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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)

TITLE: The Slide
By Paul Potenza


The Slide

The day finally dawned when we were actually going to the "Rich Side" of Spring Lake. We timid souls actually were being allowed to use all the accoutrements heretofore forbidden! The Penny Arcade - The Diving Board -


Valhalla at last.

You've gotta understand that this was a REALLY big slide. I'm not talking about your garden variety playground slide that stood about four feet up. This thing reached the stratosphere scratching marks in the clear blue skies over the beach. You had to actually swat CLOUDS out of the way on the way up. The ascent itself could cause Charley Horses that could easily be entered in a steeple chase. I was kind of surprised that they didn't pass out oxygen masks on the pier.

I remember my first attempt. You talk about "pass out". I was wet and cold and I had some smart aleck girl directly below me on the ladder who kept yammering on for me to hurry up. Oh I started out in a hurry but about a third of the way up the ladder (Roughly 10 feet) I happened to glance over the rail and I kind of got this image that I was leaving orbit. Adults that for years I had looked UP to, I was now looking DOWN on and they seemed so small. Each step I took became slower and slower. My legs felt like I was wearing deep sea diver boots.

Half way up the ladder (200 miles) I swear I could see the curvature of the earth. Meanwhile, right below me, was this little girl whose line of sight featured the curvature of my posterior. She kept complaining about the slow progress I was making in reaching the summit.

I finally reached the apex of the slide. (550 miles and listing 38 degrees into the wind) I looked out over Spring Lake and saw what appeared to be ants in bathing suits scurrying in and out of a tiny Penny Arcade that only minutes before had resembled the Parthenon. I vaguely recall wondering why ants would be wearing bathing suits until it hit me that these were not ants. These were the adults that I had left back on the planet of my birth some 30,000,000,000 miles away.

I would LIKE to say that I bravely jumped up onto the platform - sat down backwards like Uncle Frankie and descended...inverted...into oblivion...but that would be a lie.

What really happened was that I put my arms on the platform and hauled my somewhat rotund figure over the last step (with the dainty hand of my ladder mate planted firmly for support on my left buttock.)

Anyway...I righted myself and seeing that there was no other way down (the ladder was crowded with kids) I paused briefly to stem a nosebleed caused by the altitude and gently pushed off.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst07/16/09
Ah, the "terrors" endured due to our childhood perceptions. What a great job you've done centered around a piece of "normal" playground equipment. Delightful and funny!
Mildred Sheldon07/18/09
Ah! Through the eyes of a child some of those slides I had as a child seemed immense and the sheer size of them scared me silly. I loved this story because it bought back such sweet memories of my summers playing on the slides down at the nearby school where I grew up. Thank you.
Chely Roach07/20/09
This could have been written about my first high dive experience. Oye! Loved the humor. Well done!
Rachel Phelps07/22/09
This story was so cute! There seemed to be a shift in voice toward the end to a more adult-sounding POV, but the images were wonderful. Good work!
Deborah Porter 07/23/09
Hi Paul. I just wanted to leave a quick note to let you know your entry, The Slide, actually did very well in the Summer Challenge. Although you didn't receive an award, you made it into the Highest Rankings for Level 2, placing 8th in that Level. Well done!

If you'd like to check the highest rankings for yourself, you can find them here:

The highest rankings are posted every Thursday evening on the Message Boards.

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)