I am a water park veteran. Since my daughter was eight years old--she’s now 30--I’ve been hauling one or more kids to the water park called White Water in our city. It’s your typical park—slides that are way too tall, lazy river to float around in, rides that you get to by standing in line or climbing stairs holding an unwieldy rubber tube that knocks the person in front of you on the head, swimming areas. You get the idea.
I had a bit of a break for a while when my daughter was too old for me to accompany and before the grandchildren arrived. But, again, for the past eleven years, I’ve bought season passes for the grandboys and off we go to White Water. Now that they are 10 and 17, I’m more of the driver and bank since they really don’t need my supervision or help on any of the rides. That’s cool. I have a special tote bag that is always packed with towels, eight bottles of sunscreen, drink bottles, snorkel masks, band aids, portable cell phone charger. I am a White Water Warrior and a GiGi—don’t mess with me.
As I sat in the lounge chair the other day, it occurred to me that water parks are the great equalizer. One look around and you will see people from all walks of life, a veritable united nations of humanity, all here with one purpose—to have as much fun as possible while slathering on sun screen and paying exorbitant prices for a hot dog. Where the music playing can be as varied as Michael Jackson’s Thriller followed by Jesus Take The Wheel.
There are families of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Lovely mothers wearing hijabs and cool moms covered in tattoos. There is the 1% of the people who are fit and tan and look great in a swim suit. There is the 99% of us who were not thinking about swim suit season when we had that second helping of pie at Thanksgiving. There are black, brown, red, white, pasty white, and every hue in between. There are mentally and physically challenged and great specimens of health (and possibly steroids). There are geeky boys and squeaky girls, people in suits that are barely there and some in suits that cover everything, babies and old men in diapers, and couples walking hand in hand before diving into the wave pool. There is universal health care in the form of a First Aid office where bumps and bruises and burns are tended to.
We do not question each other’s political party, religious affiliation or monetary status. Everyone is equal here. Those of us who purchase season passes are allowed into the park 5 minutes early so we get a little better shot at getting the chair location we want. Five minutes of elitism that evaporates as soon as everyone is in the pool.
The other day a big family sat next to us. The father had several tattoos that were, what I would consider, racist. He wore a t-shirt that said “In Guns We Trust”. Obviously, he and I are on completely different ends of the social justice spectrum. But, we sat and visited about the day, how hot it was, how crowded it was, and I went and got a cup of ice for him when his little girl hurt her knee. We might not agree on anything, but today we are just people. Just people getting along in this world. Wow, don’t we wish that we could do that outside the walls of a water park?
Water seems to be the great equalizer and peace maker. So, my proposal is that we install a water park at the Nation’s Capital. The roof is tall enough for a big slide. We would insist that our lawmakers spend some time together in a pool, in their bathing suits, standing in line holding tubes and shooting down huge streams of water before they are ever allowed to discuss or debate the laws of our country. There’s nothing that would bring them across the aisle like seeing each other in swim wear, water shoes and sunscreen.
National unity and peace through water parks? I don’t know. Nothing else seems to be working. What could it hurt?