May 27, 2024

Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…?” “Wild Waves”


“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Wild Waves” Chapter 58
By Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams

My sister-in-law Sue invited us to Wild Waves—the region’s foremost water park—to commemorate my brother-in-law’s first birthday since his passing last year.  She had us outfitted with two cabanas—one generously provided for us Williamses while all the young adults and their friends chose to crowdedly huddle in the other unit.  It was already 75 degrees out, which is Seattle for 85, so the bodies were flowing in through the entrance like warm soft serve through a rubberized spigot.  Immediately we shed our layers and headed out to the wave pool.  We got waist deep and waited at length for the first wave.  “What’s going on?” pondered Michelle, voicing what all of us were thinking.  “This might just be the restroom,” I offered as I looked across at a heavy-set Chinese kid with a half-lidded look of relief on his face as he bobbed languidly with his arms spread out in the tepid water.

The feast of flesh betrayed the hidden diets of fast food coupled with lethargy.  Beer bellies and cellulite, thongs where they shouldn’t be and bikinis that would make most fathers lose sleep.  Mullets and pig shaves, both of the his-and-her varieties.  Hair every color of the rainbow.  Giant phallic corn dogs plummeting down eager gullets—such an obscene display that I didn’t dare make eye contact as I passed.  I had the audacity to venture into the restroom without my flip flops, and I’m pretty sure in my pique of conscientiousness (being of the 10% not using the swim area as a latrine) my left pinkie toe contracted gonorrhea from the abused tiles.

Olivia ate two whole hot dogs and the rest of us paid for her gastrointestinal bravery the remainder of the evening.  My wife and I were baffled by our kids’ disinterest in the water slides as we stole away against their protests to take our one and only run (we agreed—when we were kids you would’ve had to drag us out of a park like this kicking and screaming).  The whole family floated the lazy river at length—the orgy of bodies both there and in the overcrowded wave pool made me chuckle at our previous evening’s proffered explanation as to the cleaning rituals it would take to open the hot tub and sauna at our resident YMCA.   Apparently, not only a gallon of now-scarce chlorine, but also a priest and a rabbi would be required between each single use.  But no, not here at Wild Waves—over there, she’s coughing into his back hair—and what the hell’s that stain on the back of those giant white, waffle bikini bottoms…?!

I’m sure the confiscated snacks at the gate provide the water crew with endless supplies for their break room, and the smell of marijuana juxtaposed with county sheriff’s vehicles and uniformed officers truly give it that summer festival feel.  It’s a prime chance to display one’s body art—note to self…never get one of my kids’ baby pictures tattooed anywhere on my body.  Even if it appears pristinely when you walk out of the parlor, the ravages of time will turn it into something truly hideous.  Evil even.

It was all over in a matter of a few hours, and frankly it was the wife and I who wanted to stay and ride the slides some more.  Jack wanted to get back to his video games and Lou to her books (alright—that one I’m actually pretty okay with).  Sue had graciously treated us to everything—even the cabana food that attracted several of the park’s fattest and most forward seagulls.  It was good to see the niece and nephew, and experience that giant slice of Federal Way (I looked up what Federal Way is known for and Wild Waves was the first entry, so there you go).  We’ll go back with great anticipation next year—as we seem to do once yearly—always forgetting what we’re in for until it’s splayed out again right there before us in all its be-Speedoed and buttcracked glory.