August 25, 2010

The Tube

Who plans and designs playgrounds? Do they have backgrounds in construction, architecture, child psychology? Because I'd really like to shake the hand of the genius who created "The Tube," made popular on playgrounds in the mid-nineties. And by shake his hand I mean punch him in the neck.

If you're from my generation, you'll know what I am talking about. The concept really isn't all that complicated. It's literally a metal tube (usually green) resting horizontally on bars so that you can crawl through it. Seems innocent enough, right? Well, yes, if you disregard children and their need to mercilessly torture one another. For many little kids, this Tube was a site of some horrifying playground atrocities.

One of the favorite pastimes of third and fourth graders was to stuff as many preschoolers and kindergartners as possible into The Tube. They would get two big bullies, known as "Cloggers," to press their butts up against each end, sealing it off from freedom, dignity, and an adequate air supply. Meanwhile, "Collectors" would go around the playground grabbing the little kids by the neck and dragging them toward this cylindrical prison. You could be in the middle of doing anything on the playground when they would spot you and "take you downtown."

Once you arrived at The Tube, The Clogger would move to the side just enough to create an opening so that you could be stuffed in. Once inside, it was very dark and cramped.

Every once in a while, we little kids would organize an effort to break free. I learned that you could grip your fingers on one of the seams where the metal pieces connected and violently swing your legs into the Clogger's backside. As soon as it bumped him forward a bit, little kids would squeeze as much of their bodies out the opening and try to squirm to freedom. The Clogger would then slam his back side into the opening over and over to cram people back inside. I can't imagine why the teachers never intervened when they saw this:

Around third grade, The Tube took on another type of sinister. The Tube was taken over by The Kissy Girls. This gang of tough-as-nails floozies got its power in numbers. Hundeds of them would swarm an unsuspecting little boy like puckering piranhas, drag him into The Tube, and smooch him all over with their cootie lips. It was so bad, the boys had to set up a clinic by the monkey bars, giving out free cootie shots to emotionally and physically scarred survivors.

I did my share of time in The Tube. This concept, so simple yet so complex, changed the lives of millions of millennials forever. What a stupid idea.


Foxy said...

What a brilliant post. I love the "Collector:Millennial" size ratio.

Idiot said...

Blerg! I meant "Clogger: Millennial"

David said...

Ah yes, "The Tube" (or as I like to call it, Tetanus Torture Town). A very well know piece of playground ornamentation (aside from home-schooled kids who could only look out the window and wish they were getting butt-crunched into T3).