Welcome to Top 5 Fun Friday, a regularly-occurring blog feature where I give you a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for. Why? Because it’s now 2022 and I still find myself BEGGING the internet for fun little diversions to read, so I have to create some of this shit myself. This week’s list…
Top 5 Realizations I Had While at Water World This Week
Once upon a time I wrote a two-part article about Water World that I think was in the neighborhood of 10,000 words. I’m certainly not going to do that to you again – ain’t no one got time for that. But I also can’t not write about Water World. It’s literally my favorite place on earth.
Hell, I’m a grown ass man who took a morning off of work in the middle of the week to go to Water World by myself, and only two types of people do that: a) weirdos or b) people who are self-driven and self-possessed to a nearly sociopathic level. I’m certainly the latter (more on that below), and now that I think about it, I’m a big ol’ weirdo, too. When I tell people I go to Water World by myself, they look at me and I can tell 99% of them have never even entertained the idea that going to a water park alone was even an available choice to be made.
That’s clearly not a “me problem” because I’ve done this at least 3 times. I just want to ride some fuckin’ waterslides! The upshot is that all that time alone offers ample space for reflection. So, here are 5 things, some profound, some exceedingly trivial, that I learned while at Water World this week.
Water World is GREAT exercise
Like the right thinking adult I am, I got to Water World right when it opened and managed to have everything put away and ready for my first ride before the clock struck 10. I normally head straight for Pirate’s Plunge, but since I was so early and Pirate’s Plunge is an older ride that rarely has much of a line, I ventured down to the south part of the park and decided to start my day with The Peaks Speed Slides.
A quick aside here: I’ve been working with a health coach (who’s been on my show – Jackie Fouchia), and it’s been fantastic. With her there are no gimmicks, no tricks, no bullshit. Just advice, guidance and accountability to help you make good choices. It’s been working, and I haven’t hated it! So, when I told her I was headed to Water World and that would be my exercise for the day, she asked, “How?”
Are you shitting me? Look at this monster.
I couldn’t find it online, but that’s gotta be at least 80 feet tall. Ever climbed 8 flights of stairs? Yeah, it’s a workout. I was the very first one up there that morning, and I rode it 3 times in a row. I do Orangetheory Fitness, I am acutely aware of when my heartrate is elevated now, and I was sucking gas by that third trip up those goddamn stairs. I told the lifeguard up there how winded I was, and she said, “Yeah. There’s this old guy who comes in every morning, does this ride like 10 times, and then leaves. That’s his daily workout.”
I didn’t know I needed a new role model. I don’t know this old man, but his ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter.
We’re creating a generation of ass enthusiasts
At Water World you walk. A lot. Not just upstairs and uphill, but all over the place. It was the one time I wished I had an Apple Watch so I could clock my distance because my best guess is that I covered 2 miles in a little under 3 hours. While you’re walking, you have ample opportunity for people watching.
And holy shit are women’s swimsuits cut high in the back anymore! It’s remarkable. There’s a lotta ass on display! Not to sound too much like Grandpa Simpson, but when I was growing up, swimsuits were much more modest, even when it came to bikinis. Full butt cheek coverage and if you were lucky, a bit of cleavage up top. It seems the culture collectively said fuck that, and now there’s ample amounts of ass meat in every direction.
I point this out not to be creepy or gross, but to celebrate what I hope continues to be the shedding of this country’s lame puritanical impulses. We all have asses, and if you’re intent on showing yours off, more power to you. I don’t care. I saw lithe, firm butts. I saw giant butts with lots of cellulite cut to show off all that assmeat intentionally. Celebrate the fact that you have a body, it works, and you’re out in the sun enjoying one of the best places on all the earth. On that note…
If you want to experience body positivity writ large, go to Water World
Literally within 5 minutes of being at Water World, you will see every type of body that a person can have. You’ll see everyone from fitness model types to morbidly obese people and everyone in between, including beefcake high school dudes who flank the top of Thunder Bay, pictured a bit below. And here’s the thing, when you see that much flesh blasted at you all at once, it has a numbing quality and you pretty much stop giving a shit about any of it. Sure, some of the more distinctive types might stand out particularly if they’re making a notably audacious swimsuit choice, but otherwise it all sort of starts to blur together.
I mentioned earlier that I’m working with a health coach, and a primary impetus for that choice was my own personal sense of vanity. I want to have what’s considered culturally as “a good body” which makes me no different from just about anyone else. But after a day at Water World and seeing every single extra from Central Casting all do a collective swimsuit runway show right in front of me, I realize no one truly gives a shit about my body except for me. And if there are those who are judging others, they’re dicks and that’s on them. Realizing this is freeing.
Because the beautiful truth about Water World is that everyone, as I do, just wants to ride some fuckin’ waterslides. Waterslides are SO fun, everyone who goes into the park manages to park whatever body insecurities they have for a few hours. Where else does that happen?
So yeah, vanity is a reason I work with my health coach, and I’m not going to stop. But with a fresh trip to Water World at the front of my brain, maybe I can remember to be kind to myself more.
I make friends really easily
Last weekend I went to the Punk Rock Saves Lives Festival, and it was phenomenal. The only person I knew there well at all was Justin Duran, and he was playing the fucking thing. So, I hung out by myself for a bit, and within the hour, I met a couple of other dudes, and they became my ad hoc buddies for the day. They were like off-brand versions of my own friends where we talked about punk rock, beers we liked, the global supply chain (and other such dad-style shit), and whatever. At the end of the show, I ghosted them when I called a Lyft and have no plans to ever see them again. I think Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club calls these “single serving friends.” We had a nice time, and it ended. Good enough for me!
Earlier this week I was in line at the Screamin’ Mimi, hit it off with 3 dudes, and since Water World’s most popular (or at least, most visited) attraction is “The Line,” it was nice to have some company. We rode the Screamin’ Mimi which is still as fun as ever. And we ended up back together at the giant Speed Slides, even though that wasn’t the plan. After more chit chat, I asked them if they would race me at the Sunset Racer since up to that point I had only beaten adolescent girls, which, considering weight is a factor, isn’t a fair fight.
But going against 3 fellow grown ass men? Aw hell yeah. Let’s dance, bitches. So we get up there, we’re all lined up, the light turns green, and you plunge into a corkscrew of darkness. You only know how well you’re doing once you emerge from the tubes and much to my surprise this guy Jeff was in front of me, but only by a half a body length. I’m gaining quickly, and I shout at him, “I’M COMIN’ FOR YA’!!” which looks hilariously sexual written on the page like that, but was just a pure weirdo battle cry from me.
We coast to the bottom of the slide, and, unsure of where the finish line actually is, don’t know who actually won. The other two guys – Ken and Nick, I think? – are way behind and emerge surprised at just how fast Jeff and I got down there. As we walk toward another part of the park continuing to bullshit, we hit a fork in the road, and I bid my farewells to them. Because, c’mon… there’s nothing worse than being with a group of friends and wondering how long you have to entertain the new guy.
Water World nukes every ounce of cynicism out of me
That’s ultimately the reason I think Water World is my favorite place. I work in public affairs. The world is deeply fucked up. Parenting is hard, and my obligations are many. But at Water World, I am unbothered by all of that shit.
I look around me, and I see kids with sunscreen they couldn’t fully rub into their faces, teenagers in love, lame dads enjoying a day together, grandmas, fat people, skinny people, people who don’t speak English, Little League teams, work friends, people who have been going to Water World for 30+ years (like me!), people experiencing it for the first time, and any other subset of society you can think up.
And this is going to sound incredibly hokey, but as I was just prancing around in Thunder Bay, I looked around at everyone frolicking against the gentle waves and I couldn’t help but smile. Because not a few seconds earlier, the water was calm, and a giant buzzer went off indicating the waves were starting. What always follows that sound is another sound. It’s a collective shriek of joy and anticipation from those in the water. Every last dorky motherfucker in there, even if they didn’t make a sound, is excited that the waves are starting. Every single one.
That feeling of childlike joy fills me with optimism. We may feel isolated, disconnected, or at odds with our fellow humans. But goddammit, it’s hard not to smile while you’re gallivanting in a wave pool with 500 strangers.
I love Water World. And I can’t wait to go back.