Released 25 January 2010
that was me at Ohio’s
largest indoor waterpark last weekend. I
was hoping you hadn’t noticed, as I haven’t made it to the tanning salon or
Weight Watchers yet this year, but there I was, bathing suit and all, in the
middle of January. I didn’t just wake up
on Saturday morning and say, “hey, let’s go to the waterpark.” No, this was a family group outing that began
with brunch and then moved onto the slides and decks of the recreation area. I debated over sitting in the lobby with a
good book, my clothes and my dignity intact, but figured I could at least
attempt the lazy river and the hot tub.
Now if people-watching at the mall or the airport is your
hobby of choice, you’ll definitely be intrigued by the sights at the waterpark. People of all ages, sizes and shapes saunter
by on their way to the next thrill. Given the expanse of skin displayed, tattoo-spotting was an easy task,
and while I didn’t keep track of the percentage of people sporting the ink,
body art definitely has come a long way since Popeye had the anchor traced on
his forearm. Only one down-side to
people-watching – I had to walk around the place in my bathing suit while
others gazed at my age, size and shape – but no tattoos.
Watching families play in the wave pool took me back to
my first sighting of a wave pool at Geugua Lake many moons ago. I could not figure out why people were
standing in water up to their knees all facing in one direction and not doing
anything. As a teen-ager I had worked as
an attendant at a wading pool, but there at least the kids pretended they were
swimming. Why weren’t these people
moving around? Finally, the horn blew
and the water began to move, as the man-made waves rolled towards the waiting
bathers. Ah, a mock version of the Jersey shore – now I get it!
.The waterpark we were in was massive in size, and I
found myself thinking about how puny RJ’s Spraypark at the Kroc Center was in comparison. With its three
activity pods and a handful of tumble buckets, we are definitely the kid sister
to these indoor attractions that have been springing up across Ohio. OK, more like a second cousin once
removed. Yet considering that the cost of admission to
the waterpark, lunch and an hour spent in the video arcade could cover a car
payment, I realized that most families I know won’t be making a weekly trip up
to Sandusky – and the Kroc Center’s
spraypark began to look a lot better.
brief twinge of envy was quickly replaced by a fresh sense of gratitude for
what we do have. On a hot, sticky July
afternoon I sure am glad for those tumble buckets, Adirondack chairs, and children’s laughter – and a manageable water bill. Come on, summer!
much is enough? The sprinkler in the
backyard? A handful of tumble buckets? Do we really need a flume adventure that
reaches screeching speeds of 40 miles per hour? Half the world’s population would be grateful for clean water.
Wait – this was
supposed to be a fun column. No images
of Haiti or an orphaned child. Yet life isn’t all
or nothing. As people of conscience, we
do have to wrestle with questions of consumption, questions of splashing in a
resort while others are suffering only miles away – or next door.
The question becomes one of balance. The ancient wisdom
of Solomon reminds us: “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to
mourn and a time to dance.” It’s why we
gather for a meal and some funny stories after a funeral. I’m thinking it may be OK to paraphrase
Solomon and say: “There is a time to
pray for the children of Haiti,
and a time to strap our kids into the min-van and head to the waterpark.” Don’t look for me there, however – people my
age really should wear clothes in January.