacation.  My boyfriend of many years was along with us, as well as my son.  The guys were on her side.  “Go ahead, do it with her.  It will be fun.”  I refused to get on that thing.  I knew surely I would die along with my daughter, leaving my son with no mother and no sister.

Then I had an idea.  I knew it must be expensive.  I asked the operator how much.  He told me a figure and although it wasn’t too bad, I over-dramatized, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have that much money to waste on this. We need to eat and have gas money to get home.”  I was a single mother and it made sense to me.

But then the boyfriend stepped in.  He had become buddies with the ride operator during my pondering of excuses, and suddenly he said, “Why don’t you let them ride for free.”  Oh no, he didn’t!  Please tell me he didn’t just ask that. I was mortified.  Not only had he killed my plan, but he had embarrassed me.  He was the type who wasn’t afraid of asking such questions. 

To which the ride operator answered, “Sure, why not?  I’ll just let them do it for free.”

So Amanda and I walked over and sat in the seat.  The ride operator came over to fasten the safety harness.  “WAIT!!!!”  I shouted.  I sprang up from the seat and out of the contraption.  “I can’t do this.”

I looked back at Amanda in the seat and she was pouting.  “Please, mom!”  She wanted to do this so badly and she wanted me to experience it with her.  “Someday,” I’m thinking…”someday you will realize what it is to be a mother and you won’t want to do these kinds of things. And I hope your daughter begs you to do it, too.”

I sat back down in the contraption and the ride operator strapped us in.  He pulled the chain fence up in front of my boyfriend and my son.  I just knew this would be the last time I’d see them.  The ride operator went back to his station and turned the ride on.  First, steel arms began to stretch the elastic bands upwards as  cables held our seat firmly in place.  Up, up, up, the bands stretched like rubber bands on a slingshot.  Then it happened.  The seat released and we were pummeled several hundred feet into the air, tumbling around and around.  Noises came from my mouth that I didn’t recognize.  My daughter was screaming a blood-curdling scream.  I knew we were just going to spring right up to Heaven, never to be seen again on Earth.

But after a few too many bounces, the seat began to stabilize.  The seat then started lowering to the ground.  I looked at Amanda and she looked at me.  “Oh mom, that was so much fun!  Aren’t you glad you did it?”  And seeing the look on her face, I was.