Miracle of miracles, we awoke the next morning, all still alive despite having a tree hanging over us all night. In the clear light of day, it was obvious that the damage was much more impressive than previously thought, particularly judging by the number of golfers who stopped by to marvel at the tree.
I asked if Aunt Awesome wanted me to go chase them away with witty commentary or a Potato Gun, but she declined. I was somewhat disappointed, but had to acquiesce since I was a guest.
Over the course of the morning the cousins came by, along with their children. I hadn't seen any of them in years and years, so they all looked older and fatter than I remembered. I suppose I'm older and fatter, too, but I think it makes me look distinguished.
Finally Mini (the youngest cousin) drug herself in, bleary-eyed from a long night of partying. She recounted a tale of woe that was as boring as it was nonsensical, and had something to do with obtaining a low-priced keg that would fit their beer bong. Or maybe that was the other way 'round, I'm not sure.
After brunch (which was mighty delicious) we headed over to the Condo Association's pool. It was here that I was reminded, once again, that the rich live differently than you and I do.
Specifically, they live better.
I lived in a condo once, and our "pool" was a six-by-six rectangle that held fetid water and an unknown number of mosquito larvae and tadpoles. You could swim in it, but only if you wanted to have leeches in close contact with your privates under murky water.
And the Jacuzzi? Let's just say the bedspread at a porno shoot is only slightly more hygienic than that cesspool of human filth.
So I was somewhat skeptical that fun could be found at the Condo Association pool. In fact, I was looking forward to a fast retreat to a McDonald's Playland and drinking a milkshake. Because this belly fat didn't put itself there, you know. I had to help it.
When we entered, through the secured gate, I was awestruck at what Aunt Awesome had described as "our little community pool."
First of all, there were two pools. One only about 18" deep for the children, with a giant mushroom fountain at one end and a playing area at the other end. Spaced around it were hundreds of lounge chairs, and a covered area at the end for barbecues. The other pool was an adult pool, between 3 and 5 feet deep, large enough that you could swim half-laps from one side to the other.
And off to the side of the Adult Pool was the five-foot basin for the water slide, complete with one and a half loops, which you accessed by walking up the stairs in a tower that was about 25 feet high.
It was better than the crappy water park that got auctioned off in White's City, and I said so to Wifey.
"Can't be," she said with a twinkle in her eyes. "You won't get to see anybody flaunting their privates here like you did in White's City."
"The day is young," I said. "There's hope yet!"
The pool was well-staffed and apparently all hiring decisions were made by a man, because the lifeguards were all good-looking 20-year-old women in tight speedos who lounged provocatively under umbrellas.
We quickly applied sunscreen, then my children spent all of 20 seconds deciding what to do first: "The water slide!"
So we went and did several turns on the water slide. It was as fast as it was impressive, and I soon learned to respect the velocity one could gather coming down it.
The adults gathered in the water slide basin, where we were ostensibly watching the children come down the slide. In reality we were gabbing and waving as they made the near-continuous loop to and from the slide.
Occasionally one of the cousins would take a slide, and once she'd sobered up Mimi took several. However, soon they approached me after a particularly impressive slide.
"How do you go so fast?" they asked me. "You're shooting down that a lot faster than we are!"
Never one to miss a chance to be pedantic, I dropped into Confucius mode. "Grasshopper, in order to be a rocket on the slide, you must be like the slug underfoot: without friction."
"What the hell?" asked one. "Can you say that in English?"
"You can't let your suit touch the slide," I said. "You put your shoulders and your calves down and arch your back to keep your butt off the slide. You'll go faster."
And, sure enough, I was right. Soon they were rocketing down really, really fast. Eventually Denny was making huge splashes, too. I would say it's because he's fatter than me, but the reality is that he's not, he was just going down only on his back, legs up in the air, and then shooting out the tube like a cannonball.
I was insanely jealous, so I had to try the same thing. Big mistake on my part.
Listen, I'll be the first one to admit that I'm not in the greatest shape of my life. Unless you count "soft" as a shape, which most people don't. If I had to pick which Herculoid I most resemble, I'd pick the little yellow shape-changing paisley thing.
Even so, I should be able to go down the water slide without injuring myself. But the reality is that I can't. I started down on my back, but got turned around and was going head-first halfway down. But going head-first is against the rules, and I didn't want the hottie lifeguard to yell at me. As I tried to spin my body to correct this, I felt a wrenching in my stomach.
Specifically, it felt like I'd been stabbed by a Zulu spear three inches over from my belly button. I ceased sliding and began rolling, and when my corpse finally tumbled off the end of the slide my splash was pathetic. The others didn't hesitate to let me know that.
At least, they let me know once I'd dragged my sorry ass over to them.
"What's wrong?" Wifey asked. "You don't look so good."
"I'm fine!" I gasped.
"Dude, your splash was totally lame," Donny said. "I can fart and kick up more water than that."
"Yeah," said Mimi. "Even I can splash more than that, and I'm a girl!"
"Oh….yeah….I'll….show….you!" I gasped as I struggled out of the water. The invisible Zulus were stabbing me again, this time with flaming spears.
"Why don't you rest a moment?" Wifey said. "You can go in a minute."
"No!" I said. "I'll splash or die trying!"
And so I struggled up the stairs, with the boy passing me 3 times as I tried to climb my way to the top. Then, as I caught my breath, I let him go four more times just for good measure.
Then, I was ready. Mimi had just arrived behind me, sent by Wifey to see if I had died.
"What's the matter, old man, did you chicken out?" she asked me.
Up until then, I had begun to think that further sliding was not in the future. But not now that I had to impress a 23-year-old cousin-in-law that I barely know who thinks I'm an idiot anyways, even if it meant getting a compound hernia that landed me in the hospital.
Because I may be a dork, but I have my pride.
So I launched myself down the slide again, with the reckless abandon reserved for the young and drunken. Bear in mind that I was neither.
I realized I was having a more serious problem than a simple hernia halfway down. In addition to Zulu spears stabbing at my stomach, and being reversed again, the integrity of my swimming trunks was becoming questionable as I began to feel the slide hurtling by beneath my bare butt.
I tried to reposition myself and grab the trunks, lest I lose them on the slide proper, but that sent my body spiraling all akimbo. Given the somewhat feeble state of my stomach muscles, I was unable to really get my body under control, and at this point found my consciousness a mere rider on the sack of meat that my soon-to-be-waterlogged corpse had become.
Splashdown! Witnesses told me that the splash was impressive, mostly because I came flying out of the tube on my back, arms beneath me, legs in the air, and head first. I don't know about that, but I do know that when I hit the water two things happened to me:
1) I inhaled six gallons of water
2) My swim trunks ended up around my knees
The lifeguard began blowing her whistle and telling me that headers were not allowed and that I needed to get out of the landing zone. The others cheered my splashing. Wifey looked on with some concern.
I wrestled with my trunks and the feeling that a good 25% of my innards were trying to escape via a hole they were gnawing in my abdomen and made no progress on either the trunks or getting out of the way.
Let me tell you, there's no particularly good way to pull your swim trunks up in 4' of water when they're down at your knees without readily broadcasting this information to the world, and there's no way to swim away from the slide without losing the rest of your trunks and hoping that public nudity laws are more lax in an Atlanta condo pool than in the rest of the United States.
So I was flailing when the flux of water down the slide suddenly vanished, like the tide rolling out is a harbinger of a tsunami. I looked up in horror and…
BAM! Mimi landed on me.
This is not a situation that you want to be in: trunks around ankles, possibly herniated, and your wife's 23-year-old cousin sitting on your head with you underwater. There simply is no graceful way to extricate yourself from this situation without coming off as a little bit of a pervert or a whole lot of a dumbass.
So I did what any quick-thinking person would do: I blamed her.
"HEY!" I yelled. "You pulled my shorts down!"
"Oh my God!" she said. "I'm so sorry!"
"What's wrong with you?" I asked as I struggled to pull them up. "Weirdo! Pervert! Sicko!"
"Geez, sis, that's low," said Donny. "Pullin' a guy's shorts down just because he upstaged your splash."
And just like that, crisis was averted. We proceeded to make fun of her and I studiously avoided sliding again for fear of a repeat problem. I still felt like I'd been hit in the stomach by a Buick, but I figured that would go away in a few months. Pain is temporary, right?
Unfortunately that night was not months away, and I lay in so much agony that I couldn't give Wifey a proper "last night in the states," for which she was not terrifically appreciative.
Damn water slide.
Tomorrow: The Return