• Terry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Cold Day in the Playground

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

Winter was magical when I was a kid. Being outside, even during a bitter cold Winnipeg winter was where we, my brothers and I, wanted to be.

We were still living in our Jameswood Drive house so it was before 1965.

Even though the playground was full of snow, we went there. The teeter-totters didn't teeter or totter very well but the swings still swung although you had to keep your feet stuck out in front since the snow was so high under the seats, if you tried to tuck your feet under, they would hit the ground and you would be pulled out of the seat and you would do a face plant...believe me I know. The sandbox was a snowbox and that didn't hold much appeal since the snow was everywhere. But then there was the monkey bars. 

In the playground in the centre of Liester Square, the monkey bars rose like a skeleton. Its round bones were red bars that curved inward at the top, meeting in the centre with a red metal ball, like a big cherry. I've always loved cherries.

"Race you to the top!" I don't recall who issued the challenge, me or one of my brothers, Mark and Robin, my younger brother Paul would have been too young yet to be out playing in the snow. It might have been one of our friends, I only remember Mark and Robin being there. Doesn't matter, the gauntlet had been dropped and we rushed to the challenge.

I don't know if you have ever tried to run in a snowsuit and galoshes, the boots that you pull over your shoes, but it isn't easy. Climbing with thick mittens isn't any less challenging. I was first to the top and, while I waited for the rest to catch up and declare me the king of the castle, I savoured that big red cherry.

I couldn't resist sticking out my tongue to get that taste of victory. Do you know what happens when something moist touches something that is more than double digests cold?  Right, it freezes.

By the time the dirty rascals reached me, my tongue was firmly attached to the red ball and I was no longer a happy winner.

It hurt. A thousand tiny knives were jabbing my tongue and I couldn't hardly speak: just try talking with your tongue sticking out. My solution was for someone to run home and get a glass of hot water. Being so young, it never occurred to me that the water would be cold by the time they got back. It also never occurred to me to just cup my hands around my mouth and breath. This would have resulted in the tongue thawing.

No one seemed to understand my predicament, in fact they seemed to find it quite amusing. Such is how brothers tend to treat each other, gaining enjoyment from the other's misery.

Well, I wasn't going to stand there all day so I just pulled until it pealed away. That hurt too but at least now I wasn't attached to the monkey bars and I could talk enough to lambaste my brothers for not coming to my rescue.

They responded, "If you weren't so stupid, that wouldn't have happened. Everyone knows you don't stick your tongue on cold metal."

What liars! Until that moment I hadn't known that. Why hadn't someone told me? What kind of brother doesn't tell their siblings about things like that. At least I learned it that day and it only cost me a layer or two of skin.

Being a better brother than my two older ones, I recall letting my younger brother Paul know about the perils of sticking your tongue onto something cold. It went something like this on another blistering cold day.

"Paul, stick your tongue on this."

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