May 19, 2005
The other day I saw some neighborhood kids having a great time on a slip’n’slide. I think the slip’n’slide may well be the best invention ever for anyone under the age of nine. It’s much better than the only garden hose-based toy I had when I was a kid, which was a thirty-seven foot hose divided into different colored sections (blue, red, yellow, orange) with a bright red thing on the end like a plastic lampshade. I remember that it was hooked to the garden hose, and when the water was turned on the lampshade end would lie there and water the lawn. The game was to pull the blue section. You could pull any of the other colored sections and nothing would happen, but if you pulled the blue section the lampshade end would whip around and knock you unconscious so your parents could drink a pitcher of Martinis in peace. It was designed by semi-legendary Milt Horrschvein, who was also responsible for the board games Taxation (It’s W2 Fun!)(tm) and Uncle Milty’s Periodic Tablecloth(tm).
The Horrschvein Hoser is remarkable for being his only toy that was not pulled from the market for boring children to death. In fact it was probably never pulled because I think I may be the only kid who had one, or possibly because consumer advocates accidentally pulled the blue section and were knocked unconscious by the stupid thing. Occasionally we’d go swimming at a local manmade lake that had water the color of cappuccino…complete with patches of light brown foam. Eventually the lake was filled in and turned into an airport, and I went back to playing with the Sprinkler Hose From Hell until my parents decided to join a pool, and so I never knew the joys of owning a slip’n’slide. Years later when I was home from college for the summer I took a job at a day camp for children who were preparing for prominent roles in Stephen King movies. Five days a week I had to find activities to keep eighty-seven kids occupied, and so obviously the slip’n’slide was one of the first things I went for. (It was either that or the giant parachute, designed by Milt Horrschvein Jr.)
The church that hosted the day camp had an amazing 60-degree, three-hundred foot hill that was so incredibly dangerous it was the perfect place to put a slip’n’slide, especially since the instructions clearly state that a slip’n’slide is only to be used in Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, or any other place where the ground is level enough that the average daytime visibility is 40 miles. The kids were having a great time, and it looked like fun, so I couldn’t resist having a go at it myself. Now if you’re unsure what a slip’n’slide is, or if you’ve never been on one, it’s made from a long sheet of special plastic that fell from outer space in 1947. This plastic, when wet, not only becomes a completely friction-free surface, it magically pulls all rocks to its underside when it feels an adult approaching. I discovered on that day that what’s hilarious fun for an eight-year old child is usually a combination of excruciating pain and mortal terror for a twenty-year old adult as I bounced over a dozen rocks at speeds approaching sixty miles an hour and was then thrown forty feet through the air. Fortunately a brick wall stopped my flight, otherwise I might have been seriously injured. The happy ending to this story is that the kids were so impressed by by impersonation of Wily Coyote it kept them entertained for twenty minutes, just long enough for me to find and introduce them to the Horrschvein Hoser.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
An old man lived alone on a farm. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work. His only son, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my potato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up garden plots. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me.
A few days later he received a letter from his son:
For heaven’s sake, Dad, don’t dig up that garden. That’s where I buried the bodies!
At 4:00 AM the next morning, F.B.I. agents and local police showed up and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son:
Go ahead and plant the potatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.