Hey, have you ever done anything really stupid in your life? Well, that’s a stupid question. Of course you have, everyone has, and if you tell me otherwise, that’s just BS. Here’s one time it happened to me. Me and my woman Erica went to this water park we’d never been to before. It was in the middle of nowhere, but some of my friends had gone there before. I found out about it at this party that everyone was at, they said there was some water slide that was eighteen stories tall there. It was my lousy luck that Erica overheard the whole conversation about it. She wants to try everything out. She hears about the water park with the giant water slide, and tells me right there in front everyone that she wanted to go, which got a good laugh out of my buddies. So between being the only one of my friends who’d never been here, and my woman with her novelty fetish of wanting to try anything new, I decided to go to this water park place one hot day in July.

Going to a water park wasn’t the first thing on my list that I gotta do before I die. But Erica wanted to go, and there was this big heatwave going on that made me just want to jump in a pool and stay there. Besides, I was sick of my buddies giving me stupid grins saying, “Hey, did you take Erica to the park yet? I know she wants to go.” Talk about incentive. So all this perfect convergence of woman, buddies, and heat, and here I was. At a water park like a six-foot-two nine year old.

Most of the rides were a joke. Like I expected them to be. Like someone really just couldn’t get over the fact that the last time they went to Disney World was twenty years ago, but the lines for them were still ridiculously long. I guess people were really hard up for entertainment in upper-middle class suburbia, but I couldn’t be too judgmental, because I was there with them. There were little water slides that looked too lame for even nine year olds to go on. Elmo was smiling on them. He was the only one under eight who was. There was also this lazy river thing, which was like Water Tubing for Dummies. On that thing, there were kids screaming, women I guess were their mothers screaming, and old people looking like they couldn’t believe they were spending what could be their last days burning their butts on some bad piece of rubber. So far, this was looking like a colossal waste of time. And on top of it, it was hot. I was overheating at a water park. Something seemed wrong with this scenario.

Thankfully, things got a little better when we got to the adult-looking rides. They were less crowded, maybe because most of the customers here were too short to go on them. You know, you never know how great it is to be a normal temperature until you are too hot or too cold. The bigger slides were taller, and seemed more dangerous, like the kind where you went down a tube blind before you crashed into the water. I went down that a few times, and I was actually beginning to enjoy myself. Well, I was in a good mood now. I was ready for anything now. I told Erica that. Stupid me. Because the next thing she says is, “Good. Now we’re going on the big slide. That’s the main reason I came here.” Great.

So we walk to the ride. I felt like a lunatic for even contemplating this insanity, because the slide looked like a monster. You could see the water slide from a quarter of the park away, which is not so strange seeing it looked eighteen stories tall. I analyzed it as soon as I saw it, and kept making observations. The ride was constructed like the base of a big fire tower. Descending from the platform, way on the wee little tippy-top, was a cyan slide that cascaded like a bad freefall into the ground below. I was getting a cramp in my neck just looking up on the top. There was a line that extended the entire way down to the ground, like there were free Bruce Springsteen tickets at the end of the line if you were crazy enough to ride on this thing and lucky enough to survive it. And, heatwave be damned, it looked like we were going to join it too, based on the way Erica was dashing ahead of me. I tried one more tactic to get out of this thing in a manly way by yelling, “Erica, don’t you think this ride is a little too high for you?” She just giggled and ran towards the ride. I took that as a ‘no’.

So we got on the line, and approached the stairs. I felt like we were lemmings at the end of the line. There were people streaming downwards from the top, like they were running away from an inferno. These people seemed like the smartest ones in the room, or in this case, lack of room. Especially once the line moved up enough for me and Erica to start climbing the staircase to our doom. It was like being on a cruise ship during a hurricane. Every time the wind blew, I felt it sway even more. I hadn’t noticed any breezes on solid ground, but I sure noticed them here. The only good thing about the hurricane blast was that at least I wasn’t overheating. More people were deserting the ride, cascading like a waterfall down the stairs. I was beginning to think I was an idiot for even being on this thing.

So why didn’t I turn around, leave the place? I didn’t want to be the wimp. I was really hoping Erica would chicken out, and I’d have an excuse to get the hell out of here without looking like a complete doofus. After all, she’s the one afraid of heights. I hoped she would say, “Marc, I’m getting dizzy” like the way she did when she was on the observation deck the one time on the Empire State Building, and I could join the stream of descending defectors with dignity. She turned around and leaned in to me, her eyes wide like she was scared enough to leave. But noooooo. She said: “Can you hear those guys in front of us screaming up there as they’re going down? This is going to be really cool.” Oh, crap. So much for that easy exit.

So like a march of death, the lemmings inched forward, victim by victim, like the conveyer belt that sucks all the kids into the meat grinder in the video to “Another Brick in the Wall”. It made me get manically melodramatic in my thinking. Soon, my turn would come. My woman Erica was laughing like some drunk banshee. I don’t think she was aware of the fate that was awaiting her. Another swarm of lemming rejects, including several calorically-challenged people, came down the stairs. Then a big gust of wind blew through, and I swear the contraption veered about a foot. Some guys in front of us said, “Sh&*! Did you feel that?” So I wasn’t imagining things. Erica laughed. Everything was turning into a bad horror flick, like we were extras for some Scream sequel and didn’t know it. The march continued and I was still in it.

As we got closer to the top, it felt like I was approaching The Platform of Death. It seemed the most appropriate term I could come up with. Another blast of wind came though as confirmation. The guys in front of us went down to their deaths, one by one, each one crying out for their mothers and damning various SOBs and other expletives as they went. Another swarm of ‘rejects’ rushed down the stairs with terror in their eyes. This was definitely not looking good.

Finally we reached the platform. The wind then blew and it swayed. It was terrifying. The teenaged attendant called the next lemming, which happened to be my woman Erica, to be the next one to jump to her fate. I shuddered with fear, and immediately thought, is the last chance for us to bail out? But no. Erica plunked her backside in the ready position, and the attendant said “You can jump now.” She turned to me, and I thought she’d say she loved me as her last words. But no. I got a big grin like a seven year old. It wasn’t the first thing I was expecting, but that is all I got. She then dropped, and I no longer saw her.

It seemed my woman had just jumped to her death, and I was next. I was expecting my whole life to fly in front of me, like they say is supposed to happen to you at the moment of your death, but that didn’t happen. I wondered why. All this lovely contemplation of mine was interrupted by the attendant who pointed at me, repeating his mantra “You can jump now” to me. And seeing my woman was suicidal enough to take the plunge (hah hah), I guess I had no excuse to forego mine. Where my lady goes, I go. And so I readied myself to go. You would not believe what I saw in front of me.

I saw miles and miles of horizon. I thought I’d be just seeing the slide. I don’t know why I didn’t notice this when I was safe on the ground, but the cyan slide was perched at a near ninety degree angle. I looked for a purple speck on the ground, which was the color of Erica’s bathing suit. I couldn’t catch it in a quick scan, but I didn’t see any ambulances either, which I considered to be a good thing. The executor, I mean the teenage attendant, shook me out of all this by asking, “You ready?” Well, life had been good. So long world. And off I went.

I don’t know how else I could describe it, but I felt like I was just dropping. It almost felt as if I jumped out of an airplane in a vertical position, dropping at an incredible speed. I suddenly realized I wasn’t even on the slide. I felt like I was going to fall off. I kid you not. To think, I just I jumped off a eighteen-story platform. I kept hearing Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” in my head and it pissed me off because it felt too warped to be funny. Finally, still in a somewhat vertical position, my ass made contact with the slide, and getting it wet never felt so good. The rest of my person also touched the slide at various points, and I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I guess this would break any fall I was taking. I was still dropping very fast.

I started arching to the point where I saw nothing but sky. Water splashed everywhere beside me. Was I dead? I looked at one of the clouds and expected to see my Uncle Herb who died eight months ago appear. He didn’t, and all of the sudden, I stopped moving. I wasn’t sure what was going on until I tried sitting up, and I realized I was at the bottom of the ride, on solid ground. I saw a purple bathing suit zooming towards me. It was Erica. I was never so glad to see her. She was running towards me. It seemed she was sharing in my joy at our survival. She leaned over to me as I was getting out of the ride, and I anticipated the hug and kiss I would get for our first reunited moment. Instead, she said, “Wasn’t that awesome? I can’t believe how much fun that was. Didn’t it go so fast? It was—” So much for my heartfelt reunion. Well, at least we survived it.

Holy crap, I think I’ve had a few too many beers. I’d better shut up while I can.