[Baby Watch: Day 226]
Post-Apocalyptic Playground Equipment, Ranked
Thinking about a post-apocalyptic America is a depressing proposition for any person, let alone a young and impressionable child. But, being the good parent I am, and never one to sugar coat things, I’ve decided to prepare my child for all potentially disaster-filled and life-altering outcomes for his future world. To do this, I often take him to the park by our house. “A park?!?” you say. “How would a park prepare your child for a desolate hellscape?” Clearly, you have not been to the park of which I speak.
I therefore present all 7 pieces of playground equipment from our local park, ranked from least to most soul-crushing.
1. The Swings
The swings are the lone piece of playground equipment that can raise a smile from my child. Sure, they’re rust-riddled and likely disease-covered, but the second swing from the left is somehow not cracked, lacks holes and mysterious stains, and moves without producing horror movie creaking sounds. I have seen my child giggle on this apparatus. Giggles occur during “play.” Playgrounds are intended to create “play.” Arguably, the swings are almost doing their job, even if they’re simultaneously explaining the meaning of the word “loneliness.”
2. The 4-Way Teeter-Totter
This piece of equipment ranks 2nd, only because I am unsure of whether or not it works. There are never any other children in the post-apocalyptic playground by my house (No, seriously, in no less than a dozen visits, I have never seen another child. Once I saw a county worker sleeping in his truck, and once there was an old guy muttering to himself and smoking a cigar the size of a tree limb, but never any other children), so I cannot test this device’s teetering and/or tottering ability. (As a 200-lb. man, I cannot sit on the other side from my child, as he would obviously fly off in cartoon-like rag doll fashion, which, while hysterical, is probably not in his best interests health wise.) Perhaps its teetering is top-notch. Perhaps it totters with the best of them. But, as it is, it only functions as a precarious bench with handles.
I also need to mention that, confusingly, 2 of the seats are animals (a lively looking parrot and a scared, faceless raccoon), but the other two are best described as androgynous snails. I’m not sure if they were once animals that broke and were replaced by whatever the repairman had in stock, or if the teeter-totter company decided to portray a cross-section of American wildlife and literally said, “Okay, what four animals should me use . . . well obviously a parrot and definitely a raccoon . . . then we should have one androgynous snail . . . annnnnd, oh what the hell, let’s use two snails.”
Androgynous snail, or Nike swoosh? You decide:
3. The Slide
I have very few qualms with the slide. When an object (baby) is placed upon the slide, it slides. This means it completes all requisite functions of being a slide. Hypothetically, this could be ranked as the #1 piece of equipment in the playground. Unfortunately, it has 3 strikes against it. Strike 1 – My son doesn’t find slides to be amusing. Especially very short slides that are over before they begin. Strike 2 – The bottom of the slide was somewhat sticky, bringing the sliding experience to a sudden and somewhat violent halt. Strike 3 – The steps to the top of the slide had, what appeared to be, a large amount of dried blood on them. Boring, sticky, and bloody = the 3rd best playground apparatus.
61. The Spring Rocking Skunk
“61?” you ask. “What happened to Number 4?” Well, there is such a dramatic drop-off from the 3rd best piece of equipment to the 4th, that I needed to make a clear differentiation. In fact, I’m not sure you can even call this thing “equipment.” It’s a gizmo. A contraption. A doohickey.
I think it might be a sheep? One can’t be sure, but it looks more like Pepe Le Pew if he abandoned his woman wooing ways to became a hardcore meth addict. The spring that makes it rock is broken, along with the spirits of any child placed upon it. Even the leaves, dead and rotting, refuse to be near it. This thing was denied entrance into The Island of Misfit Toys and was instead cemented in concrete in The Playground that Time Forgot. It has the same effect on children as cigarettes. My son lost 45 minutes of his life as I took this picture. 61st may be too considerate a ranking.
62. The Pole of Misery
Was it meant for tetherball? If so, why is it sitting atop a 4-foot circle of elevated concrete? I’m no tetherball expert, but I’m guessing a person would trip on that thing a cool dozen times while looking up at the ball. It couldn’t have been a flagpole, because it ends just above the picture. Besides, what psychopath builds a 3 foot tall flagpole in the direct middle of a playground? Did this playground used to belong to a burlesque troop who raised their kids in the ancient arts of pole dancing? If so, QUICK, GET AWAY FROM THAT POLE, BABY OLIVER!
And why is the whole thing encompassed by a wide concrete circle? Is it some sort of court for a Whack-a-Pole sport of which I am totally unaware? Is it the world’s smallest theatre-in-the-round? Is it some sort of mini playground sundial? “What time does it say?” “It’s a quarter till the fun starts!”
When the crew who installed this masterpiece was hard at work pouring the concrete, did they proudly look to each other asking, “Can you imagine how much fun kids will have with this thing?!?” “I KNOW! Their parents will literally have to drag them away from this pole! They’ll yell, ‘No dad, don’t make me leave the pole! I love it so!!’”
Clearly, this pole has created more questions than it has answered. The goal of any good playground structure.
63. The Thingamajig
Obviously created as a larger-than-life sized replica of the human heart, this cardiovascular object could easily be used to teach first year medical students the differences between the two atrioventricular valves and the two semilunar valves. (Thanks to the University of Wikipedia for making me heart smart! U-DUB!)
No, in all seriousness, this was actually created for 4-way Ice Bucket Challenges. You can easily toss as large amount of ice water into the main receptacle, and it will funnel an equal amount out and onto up to four participants.
No, no, no, I’m just kidding. This is actually the first prototype for a basketball hoop, before they decided to shrink the bucket and add pavement. Three of the chutes were eliminated in 1913, making this the last standing relic from a long-lost era of hoop driven sports.
Wait, this is none of those things? WELL THEN WHAT THE HELL IS IT?!?!?!? Cause I have absolutely no idea. And neither does any child who might want to play in this godforsaken park. If your park requires in-depth instructions on how to use it . . . it has failed as a park. I’m not sure which is worse – the short, barren pole or the tall, confusing pole.
64. The Widowmaker
I received a lengthy lecture from my wife for even placing my child upon this.
Think about that for a second.
A piece of playground equipment, which actually exists in an actual playground that is actually open to the public, is deemed so dangerous by an educated and loving mother, that she was ANGRY that her child was allowed to be near it. How, in 2015, is a large piece of corroded and menacing metal allowed to remain in an open playground? Why are there no personal injury lawyers staking out this playground as a part of their daily efforts to drum up business?
And why is it not overgrown with weeds?!? Am I to believe that someone put effort into the upkeep of this death trap? I mean, that mulch is no more than a year old, and the grass has been cut and trimmed in the recent weeks. Someone may have even weeded around this thing within the past calendar year. This blows my mind.
A human person woke up one morning, ate breakfast, then went to this playground with the full intention of expending energy to make sure the world would have an unobstructed view of this mushroom-shaped nightmare. WHAT KIND OF SICK AND SADISTIC PERSON WOULD DO THAT?!?
Clearly this is the worst piece of playground equipment that has ever existed, right? I have spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to determine what could be worse, and I have concluded that only a large pit filled with glass shards would be less appropriate. But even then, if you end up at the bottom of a playground pit, you’d have a clear goal to accomplish. Which is not something The Widowmaker can claim.