Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

The Life Aquatic

On Tuesday I spent nearly four hours at Aquatic Park with the kid. A good time, but it’s a strange park.

On one hand, it has the best free play structures in the East Bay: a huge complex of wooden, castle-shaped climbing areas, with lots of slides, bars, bridges, etc. Also swings, sandbox, and so on. The play area is mostly fenced-in, so the kid can run pretty free while I, say, sit on one of the many benches and read a book. It’s also got lovely views of San Francisco, lots of water, ducks you can feed, cool trees, plank bridges across streams, a pier, and other things a pre-schooler finds endlessly fascinating. (Some of it even stirs up my own worn-down sense of wonder: the trees with branches so thick they block the view of the sky, and so long they bend down until they touch the water, creating a sort of evergreen room you can sit in.)

On the other hand, it’s also the area’s major park for anonymous gay in-the-bushes hook-ups, so you have to keep an eye on your kid and make sure he doesn’t run unattended into said bushes, and make damn sure the men’s room is unoccupied before you take your potty-training child in to pee. (The Yelp reviews give a good sense of the park’s, shall we say, complex nature.) Honestly, most of the hook-up stuff is at the south end, while the playground is at the north end, so the worlds needn’t intersect, but I do find it an odd combo.

It was a good morning out, though. The weather kept threatening rain, but the rain didn’t materialize, and eventually the sun came out and it was very pretty for a while. We walked the whole length of the park and back and generally had a grand time. The kid even entertained himself enough at home in the afternoon for me to write a bit. And I actually refrained from playing video games at all. My restraint and self-control are incredible!

Of course, I played video games Wednesday. I’m not some kind of virtuous robot.

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