Summer Musing: The Slip ‘N Slide


The other day it occured to me that I have no idea if I’ve actually been on a Slip ‘N Slide or if the disappointment of it is just so palpable that I have false memories. Maybe it rules to other people, but my imagination of how things are going to be is just so overactive that I’m eternally disappointed. My wife hates that about me. It makes me sound like a miserable person, but I swear I’m not. I’m actually an optimist. I just want the Slip and Slide TO RULE SO HARD.

I want it to be Disney World meets World’s Biggest Waterslide meets Log Flume meets SPLASH POOL WAVE LAGOON THING. What is that? I don’t know. I don’t know. I just want it. I want water and thrills and speed.

Instead what I get is a tepid yellow mat in the backyard where the dog poops, some water spraying out of the hose, and a splash pool at the end with bugs already floating in it. And my parents are already mentioning the water bill and the time limit. The water is less like a wild spray and more like a polite water fountain.

Still, in some ways, that would be okay, because I’m also imagining a party. I’m imagining popularity. Having a Slip ‘N Slide warrants inviting everyone we know to the house — all my friends, even celebrities.

Instead, in reality, I have no friends, but at least my sister is there. And my mom says maybe we can invite over our cousins next weekend.

Alright, still, as a child I have extended patience and hope. The thing is not Splash Mountain in my backyard, I have no friends, but the Slip ‘N Slide is still FUN, right? I remember running towards it, hurling my body down, and sliding like lightening speed… right?

No. I remember PAIN. The feeling of hitting the hard ground on my chest, and then sadly scooting myself down the mat until hitting the sad pathetic pool at the end, which is like two inches of water.

I think I remember. Or maybe I’m making this up. Is it a repressed memory? A false memory? Did we own a Slip ‘N Slide or am I just compensating for the disappointment of never having one? Is all of this true, but I can’t fully remember because I’ve blocked the memory out of disappointment?

The Slip ‘N Slide: Iconic, enigmatic, totally stupid.


13 thoughts on “Summer Musing: The Slip ‘N Slide

  1. One of my family’s favorite home movies is from my sister’s birthday party in June 1988. In it, she receives a slip n slide as a present and my parents promptly set it up for all of us kids (me, her and, who else but our 5 cousins) to play in. My parents dutifully recorded slide after slide and everyone of us kids displayed a different technique in our approach and landing. And yet, no matter how hard we tried to feign excitement about the coolest toy to ever appear in our yard, almost all of us got up at the end exclaiming “ow!”, with a distinct look of disappointment. All this to say, that yes – I think your memory of it is spot on but what you wanted it to be was a notion shared among many children of the 80’s :)

  2. There was always still a rock under the slide. You could go over your desired location like a crime scene, there’s still gonna be a rock under there when the water starts flowing.
    The splash pool, though, is an improvement. When I was first introduced to the Slip N’Slide, there was no splash pool. When you got to the end of the yellow, you got to the end of the ‘fun’ too. Off into the grass with you.
    Where there were, naturally, more rocks. And ants.
    No, your memory is accurate.
    It’s not just you; it wasn’t all that much fun.
    But to see the commercials, you thought it would be great. When they did come out with the splash pool?? We had one that was an imitator, it was blue. At the end was a ‘bump’ AND A HOOP that was shooting water at you. I want to say it was called Crocodile Mile.
    You envisioned flying over the bump like the Ferrari from ‘Ferris Bueller’ when the garage attendants take it for a spin, through a hoop of thick surf spray, into the pool of success.
    Alas, the reality is just as you said.

    1. Yeah, Crocodile Mile … I think that’s the one I had … the imitator that somehow also seemed better. I’m actually thinking that’s the source of all my fuzzy memories. Then again, I really don’t remember the crocodile “flair/tassles” that you slide through before hitting the pool … maybe my parents didn’t put that part up, or again, maybe we didn’t own any of this. Oh and yeah, ROCKS. I forgot to mention that, but it’s so spot on.

  3. I agree. You are spot on. I remember that if you didn’t have the perfect, manicured, lawn you would feel every, miserable, crag and bump grinding against your chest and legs as you slid down the slide. Miserable. Give me a sprinkler or a wading pool any ol’ day. But boy the Slip ‘n’ Slide song was sure catchy!

  4. We bought one for our oldest daughter and it was only slightly more fun watching her generation suffer too. Look at the kid’s face on the ad in your post…see how much fun he’s not having either.

  5. We used to have a slip n’ slide that was red and I would have sworn it was called The Hot Dog but after some quick googling that seems like maybe it wasn’t a thing. So maybe my brothers and I just called it the Hot Dog among ourselves because we knew it wasn’t a slip n’ slide. Basically I hated any water activity that left me covered in grass clippings and slip n’ slides were notorious for that.

    1. The Hot Dogger! We had one too! It was a hot dog colored slide with a mustard bottle shaped sprinkle. Boy, it sucked. The edges would undoubtedly cut you up on the way down the thing.

  6. Slip ‘N Slides are tricky. As can be seen in the rest of the comments, everyone remembers them being amazingly brutal. You either a.) didn’t slide enough and petered out halfway through, or b.) slide over every bump and came out bruised.

    Yet everyone used one while growing up. And I’d guess they used one multiple times, despite the pain (now) associated with it.

    I worked at an after-school/summer camp for a while, and periodically we’d have a “water day” with something like this. And damn if the kids didn’t love using them, even if one had to sit out afterwards due to hitting the ground too hard.

  7. You’re married, so that means you are grown now, which means you definitely have a totally different view of the Slip N Slide. No way are you going to run as fast as you can and jump on that thing now. I used to love the Slip N Slide. Woo hoo! Of course, it wasn’t long enough and my siblings always got in the way and we couldn’t run the water forever, and I never could slide all the way to the end, but in those days what else was there to do? And now? Well, I am way grown up and I am not trying to slide anywhere. Instead of bruises I would definitely break something. Thanks for the memory.

  8. That slip and slide on that box is hella fancy. I think mine was just a strip of yellow plastic so that’s not at all an “original”

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