Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Greased What?

[a memory evoked by Sunday Scribblings]

I figure most Americans have heard of a "greased pig" contest, even if they haven't seen one (and fewer have participated). Having grown up in a part of the country where lots of hogs are raised, I did see a number of greased pig events. For those who have never had the honor, allow me to describe. A young pig is, yes, greased up and set loose in an enclosed area. A number of contestants, usually also young, enter the enclosed area and the one who manages to catch and hold onto the slippery beast wins. It sounds simple enough, but holding on is so much harder than you can imagine.

I never tried it my self.
I did, however, participate in a game that is even more rare.

As a teenager, I worked at a small summer camp. One summer the camp moved to a site that we had never used before. The counselors, junior counselors, and counselors-in-training (CITs) arrived a couple of days early for introductions and to set up cabins, to unpack materials and acquaint ourselves with the new-to-us facilities before the campers arrived.

Unlike the previous camp that had a lake to swim in, this one had a pool. We were, unfortunately, the first group to use it that year. The pool was a mess. You couldn't see the bottom, even in the shallow end. Needless to say, we could not let anyone swim in the pool in that condition, it would not have been safe.

A number of us spent a lot of time mucking out the pool during the first few days. We pulled out more leaves than you can imagine, we made sure the filters were kept clean, and we ran the pump 24 hours a day. Eventually, we started to see progress. We kept using the pool vacuum and skimmer, and finally we could see the bottom in not only the shallow end, but also the deep end.

The counselors-in-training, those of us who were 13 and 14 years old, had put in a lot of hours toward making the pool usable. The camp director arranged a treat. We were to be the first to use the pool. We'd have a pool party one evening, with a cook-out and a promise of something special. We were very excited.

Released from our duties helping out with the younger campers, we got into our swimsuits, threw t-shirts over them, and headed to the pool that evening. While one of the supervising counselors fired up the grill, the "surprise" of the evening was announced. We were to have a greased watermelon.

A what? I'd never heard of a greased watermelon.

It turns out that it was a game. It is part "greased pig" (see above), part water polo, and part rugby. We first divided the CITs into two groups: those who wanted to take part in the insanity, and those who were either too timid or too smart. I was part of the first group and we sorted ourselves into two teams. I think there were about 5 or 6 on a side.

Into the deep end of the pool went both teams. Someone had been busy rubbing shortening over the surface of a large watermelon. It then joined us floating in the deep end. The goal of the game was for to get the greased watermelon to our "goal" on one side of the pool, while trying to stop the other team from doing the same.

Cue the chaos.

It was a blast, but it was very, very, very, very tiring. And in the effort to stay afloat, one has to kick. When we all converged on the watermelon, we unfortunately kicked each other as much as the water. And although the watermelon couldn't wiggle the way a pig can, it also had no appendages to get a grip on. It was just big and round. And very, very slippery.

I don't remember much about the game other than that it was a lot of fun. I think one team eventually scored, but it didn't matter which one. We were ravenous by then and happy to call it quits.

A great time was had by all. And there was another, unadulterated watermelon that had been held in reserve. It made a delicious dessert.


gautami tripathy said...

I learnt a few things from this post. Thanks!

Smooth flow of words...

Rob Kistner said...

Enjoyed the post... That sounds like an absolute blast! ;)

Beautiful Witch said...

I think I might have to go grease me a watermelon and give it to my nieces and nephew in the pool. That ought to occupy them for a while!

Great post - I could definitely see the visuals of the watermelon game, and the cleaning out of the pool. I love it when hard work is rewarded. :)

sister AE said...

Gautami - I'm always happy to share what I know. Thanks. I did a Google Image search of "greased watermelon" and it turned up a lot more pictures than I would have thought.

Rob - It was a lot of fun. I'm glad you like it.

BW - Me too, thanks. I think I was lucky to be rewarded for effort a lot when I was a kid. Perhaps that's why I what my colleagues call "an overdeveloped sense of responsibility."

I did a Google search of "greased watermelon" after I posted this and discovered that some folks have actually written up explicit rules for this kind of thing. Personally, I think the no pushing anyone underwater is about all that is necessary.

Clare said...

This was fun to read -- and I will never look at a watermelon the same way again! This is something I want to try one of these days. Well done!

Patois said...

Oh, of course there would be detailed rules somewhere out there. Sounds like you had moments to remember.

sister AE said...

Clare - thank you.

Patois - once I started writing this down, I remembered more details than I thought.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

The idea of greasing a pig seems terrible to me and very much in the catagory of Animal Abuse! Much better with an inanimate object like the my way of thinking...I am amazed thatthe Camp Owners would let their "pool" get so filthy that it would take days and days to get it into shape.....Pool Cover, anyone?

I'm here from Michele's today and it is lovely to Meet & Greet you!

sister AE said...

Hi, OOOLOTH. (That was fun to type!)

The pig thing is definitely "old-school" and un-enlightened.

The camp-site was only rented to us one single year - the pool was only one of many problems. It relocated again the next year (and stayed there for a few years before ending up back where it started for a number of years after that).

Watch for a visit from me - I'm in a blog-reading kind of mood.

mckay said...

here via michele's...
i participated in greased watermelon games as a kid - the the newport bay on july 4th every year. it was a tradition. thanks for reminding about something i had completely forgotten about!

sister AE said...

mckay - hi, there and you're welcome. i hope your watermelons were even half the fun we had with this one.