This story involves a floppy white hat. Not the floppy hat that you monogram for your honeymoon vacation – the fisherman, Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island, kind of floppy hat. Got a good picture of it in your mind? Great! Now, imagine it soaked in blood.
When I was growing up, my family and I traveled to Myrtle Beach every June. My parents, Meme and Papa, my sister, my great uncle & aunt, my sister and I. Oh! And Bunny – but he’s a story for another day.
We always stayed at a condominium that was situated on a golf resort a few miles away from the beach. That meant I spent more time at the pool than the beach, but that was okay with me. My aversion to sand started early. Another perk to this whole golf course condo set up was the playground that sat next to the tennis and shuffle board courts. Abby and I usually had it all to ourselves, except for that one summer when the bees set up camp there. #nothanks
This playground was majestic to me at five years old. It stood as tall as the fences to the tennis court and was a white, wooden castle in my opinion. It had a tire swing on one side and ladder-like planks to encourage climbing on the other. Then there was the slide. It was a shiny, metal slide that was cool on shady days and burning hot in the sun. I can almost hear the squeaky sound of skin getting caught on it right now.
So what does this have to do with the floppy hat?
One summer I was taking a break from the pool and playing on the playground under the supervision of my dad and Papa. Now, my dad has always erred on the side of caution. I guess being in the life saving crew for all of his adult life kind of rubbed off on him. So when I asked if I could climb up the shiny, metal slide instead of walking around to the ladder like I was supposed to do, he said no.
I’m sure I let out a sigh, and walked around to the ladder and slid down the slide. Only to find out that my dad had walked back inside and Pap was now the only adult I had to convince to let me climb up the slide. A successful bat of my lashes and a syrupy “please, Papa” got me the green light and up the slide I went.
Have you seen the video of the cat walking across a plank to avoid touching water? I’m sure that was what I looked at trying to climb that slide. It was hot on the actual slide part, so I tried my best to stick to the sides and shimmy my way up to the top. I was almost up there when I slipped and fell straight onto the jagged metal edge of the top of the slide. BAM – my chin met the edge and blood went everywhere.
I’m sure there was a look of terror in my Papa’s eyes (though maybe not – he was always a bit of a rebel so I’m certain he thought the whole experience toughened me up a little). The next thing I knew I was in my Papa’s arms and my Meme was at the playground ripping off her floppy Gilligan hat to use as a compress on my bloody chin.
My papa has been gone for four years now. He’s missed meeting boyfriends and my sister’s wedding. He’s missed college degrees and new jobs. He’s missed meeting his great grandson and my many failed attempts of trying to tell one of his jokes. But I’m sure he’s looking down us like that day with the slide – encouraging us to take a few risks because what is life if you don’t get a few scrapes and bruises along the way?
Oh, and I didn’t need stitches the day of the slide incident. They slapped a bandaid on it and took me to the Super K-Mart and bought me a 3 foot tall Lampchops stuffed animal. Perks of being the baby of the family. 😉