The Pasty, Overweight Man’s Guide to Water Parks

My family went to a wonderful water park at Wisconsin Dells this Spring break. It was undeniable fun, and we all had a great time. Unfortunately, as a self-consciously pale and overweight man, I had to face a few personal demons in order to have a good experience. Here is a short list of my suggestions for my bigger, paler male friends to enjoy themselves while rocking a completely uncomfortable outfit.

Leave plenty of time to get a new swimsuit

If you are large and an uncomely shade of bleached peach, you may avoid swimsuits as much as I do. Do not assume that your old swimsuit will fit you. Fortunately for me, I tried on my old suit a week before we left on our trip.

My old swim trunks fit perfectly… over one leg. Apparently my old waist used to be the diameter of my current thigh. Did my old self actually eat food, or did I subsist on compliments and air?

No matter. I found a local retailer that sells swimsuits in inches instead of M – L – XL sizes, and after confirming that my waist size is a large multiplicative of what it once was, I was on my way for a week of watery fun.

Control your mental dialogue

Once at the waterpark, pale and resplendent in my new trunks, I found it critical to control my inner voice. For example, while tubing in a large, funnel-shaped attraction, I suddenly pictured a large marshmallow being flushed down a toilet.

Now is that a helpful way to think of one’s self, especially when one is on a water ride after half a pizza and two beers and is already kind of sick? No! I recast my thoughts to imagine myself as a smaller marshmallow in one of those little spittoons next to the dentist’s chair. Much more complimentary.

When I emerged from the ride, I tied a towel around my neck, let my magnificent gut hang forth, and christened myself Captain Pasty, defender of larger dudes with crippling body image issues.

Big dudes rule in the wave pool

My nine year-old son’s favorite attraction was the wave pool, which is a nice name for “Terrifying Generator of Temporary Tsunamis.” During the break times, the wave pool is a nice, calm, zero-point entry pool with lots of floating merrymakers awaiting the next cataclysm. Then an ominous horn sounds, the eight (yes, eight) lifeguards on either side of the pool stand, and all hell breaks loose. Huge waves roll forth, and a frothy mess of humanity is bashed into one another.

Sharing a float with my son, we were quickly surfed out to the shallows with the great-grandmothers and toddlers. This would not stand! I hopped out of the float, and bullishly drove the craft through the maelstrom and back into the most violent whitecaps, leveraging my weight against the pounding waves. I’m not gonna lie; I felt straight-up Poseidon-like out there, and my son whooped and hollered with delight.

Could a ninety pound pencil-neck have done that? If so, don’t tell me. My mental dialogue is on a roll.

Pale is in

As for my unnervingly pale skin… well, I’m a Minnesotan. As I stood in the water park full of Midwesterners on holiday, I felt that our collective reflectivity rivaled a square mile of polished aluminum. The building should have installed solar cells on the ceiling to profit from our glow.

Yes, I haven’t seen the sun in eight months and I’m pale… but I was also in good company, so that was much less of a concern than I thought it might be.

Fun for all ages (and sizes)

If you’re like me as a person of generous weight, reflective skin, and self-conscious disposition, you don’t need me to tell you that we should all make healthy choices in life. But I do hope that, on your journey, you get to enjoy a water park at least once regardless of where you are on the weight scale. There’s a place out there for bigger dudes (and dudettes), and we should be proud whether we’re holding fast against the pounding waves or being flushed helpless down an undeniably toilet-like water attraction.

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