Perfect (Playground) Pitch

Playgrounds and jungle gyms were staples in my childhood, and despite the many injuries and near-miss catastrophes, those were good times. And while I’m not sure, I think kids today are missing a lot of the fun, what with their plastic playgrounds and “soft surfaces.”

It’s sad to think that they might never experience the thrill of woodchips and pavement gravel embedded in their knees or get 3rd degree burns from a hot metal slider. Oh, the memories.

But let’s also be a little practical here.

While the general premise of a playground is great, there were some questionable choices in earlier versions. I can only imagine what the first “playground pitch meeting” sounded like decades and decades ago.

Playground pitchers (PP): Children need something to climb other than trees, so let’s construct a whole ground for play on cement, cover it with splintered woodchips for safety and then scatter pieces of metal equipment throughout.

Committee (C): Go on…

PP1: First, we’re going to include a swing with both black rubber seats that will reach inferno temps in the summer and wood seats that provide the likelihood of ass splinters. Don’t worry though, as the splinters will be ignored when swingers get blisters on their hands or their flesh stuck in the metal chains.

There’s also the slight chance that riders might get overzealous, pump extremely high and then jump off and attempt to be Super Grover at the suggestion of their mom, badly bruising their tailbone and then blogging about that 25 years later, but the odds are slim to none. (Editor’s note: Yeah, it happened.)

PP2: Speaking of metal, we will provide numerous unsupported slides of heights from 10-feet to 12-feet with a nice concrete mat at the end covered in woodchips for those riders who slide down headfirst.

PP1: Next to the slides we’ll provide monkey bars so that “chicken fights”—American Gladiator-like contests in which foes hang from the bars and attempt to pull the other off the structure—can be staged. We also see children climbing on top of the monkey bars and hanging upside down above cement by their legs like cave bats.

PP2: The next piece is a “teeter-totter.” One kid sits on one end while the other—preferably of similar weight, but doubtful—climbs up onto the opposite end. They push off and up and down they go!

PP1: With this there is the slight chance that one will purposely get off when at the bottom of the teeter-totter, causing the other user to crash down to the ground at a dangerous speed, possibly breaking their tailbone. Depending on weight distribution, there is also the risk that one user will purposely get off and catapult their counterpart across the park, but that could be fun, too!

PP2: Finally, the “merry-go-round,” a metal structure with rails that children will grab and run around with to speed the structure up before trying to climb on it like Jackie Chan jumping on a moving train. Once on, they hold on for dear life to the handles (and their recently ingested lunches) and either wait for it to stop spinning or drag their feet off the side through the woodchips to slow the thing down.

C: I like where you’re going with this. And just think! In the winter the slide can be iced up, creating a kid cannon that will launch them clear into a hardened pile of frozen snow.

PP1: Exactly. More importantly, those that don’t survive the playground will be weeded out of society, but better to find out early, right? After all, much like lawn darts and eyelash curlers, it’s not the toys that are inherently dangerous. It’s how people choose to use them.

C: Agreed. Add a tetherball court—ropes, balls, children with bad aim. A little knock on the head from a tetherball is an easier way to learn the lesson of avoiding rapidly moving objects than letting the kid step out in front of a speeding car someday, smug in the unrealistic expectation that bad things can’t happen.

This is really a win all around.

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32 responses to “Perfect (Playground) Pitch

  1. Hahah! Loved those playgrounds! The only thing missing now is some wax paper to make the slide a better place to launch the human missiles!

  2. you just reminded me of this green wooden gate on my elementary school playground that had lost hinges and spun at about 100 mph. Many a student went flying off or threw up or were littered with splinters under the watchful eyes of teachers who did nothing! Great post.

  3. BahHahaha! This is great! I do think my children are missing out on splendid childhood memories of our “old-school” playground equipment. What is the world coming to?! 😉

  4. I fear tomorrow’s society in which the weak have not been naturally eliminated. I love seeing “kids” today who ask “What’s a monkey bar?” knowing full well that the mere fact they don’t know about them is the only reason they still exist.

    I say for creating a stronger tomorrow we do need to bring back the monkey bar.

    p.s. you had wood chips covering the cement? luckyyyyyyh.

  5. We had a tetherball pole and you aren’t kidding about the velocity of those suckers. Also, my sister was a horrible offender at abandoning to teeter totter–and I never learned my lesson. Horrors!

  6. Brilliant! I once stubbornly refused to let go of a speeding merry go round that I was pushing and got dragged around at 290 mph, until, in an attempt to regain footing, I got pulled underneath the spinning platform of death. Of course, no one thought a thing of it. Business as usual.

  7. Ha! This post made me laugh so hard, remembering all of my creative ways of using that playground equipment. My favorite of course was always the merry-go-round, one kid would sit in the middle while the other would run around to make it go as fast as possible, the person in the middle always ended up holding on for dear life if not being catapulted off! There were also those metal horses on springs that we would ride back and forth as hard as possible trying to touch the ground on the way forward, and more often than not getting shot off the back on the return. I personally broke a wrist and broke a front tooth in half (2 separate occasions) while doing flips on the plastic rings they had hanging from chains. Kids now a days don’t know what they’re missing.

    Survive Reality, Live the Dream

    • I forgot about those springy animal things! Also the big metal hamburger or spaceship you could climb up and then sit in barring claustrophobia. Good lord..

  8. Those were fun times–both at the playground & the ER!!

  9. Hilarious! Toughen those kids up – bullies the least of the worries.

  10. In Poland, we had a giant metal mushroom. We would climb its fungusy roof and fall off, breaking body parts. The swings were all metal (no chains, just long metal hinges that hung down and supported the swings). Those were the good old days. But I had fun in Canadian playgrounds, too. Every day before school, we’d go to the one outside our building and spin on the “tire swing”. On rainy days, we would collect bunches of worms and leave them at the bottom of the slides, so that someone would slide into them. This is why I am such a responsible adult now. I got all my delinquency out as a kid, LOL.

  11. Brilliant, Abby! You had me at Super Grover. I didn’t think anyone but my grandma’s small town in Upstate NY had those merry-go-rounds, but I guess that’s just egocentric, 8 year old me talking. Love the way you approached this with the committee. Capital ‘H’ hysterical!

  12. Kids really ought to play in the road like I did. Sure, I got an occasionally spank for playing chicken with the cars, but playgrounds are whack, man. You make this very, humorously, clear. Bravissimo, Abby!!!

  13. Those playgrounds were universal…I grew up in Africa and we had all those same deadly contraptions in our playgrounds. You left out the charming part about neighborhood dogs and cats regularly choosing the sand or wood chips to crap in (or maybe it was just the African pets who had no sense of decorum!).
    I’m so glad I found your blog -you are one hilarious woman!!

  14. That bought back a few memories,

  15. LOL! You just brought back the memory of my face plant in the gravel from the monkey bars. Who the hell thought gravel would be a good surface for a playground?!

    Visiting from Write on Edge. 🙂

  16. hey, I so agree that today kids are missing the real things in life:)

  17. Wait–your MOM suggested the Super Grover-esque flying off the swing move?

  18. “It’s sad to think that they might never experience the thrill of woodchips and pavement gravel embedded in their knees or get 3rd degree burns from a hot metal slider. Oh, the memories.”

    Oh, that made me laugh out loud – it’s funny – because it’s true.

    “More importantly, those that don’t survive the playground will be weeded out of society, but better to find out early, right? After all, much like lawn darts and eyelash curlers, it’s not the toys that are inherently dangerous. It’s how people choose to use them.”

    I am HYSTERICAL laughing at that whole paragraph!

  19. I can totally relate. Although the most amazing moment of my life was when I jumped off the swing while it was on its way up and I continued going UP for a while before a came very much DOWN. Really felt like I was flying. Really regret landing on that fence. Really wish I could say someone suggested I be Super Grover so it wasn’t just my brilliant idea…

  20. This is the playground I grew up playing and look at me now. I’m tough! Today’s kids are pussies. I completely agree with you. Bring back the concrete and monkey bars and let’s weed these losers out of society early. Can I get a high-five! 🙂

  21. I had to get stitches in my tongue after a playground mishap. I tried to leap from a very high distance to the ground. It didn’t work. I face planted and bit through my tongue on the way down. Ah memories. Kids today need to toughen up.

  22. canigetanotherbottleofwhine

    Oh I’m reminiscing about the good old days. The drawback to these plastic slides is the lightning shock you get when you touch anything metal after sliding. Not sure if that’s worse or the burning metal. Ha!

  23. I still cringe when I take my little monster to these newer, safer, sanitized playgrounds. Seems the snakes, scorpions, and killer spiders enjoy them just as much as the kids! 🙂

    Thanks for linking up with the Humor Me! Blog Hop! 🙂

  24. Oh yes, that merry-go-round was KILLER. Part of the fun was the danger involved…

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