Adventures in Good Ideas: Sledding

There’s this thing called “sledding” that people sometimes do when it gets cold enough to freeze your dog solid and a few inches of snow happens to be covering the ground. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. I’m sure many of you have even participated in it at some point in your life. Nothing beats memories of your parents dragging you to a large hill when you’re barely old enough to walk, and then pushing you off of it on a small plastic board at fantastic speeds. It’s where every good childhood scar starts.

whee

I, personally, haven’t really gone sledding much in my life which is why I am informing you on the topic. And the only reason I’d consider going now is to simply try and hurt myself and the other people I’m with as much as humanly possible — which is exactly the mindset I was in the other day when my friend, Ronnie, asked me if I felt like dying. I replied with a swift “god yes” and the deal was done.

A Brief Example of Why I’m Scarred For Life

Like most kids, my parents took me sledding a couple of times when I was smaller. I think I was close to something like eight or nine or some shit. Basically that age where you’re like “EVERYTHING IS NEATO” and you have no fear of anything on Earth, because you have yet to see the consequences of most things that would hurt you. Anyway, this is how I was. Little did I know that my world was about to come crashing down when my dad suddenly asked me if I wanted to try it out. I, of course, said yes. Do I regret my decision now? Yes. Yes I do. Still to this day.

Now, before you start throwing that whole psychological shit at me proclaiming that something is only as bad as you make it out to be, know this: My family was poor as fuck. And no matter what anyone says, that makes a HUGE difference in terms of how much you can enjoy your childhood. Like when I went swimming and had to use other people’s swim trunks. Or watching other kids go on vacations to cool places like Disneyworld, or Six Flags, while our vacations culminated with a trip to the mall, where I could look at things that I COULD NEVER OWN. My Dad never helped either…

Dad: See that toy?
Little Jeremy: YEAH IT’S COOL!
Dad: Yeah. Well you can’t have it. In fact, just go to the car and sit there until we come out.
Little Jeremy: :-(

Sledding was no different. Because of our measly income, we weren’t able to afford the most basic thing that you actually need to go sledding with: a sled. Now you might think that not having a sled would defeat the whole purpose of ever trying such a thing. You obviously have not been poor. Poor people will not stop doing something just because they lack a vitally important ingredient. No, they will improvise and use the worst possible things ever to get the job done. God forbid I not participate until we could save up a few years and buy a six dollar sled. No, we didn’t need one apparently. We had motherfucking garbage bags.

Now, common sense will tell you very quickly that going down any type of slope in a small bag is not a good idea. Last I heard, the Mafia does it when they want to kill someone, not when they want to show someone a good time. But my dad, being the pioneer in stupidity that he was, saw nothing wrong with this idea, and was positively psyched about the whole plan. And so was I. You could have told me I was going over the edge of a volcano in that garbage bag and I would have probably pissed myself in excitement.

Not surprisingly, once we arrived at the hill, we were the only people using such a device, and I must admit that there was a fair amount of embarrassment in having my dad shove me in a garbage bag and roll me around in it. I’m sure all the other dads got a good laugh from it at least. I was still pretty excited — until I was pushed down the hill for the first time. It was pretty haggard from the millions of kids going down it already, so putting me in an ultra-thin garbage bag and being pushed down it was about on par with having a heavyweight boxer punch me in my ass every second or two. Needless to say, my first impression of “WOO THIS IS FUN”  quickly turned into “I NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL” moments later. My dad, not understanding what it sounds like when his own child has broken his hip in thirty different places, tells me to quit being a baby and enjoy myself. I don’t really remember much more of the day.

 

Finding Someone to Endure Pain

As I understood from experience, if someone wanted to go sledding, it meant that they expected, even wanted to get hurt really badly. So any time I was invited to go along with anyone, which was increasingly infrequent, someone did indeed get hurt really badly. Most people did not enjoy going sledding with me, as they just didn’t appreciate a well-delivered clothesline as they came down the hill. You just can’t do this activity alone, so a friend was needed.

ronnie

This is where Ronnie comes in. If you’re unfamiliar with him (and of course you are), then you should know that we fully expected him to die before he turned thirty. He generally doesn’t care what happens to him. You could hit him in the back of the head with a crowbar, and after a few days in the emergency room, he’d probably get up, disparage you, and then ask if you wanted to play Mario Kart. It’s all in a day’s routine for him. So naturally this is the guy to go sledding with. Now, it’s just a matter of finding a place to sled in this godforsaken town.

 

The City Made of Flat

Next, we had to find a hill suitable enough to go down. And since our fantastic city (Indianapolis) is about as flat as a fecal pancake, this is no easy task. Scientists will tell you that this is because a big assed glacier sat on the Midwest a billion or so years ago, and depending on what season it is, appears to still be here. Yes, EVERYWHERE is flat. As you can imagine, we are short on scenic views. OCCASIONALLY you might see a small hill, but it’s usually a long-dead bum covered up with newspapers. And as far as I know, dead bums are not quite large enough to sled down. To get you to understand just how desolate and flat this goddamned state is, let’s look at a Brief example:

yuck

Okay, that’s how the entire state looks. Plus or minus a few buildings. Notice the sheer amount of suck. Now, to bring it up to date for the winter, let’s add snow:

frrrrrt

Bingo. Welcome to Indiana. Not exactly a sledder’s dream.

There is one exception though. A park nearby whose name escapes me at the moment is home to Indiana’s only hill. As you can imagine, this place gets pretty fuckin crowded when winter comes along, and at times even has to be crowd controlled by the police. The slope isn’t all that spectacular, but it gets the job done for sledding. We were able to find a small space near the edge of the slope, where we were surrounded by about one thousand small children who all looked on at us in sheer terror.

 

The Art of Sledding

I’ve long since graduated from rolling down a hill in a black garbage bag, so I was able to actually bring one of those inner tube sled things, which according to the box is actually supposed to be used for water. This can still be useful for when I get adventurous in my bathtub, but for now, it’s gonna be used for a sled. It also has the added benefit of being colored bright yellow and purple, so no one will have any trouble seeing me, as I’ll be the brightest fucking thing in the city. It should also be noted that we both almost died blowing those motherfuckers up since we didn’t have an air pump.

Sledding isn’t quite as simple as what most four year-olds suggest. This is because small children have the benefit of not being extremely large. They glide down the hill rather effortlessly, since they weigh about six pounds total — unlike Ronnie and I, who could probably be referred to as fat adults. We really didn’t fit our sleds very well, which according to the boxes, were meant for the ages of 6-15. Things get a bit trickier when your ass is larger than the damn sled, and your legs stick out a good three feet. This meant that we were constantly at the mercy of anything that stuck up more than a millimeter from the ground, since one slight touch of my foot to the snow could turn my sled into some incredibly ugly purple and yellow spinning vortex of doom.

My first attempt down the hill started out fine. At least until my sled decided to turn around and somehow make a 90 degree turn, almost running straight into a small girl and her father, who was looking at me like he was close to breaking my spine in two. Ronnie meanwhile, lost his sled entirely and rolled down 80% of the hill on his back, much to the terror of a small boy waiting at the bottom of the hill who was watching his world come apart around him as a large adult with his pants around his knees was coming ass first down a hill straight for him at about 50 mph.

lol

After a few successful attempts of going down the hill without hurting ourselves too much, we decided to try a few advanced maneuvers like slamming into a nearby pine tree, and running into each other as we climbed back up to see which one of us would fall back down first. It was like some kind of extra sad game of American Gladiators.

Actually, now that I think about it, the hill itself was our undoing. Even though it was relatively small, and not at all steep, you must remember that I usually laugh at ground that isn’t paved with floor tile or cement. And my general view on stairs is that if they’re not motorized, then there’s no use climbing them. So after we had gone  up that small hill more than once, thanks to our previous physical conditioning which consisted of opening our car doors and occasionally standing upright, we were ready to just lie down and accept our cold fate. At one point, I think after the third time I climbed that bitch, I had to sit down because it felt like my entire lung system was going to burst through my rib cage into a steaming pile on the snow. It was at that time that I made a brief mental note to never, ever stand up again. I quickly forgot about it though as Ronnie accidentally drop-kicked me in the face.

Once we finally got the strength to push ourselves back down, it was more like watching a couple of dead, flailing bodies that someone had flung down a hill. We had no strength to fight back, or even use basic safety measures such as “cover your face to avoid brain damage” and “don’t land on your neck.” At least the other people seemed to enjoy the whole spectacle of trying to guess which one of us would be able to get to our feet first. We agreed that if we made it back up the hill alive, that we should probably call it a day, and go home and wait for our hearts to explode.

 

The Wet Painful Ride Home

There’s a point when your body realizes that you should be finished with hurting yourself, and decides to let you realize just how much pain you’re in. You would think that falling on something that’s generally considered soft, such as snow, would not cause my body to feel like it had just been trampled by a wild hog. Ronnie noted that his thigh was badly bruised, and he couldn’t walk well on his left leg. My chest was throbbing after I was clipped and landed directly on my chest and face, minus my arms though, since god forbid my camera get wet. I couldn’t feel my feet and hands for a while either, and my left hand got a nice bit of frostbite on it from constantly digging my hands into the snow to try and stop me from slamming into solid objects. In the end, was it worth it? I’d say yes. But frostbite is much more annoying than I previously imagined it would be.

crumpled heap

So now that it’s all over, and the pain has subsided enough for me to once again move my neck without falling on the ground and screaming through my nose, let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of sledding:

Pluses:

  • The chance to slide down a hill on some plastic at high speeds. Most theme parks charge you MONEY to do this
  • The possibility of injury is almost certain (this may be a negative depending on how big of a weenie-child you are)
  • Depending on how old you are, the ability to totally frighten other children and parents

Minuses:

  • It’s cold
  • You have to climb back up the hill if you want to go down again
  • Frostbite sucks my ass.
  • I think Ronnie may have died

 

And so there you have it. A long… very long… look at sledding. I’m still not a big fan of it after all these years. But it’s always nice to have an excuse to call into work the next day.

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