816 North Diversions

Snarky in the Suburbs: The multi-story Verrückt plunge isn’t all that’s insane about this experience

Three  riders stood on the scale to get a total weight for their raft down Verrückt, the world’s tallest water slide, at the Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark in July.
Three riders stood on the scale to get a total weight for their raft down Verrückt, the world’s tallest water slide, at the Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark in July. The Kansas City Star

Yeah, I know summer is over and who cares about my latest water park adventure. But just wait. What I have to share is a cautionary tale.

Oh, sure loads has been written about the Schlitterbahn’s Verrückt. This is not about plunging down an incline greater than Niagara Falls.

This, my friends, is about humiliation.

I had managed, through careful planning, (which means showing up at Schlitterbahn just late enough that every “reservation” slot would be taken) to avoid the Verrückt all summer. But on Labor Day, my luck ran out. Extensive cloud cover, early morning thunderstorms, and I’m sure a general ennui of all things wet, meant the crowds at 10:05 a.m CST were sparse. Combine that with a moving sob story from my daughter about how her friends were afraid to “Verrückt” and I was trapped.

As I stood in line in my one-piece swimsuit with extra long swim skirt, because I’m a woman who believes our nation needs to re-embrace the beauty of full butt coverage, I noticed some equipment that looked out of place at a water park. It was a huge scale, like the kind you would use to weigh elephants at the zoo. What in the name of Verrückt was a calibration system of this magnitude doing at the entrance to a water attraction? And then, oh, Sweet God of Atlantis, I discovered the hidden horror of the slide: You have to be weighed before you’re allowed to go on the ride!

I have a strict don’t ask, don’t tell policy about my weight. When I go to the doctor’s office I never wear jeans, (denim is hefty fabric that can add at least three pounds). I always, take off my belt and shoes and have been known to slip the nurse a $20 to look the other way as I adjust the scale to read at least 10 pounds less. So, the very last thing, as you can imagine, I want to do at a water park is to be weighed. Am I not suffering enough? I’ve got most of my dimpled, doughy flesh exposed and I have some new spider veins that no matter what I tell myself do not look like hipster mom tattoos.

Before I even have to chance to make a run for it a lifeguard calls for my daughter and me to get on the scale. It’s nothing personal I’m told. Each three-person raft, due to mass x acceleration, must have a combined weight of at least 400 pounds. They need to weigh us to figure out how chunky our third raft mate needs to be.

Are you freaking kidding me? I have to step on a scale that I’m sure was purchased from a large animal vet clinic in front of hundreds of people and have my weight barked out like I’m some attraction at a low-rent carnival. This isn’t going to happen. I am so out of here. But my daughter gives me a look that says, “Please Mom,” and I cave because if my parenting style had a name, it would be called “The Caver.”

Off I march to the scale with my head held high and my stomach sucked in. I can do this. I get on first and then my daughter hops on, after which an employee screams out that we need a person weighing at least 150 pounds to join us on the scale. We get a volunteer. A youngish guy, who looks like he runs triathlons, sprints over and jumps on. We have hit the magic number and been cleared through stage one of Verrückt.

Thrilled that my weigh-in session is behind me I, after an intense safety briefing that required all of us vowing to uphold the laws of gravity and not to sue Schlitterbahn if said laws of gravity do not work in our favor, proceed to climb up 264 stairs. Where, surprise, surprise, we have to get back on a scale. Did they think ascending 17 stories might have made us drop a pound or two? The answer to that question was, “No ma’am. It’s another safety check.”

I groan and get on the scale. This one is smaller but still has a livestock vibe. After the weigh in we’re told that the heftiest person goes in the back of the raft. Mr. Triathlon assumes it’s going to be him. But a lifeguards points at me and hollers, “No, it’s not you. It’s her.” I have now hit the mortification trifecta.

Shamed, I enter the raft. My daughter asks me if I’m scared.

I tell her no. After this experience, a 60-mph, 168-foot plunge in a rubber raft is nothing.

Freelancer Sherry Kuehl writes Snarky in the Suburbs occasionally for 816 North. You can follow her on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and read her blog at snarkyinthesuburbs.com. She’s also written a book, “Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.”