Welcome to a new semi-regular feature: What Doesn't Kill Us...focuses on those toys and games we had as kids which were often somewhat dangerous, but yielded memorable experiences. These toys today, they're so safe that they kind of take all the fun out of things. Back before anyone had ever heard of the phrase "child safety" we had toys that taught us valuable lessons about life. We scraped our knees, had cuts and bruises, and we thrived! I'm grateful to those toy manufacturers who didn't sugar-coat life for us!
First up: one of the most wicked, fear-inspiring water toys of all time: the Water Wiggle from Wham-O!
Wham-O has made many classic toys (Frisbee, anyone?) but the Water Wiggle is certainly one of the most dangerous toys ever developed. Water Wiggle was an innocent-looking length of hose, with a bell-shaped top with a goofy smiling face painted on the outside. You hook it up to your garden hose, and it mischievously dances around the yard, spraying water over happy little children. Or so Wham-O would have you believe.
In reality, this device was a punishing, whip-lash serpent that served as a test of courage in many a neighborhood. As it jerked unpredictably around the yard, there was little hope of evading that hard plastic bell, the one that would slam into your face or chest and knock you flat, leaving you crawling on your belly, trying to escape its hydro-fury!
As soon as a kid (or often, a parent) set up the Water Wiggle in the front yard, neighborhood kids would start daring each other to jump in its path. One contest we liked to hold in my neighborhood was to see who could actually get in the whirlwind of destruction and grab hold of the bell - and no, you couldn't grab the hose and pull the head to you. You had to run in and try to get ahold of that wicked writhing head before you got smacked in the face too many times. Believe me, it wasn't easy, but if you could do it, you could hold your head a little higher that day - that is, if you weren't too concussed from getting your braincase whacked a few dozen times.
Sadly, Water Wiggle is no more. But for those of us who faced its rage, it remains unforgettable.