By Silvia Josipovic
PENIS WEED COITUS VODKA CRUISERS. Controversy was never my strong suit so that is, unfortunately, as scandalous as this article gets. But now that I have your attention, I should very much like to tell you of a magical place. A place where the sea meets rolling green plains and where a giant pirate ship sits marooned on the shore. A place where children frolic freely and adults are catapulted back to their glory days. This is as good as the Neverland J. M. Barrie envisioned.
I am, of course, referring to the St Kilda adventure playground. Everyone has heard of it. Everyone, it seems, except me. For most, their first time would have been in their formative years. Maybe you were four or five. Maybe it was the summer holidays. Maybe you were strapped in the back seat of the car, ice cream in hand, whining throughout the 40-odd-minute drive.
I was 19 going on 20. It was an unseasonably warm winter’s day. It was also my birthday. I had my best friend at the wheel and was nursing an existential crisis in lieu of the ice cream.
“I’m taking you somewhere where we can reclaim your youth,” she declared.
“Mm-hmm,” I mumbled solemnly, taking in the scenery. Industrial sites gave way to dirt which gave way to salt lagoons which gave way to more dirt. The freeway was unnervingly quiet for a Saturday. I’d never ventured this way before and I was certain I was going to die. We were surely going to be greeted at our destination by a machete-wielding copycat Ivan Milat.
I managed to contain my anxiety attack long enough for us to pull up in the car park, whereupon I was greeted by a majestic sight. Slides that wound themselves around a giant wooden castle; a flying fox that stretched seemingly from one end of the park to the other; and the pirate ship, MY GOD THE PIRATE SHIP. This is a place, I thought to myself. This is a place, and my parents never brought me here. The only logical explanation is that they didn’t love me. But I had plenty of time to wallow over my deprived childhood on the drive home.
It occurred to me as I ran clumsily across the uneven terrain that I was not appropriately dressed. But I wasn’t going to let some stocking-and-skirt ensemble stop me. I did it all. I had no shame. I stumbled aboard the ship and assumed my rightful position as Captain. I crawled through muddy tunnels and up decaying wooden stairs. I glided down slides; static itching at my legs, only to be met at the bottom by a line of disproving glares. FUCK DA POLICE! I screeched mentally, running for the flying fox. The long line was fostered by a number of queue-cutters, but given it is socially unacceptable to screech at children ten years younger than you to get to the back of the line, I was forced to internalise my rage. The wait was worth it, I decided, as I soared rather ungracefully through the air. The salty breeze whipping at my hair, blisters blossoming on my hands, muscles screeching from years of neglect. I was youth. I was joy. I was a little bird that had broken out of the egg. And it was pretty damn awesome.