Spiffy Slides was not a romantic place. Yet every year, several couples would choose it as their wedding venue.
It was a pleasant enough amusement park located in the heart of suburbia, with more than a dozen slides that I graded according to their wedgie potential. The amount of exposed buttocks on a daily basis seemed to put a dent in the family-friendly image the park advertised. The most egregious ride had a nasty habit of forcing one’s swimwear so far up one’s crack that to remove it was an indiscreet two-handed operation, and it also often relieved the ladies of their bikini tops altogether.
There was Kiddie Hell for the youngest visitors and lines of beach chairs for the oldest, and a wave pool that looked like a bowl of innertube Cheerios washing from side to side. Always popular was a slow-moving river ride in which one could float along under fake trees to a soundtrack of exotic birds, or get thrown out of the park for engaging in amorous activities with a partner under the waterfall. The air was heavy with the smell of chlorine and broken with the cracks of slamming locker doors, the ground was always sprinkled with popcorn and slick from the passage of wet feet. The park was kept clean and its mechanics attended, a variety of foods were sold at outrageous prices, and security stalked around with an eye out for shoplifters, line cutters, and worst of all, thong swimsuits.
All through the baking heat of the summer it was packed with people hurrying from slide to slide, snapping towels and slapping on sunscreen, and the speakers played the same ninety-minute CD on repeat. Lifeguards argued with Maintenance over Code Browns, neither wanting to fish turds from the water with the net, and both the lifeguards and maintenance workers steered clear of the snobby Souvenir Shop Girls who seemed to do nothing but fold shirts and think they were better than everyone else. The place had no Mickey Mouse or Creepy Old Dancing Guy for mascot; there was no fairy tale or story behind the place; it was just water slides and pizza and wedgies and sunburns aplenty.
I worked at Spiffy Slides for only a season as a lifeguard, but there were three weddings in that time. These couples all chose an identical procedure independently of one another: to give their vows on the top of a favorite ride and then slide down to seal the vow. I’d thought that this was a joke, but other lifeguards disabused me of my innocence. No, couples did this every year. I missed the first wedding, which took place at It’s Just a Damn Raft. After the minister declared them husband and wife, the happy couple and their wedding party removed their outfits to reveal swimsuits and climbed into a raft to ride it to the bottom. Perhaps the lifeguard told them to Have a Spiffy Marriage while pushing the raft into the flume, but I do not know.
The second wedding occurred atop a ride I privately called What’s the Point? It was a dull trio of slides, two with singular loops in which to whirl about and one that just was a straight drop down. What’s the Point? was still popular, boasting an exciting name and catchy colors, and it was a little steeper than some of the others and looked frightening. But it was still a slide that lasted about a grand total of eight seconds, or six if a rider selected the straight drop. The couple had met in line for What’s the Point? and chose to get married there as a tribute to the ride that brought them together. I thought this was dumb but sweet, and looked over to the deck high in the air as I worked Kiddie Hell that day. I could not see much from my vantage between the swinging bridges, and distractions abounded with missing kids and missing parents and Code Browns, and then a dreaded Code Diaper. So another couple promised their eternal love to one another above a water park, stripped to their swimwear, and embarked upon their spiffy marriage on a ride with a Wedgie Factor of 3.*
Bizarrely, the ride of choice for the third wedding was Spooky Time. After winding up four stories of black stairs being sprayed with mist machines, one alighted upon a covered deck in dimness. It was like getting married in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, but without the charm. I was baffled, and wondered if this reflected a lack of romantic nature on my part or insanity on theirs. Being seventeen years old and having not yet gone on a date, I wondered if I ever would, and if one day I would be in a relationship with someone who insisted on being married upon the dark, misty deck of Spooky Time. I knew that I’d do it. That was humbling.
After I finished up my shift that day, I stopped at the end of Spooky Time to watch the goings-on. The wedding party could hardly be seen up high. Only a round of applause, and a wave from the lifeguard above to the lifeguard in the pool below let us know that the couple had finished their vows. Two heads could be seen above the covered flumes, which spiraled down the four stories of the ride, and I squinted at the woman. She was on the left, and it appeared that her swimsuit had odd flouncy white sleeves. Then the couple disappeared. I followed the loops of the ride, knowing how fast they were traveling and their approximate position as the seconds wore on, and then I looked at the opening at the bottom for the couple to emerge. They didn’t.
The wedding party crowded along the banister above to cheer the couple, but still they did not appear from the flumes. The lifeguard in the pool held onto his orange rescue floatie and pushed through the pool uncertainly to the slides.
We waited. And waited some more. Enough time had gone by for a half dozen people to slide down Spooky Time, and yet still we were waiting. The lifeguard in the pool crept closer and closer, and finally, a foot appeared from the slide on the left. Then a second foot, and the billows of a gown. The woman appeared and climbed down into the pool, wearing every bit of her wedding regalia save shoes. The lifeguard reached out to help, and she cried, “I got stuck!”
As she complained with dismayed laughter about how slowly she’d gone down the slide, I stared at her wet dress in amusement. This was not an activity I associated with wedding wear, and clearly it had to be dirt cheap to dunk it in chlorinated pee water. In another minute, her husband appeared. He was also laughing in dismay at how he had had to crawl down all four stories of Spooky Time, since the material of his suit was not conducive to sliding. They thrashed through the pool toward the stairs, and dripped away down the path to begin their spiffy marriage, and I drove home praying that my future spouse, if any, would be content with a Disneyland wedding instead.
* Wedgie Factor Scale (or WFS): Ranging from 1 to 5, the wedgie factor consists of two variables. The first is predictably the degree of the wedgie received. A Sly Peek gets only a 1, and is very simple to remedy without drawing much attention. A Creep is a 2 and a Hike is a 3, and these are handled in a brisk manner. Riders look forward steadily, laughing to friends or pretending to focus on another matter like finding the exit while hoping that no one will notice their hands engaged in saving their modesty as they walk away.
Then there is the Waxing Gibbous Moon of a 4 in which the exposure is nearly complete, and riders do not dare to begin the walk to the exit with their personal business on display. Worst of is the Yaw! of the 5. Coming with the sound effect of a pained yaw!, the rider can do nothing to distract anyone from the fact that the swimsuit has been driven so far into the crack that it has been engulfed to the point of invisibility. It must be dug out at once and the crack soothed of its slide burn, and someone suffering from a recent Yaw! walks in a distinctive, bow-legged fashion.
Mitigating the degree of wedgie score is Pool Depth, and it is an average of these two values that determines the ultimate score on the Wedgie Factor Scale. One might receive a Waxing Gibbous Moon of a 4 from the slide called Zoomer, but Zoomer ended in a deep, frothing pool in which one could fix the situation without an audience in the stark sunlight. Because of this, Zoomer rates only a 3 on the scale. Everyone knew what you were doing with your hands back there, just like everyone knows what you are doing when they can see your feet and puddle of pants below the stall door of a public bathroom, but the acuity of being seen in such an intimate state is lost. A little privacy goes a long way.
The ride Death Wish was a 5, because it ended both with a Yaw! and in a flume with water an inch deep. Although it may sound erotic to spend an hour seeing one exposed rump after another, let me assure you that it is not. Death Wish also liberated bikini tops, and one poor lady after another would have to make a most desperate choice upon arriving at the end: did she cover her bare chest, or did she expose it in order to cover her bare backside and save a crack screaming from slide burn? They split the task in half, heaving one arm over the chest and diving for their swim bottoms with the other. Then they would wobble away bow-legged to join their equally bow-legged companions, and most did not ride Death Wish a second time.
What’s the Point? rated only a 3, because while you finished (depending on which slide you selected) with a Hike, Waxing Gibbous Moon, or a pained Yaw!, you were dumped out into a pool. It was shallower than the one for Zoomer, and everyone from Kiddie Hell to the lifeguards at the pool of Cheerios could see, but you were still able to spare your dignity by the time you ascended the stairs. Spooky Time was a 2, bestowing only a Creep or Hike, and sluicing you out into a deep pool of such length that the only time people exited with bare buttocks was when they liked the attention this display brought. Some people are very proud of their rear views and wish us all to partake in the glory. Sadly, it is often not people whose rear views you are keen to see.