Friday, February 3, 2023 Feb 3, 2023
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Essay: Fun With Old People

A proposed playground has the neighbors’ gums wagging.
By Tim Rogers |

Dear neighbors: it is with a heavy heart that I write you to address the recent events that have divided our leafy little enclave of White Rock Lake. I’m talking, of course, about the proposed neighborhood playground. If you’re reading this letter, it means you voted against it at the recent homeowners’ meeting. I know some of you are elderly, and getting around can be a challenge. I’m not 40 yet, and I myself hardly feel like going out anymore! So thank you for coming out to make your voices heard. I hope you will take this communication in the spirit in which it was intended, as an olive branch.

First, I blame my frickin’ wife for this whole mess. Awhile back, she came to me and said, “I think we should build a playground down by the creek so our kids and the other children in the neighborhood have a place to go.” Honestly, I didn’t think anything would come of it. How was I to know that she would spend months researching the matter and hounding our city councilman and the Park and Recreation Department until they agreed to pay for and build the thing? I never should have let her take that part-time PR gig, because it clearly has left her too much free time.

At the homeowners’ meeting in the church rec room the other night, several of you made forceful arguments about why a playground would be detrimental to the neighborhood. I totally agree with you. Even if the playground is intended for neighborhood children, its slides and sandboxes will surely attract people from farther afield. And the additional vehicular traffic would, indeed, be more than a nuisance. It’s not hard to imagine a tour bus full of dirty Frenchmen mowing down an innocent neighbor while she’s walking her dog. Or it could be Italians.

I also thought the comment about drugs hit the mark. I’m paraphrasing here, but one of you stood up and said that your adult children had confessed to you that, growing up, they’d gone to a playground to experiment with drugs. This observation resonated with me because I myself did some experimenting in playgrounds as a youth. Have you ever smoked marijuana and tried to swing? Man, I was barely moving, but I swear to you I thought I was going to swing all the way around the top pole!

No one brought this up at the meeting, but not long after I got my driver’s license, I made it to second base with Angelina Wilcox at a playground. A teeter-totter is a powerful aphrodisiac. Especially after you’ve been snorting crank.

Finally, one of you who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years said what I was thinking the other night but was afraid to say: some people simply don’t like children. I have two of them, yes. But just like this playground thing, they were my wife’s idea. The little one screams at me until I remove the batteries from every remote in the house, and she likes to litter the place with my wife’s tampons. The older one has to be told everything at least twice and turns sour when I beat him at video games. They both have dirty feet. I tolerate them in my house because giving them up for adoption would create too much paperwork. The last thing I want is five or six such children congregating down by the creek, getting high, attracting Italian tourists.

Look, the main thing I want you all to know is that just because I’m married to that cloven-footed woman doesn’t mean I agree with her. In the days following the playground vote—90 to 40 in favor? Are you kidding me?—I feel like I’ve gotten some less-than-cordial responses when I’ve driven by one or more of your homes and waved. I don’t want to single anyone out, but the person who flipped me the bird knows who he is. Please, I’m asking you as a neighbor, save your lewd gestures for my wife.

Meantime, I’ll see you in the funny papers!