November 21, 2002

Safety First I am by

Safety First

I am by no means complaining here, but it sure seems as though kids today have things a lot safer than when I was their age. When I was twelve, there were skateboards, and there are still skateboards today, but today the riders are more heavily armored than most Abrams tanks.

When I hopped on a skateboard in my youth, I only had my skin and perhaps a tee-shirt to cushion any potential falls. Wearing a helmet or shin pads or elbow pads was a sure indicator that you were at best a wussy and at worst a momma's boy geek nerd. So, I would hop aboard, roll down a large hill, attain speeds that would rip the wings of a stealth bomber, hit a pebble, and do my very best to keep my head from smacking the concrete, dashing what little brains I had onto the street. Then I would run home, pour hydrogen peroxide on all my fresh wounds, and go bolting out the door for another trek down the hill.

And that's another thing. We just had hills. Oh, sure, if we were lucky we had a couple of cinder blocks and a warped piece of plywood to create a makeshift ramp that would cause Evil Knievel to cringe in horror. But kids today have entire skate parks to play in. I mean, come on! Skate parks? Why, back in my day, all those 15 years ago or so, the concept of such a niche park built for kids was unheard of.

In fact, parks of yore in general weren't particularly safe for kids. Nowadays, elaborate jungle gyms are so well protected with padding and fences, they could be used to house the mentally insane. But back when I was crawling around park equipment, such safety measure were not enforced.

Indeed, you had to absord a certain amount of schoolyard wisdom to know where on the merry-go-round a jagged piece of metal jutted forth, causing nasty rips in both clothes and skin. It was just generally understood that you didn't ride or approach the merry-go-round at that dangerous spot. Nothing was every done about the metal. No janitor ever came by to hammer it away. That would be too sensible.

It was just there, an angry rusted metal tooth just waiting for an unwary child to wander within range. Of course, it's not dangerous enough as it is. No. You have to get the merry-go-round spinning, so now you have what amounts to a kid-sized rotary saw. The rest of us would just watch, unable, or unwilling, to say anything. It was a rite of passage to be bitten by that particular spot on the merry-go-round. It was just a matter of where and when you were bitten. The deeper the gouge, and the more exotic the locale, the more playground respect was bestowed upon you.

And slides! Was there ever a more notorious playground invention than the slide? Here's an idea, let's take a child, perhaps seven or eight, and tell him or her to climb a ladder to, well, nowhere. You just climb, and when you get to the top, at a height so daunting for a youngster you think you can actually touch the face of the sun, you're given two choices. You can either wuss out and climb back down, which isn't really an option because you have extreme playground standing due to the massive merry-go-round gash you suffered only inches from your groin. As far as the the other kids are concerned, you're practically a god. You can't back down the slide ladder. Gods simply don't do that.

So, you opt to sit down and propel yourself down the slide, on a gleaming metal surface so hot it was actually used by cafeteria staff to cook pizzas. Despite your sizzling skin, you remain stoic, because, remember, you're still a god. With a massive push-off, you try to slide down the stove-top, only to stop about two feet later with a "squeek" as your shorts ride up and you're brought to a halt by the friction of butt-cheek on metal. So, you scoot forwared a little bit, push off, and two feet later repeat the prodedure. At the bottom, with the majority of your legs and behind now suffering third-degree burns, you run back to the ladder to start the process all over again.

And that's if you were lucky! One of the slides in my neighborhood, which was about 15 feet or so high, had no barriers at the top preventing a child from plummeting into thin air, which is exactly what I did. I just remember I was at the top, and I was getting into the squat position to ride down, when suddenly I just kind of felt myself falling through space. After a brief 15 foot fall, I landed flat on my back, on a child-trampled ground that was so hard it might as well have been concrete. My tiny body let out a terrific "WHOOF!" as all the air was pushed out of my lungs.

I had never before suffered the ordeal of having the wind knocked out of my body and, as I crawled around below the slide, strangely unable to suck in even the smalled whiff of air, I believed for all the world that I was just seconds away from death. My life flashed before my eyes, and all the visions had to do with merry-go-rounds and slides. After several seconds of total panic, I was finally able to suck in a few painful gasps of precious air, at which point I started one of the most mournful, wailing cries of my entire little life. I walked home, crying all the way, and I trie to explain my ordeal to my father, who kissed my forehead and told me to wash up for dinner, because he had cooked hamburgers. "But, but, but. . . I almost DIED!!! Still, hamburgers sound pretty good actually."

And don't even get me started on swingsets!

Now, in an attempt to boost Web traffic, here's a list of famous women:

Christina Aguilera. Jessica Alba. Lindsay Lohan. Jenny McCarthy. Christina Hendricks. Kate Hudson. Christina Hendricks. Christina Aguilera. Jessica Alba. Lindsay Lohan. Heidi Klum. Angelina Jolie. Christina Aguilera. Jessica Alba. Lindsay Lohan. Jenny McCarthy. Christina Hendricks. Kate Hudson. Christina Hendricks. Christina Aguilera. Jessica Alba. Lindsay Lohan. Heidi Klum. Angelina Jolie.

Posted by Ryan at November 21, 2002 11:17 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!