Joco Diversions

At water parks, inhibitions go slip-sliding away

Call me crazy, but I love water parks. Yes, I know they can be hygienically challenged, especially any area of the park that features a wading or toddler pool. But, not even the very real fact that I’m basically swimming in a Crock-Pot broth of chlorine, urine and water can dampen my enthusiasm.

I have no idea why I’m such a water park junkie. When I was growing up, there really weren’t water parks. You were living large if you had an above the ground pool.

There’s a current Pinterest craze that features taking stock tanks and turning them into cutesy pools. Please, that was my Texas childhood, and those galvanized steel stock tanks get hot as the devil’s horns once July hits. You’re no longer swimming. You’re hot tubbing. Perhaps my “homemade pool” childhood is why I’m such a water park aficionado.

My first experience didn’t happen until I was a young adult and I was hooked. Apparently, I have a real affection for experiencing multiple swimsuit malfunctions and witnessing a woman cutting her toenails while floating on a raft.

As a much older adult you would think I would be less enamored of water parks, but no, I like them even more. There’s just something about the smell of sunscreen and funnel cakes that says good times to me. Plus, the people are fascinating.

I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations of my life while waiting in line for a water park attraction. Maybe it’s because everyone is almost naked. Our physical imperfections are free ranging, making us vulnerable, thus more inclined to over share. Or maybe it’s the bonding ritual of everyone getting off the slides and yanking their swimsuits out of their backside that creates a feeling of unity.

Whatever it is. It’s powerful.

Last year, as I was standing in line for ride that can best be described as plunging into a swirling toilet bowl the size of which would be appropriate for King Kong if he were potty trained, I had a riveting discussion with three other women, total strangers, about alternate universes.

Were we living in a present reality or was this reality just a dream? The conversation was so deep and weird that being flushed into a giant toilet bowl felt anticlimactic.

You’re not going to get that level introspection with strangers anywhere else. I’m telling you it has to be the fact that we were all birthday suit adjacent.

Another thing I adore about water parks is that, for the most part, it’s a no-judgment zone. There are so many different body types, tattoos, cellulite, spider and varicose veins that might look like tattoos (or is that just me doing some wishful thinking) and moles (that may need to be checked by a dermatologist) that it would be a huge time suck to critique or throw shade at anyone. It’s just too much of a visual cornucopia.

When I’m at a regular pool I’m all about the maxi length sarong. When I’m at the water park it’s; “I’m here. I don’t look good in a swimsuit. You don’t look good in a swimsuit. Pretty much no one here looks good in swimsuit. Let’s high five that, grab a raft and move on.”

Hmm, perhaps the freedom to let my thighs rub together without shame maybe the real reason I keep going back. Pass the sunscreen and where’s the funnel cake?

Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.

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