When I visited my family in Texas, my mother would often have water pistols on hand to keep the kids and adults occupied while the holiday dinner was being prepared. One year, I remember a new and more dastardly water gun appeared on the scene in the form of a Super Soaker, shown here in doodlewash. This king of water guns uses manually-pressurized air to shoot water up to 50 feet with surprising power and alarming accuracy. With only my usual tiny and properly named “squirt” gun in hand, I unknowingly stepped into a family battle I was destined to lose.
When this little baby first hit the market in 1989, it was called the Power Drencher, which is a rather horrible brand name so within a couple years it was rebranded and sales started to soar. The relentless firehouse effect of water spray and ability to precisely target your victim is also the key to its overwhelming success. Needless to say, if you aren’t the one holding this little guy, you’re the one who is about to unceremoniously drown as your brother-in-law assassinates you while maniacally giggling.
I’ve never really understood the exact rules to a water fight whether it’s with guns or balloons. Perhaps the complete pandemonium and lack of a rule book is all part of the fun. But without some sort of goal or purpose, I always found myself lost during these “fights” and eventually just wet and bored. But I have to admit to marveling at the power of the Super Soaker and wanting to give it a try. By the time I was able to pry it out of my brother-in-law’s hands, however, people were already done being hosed by the thing and the entire yard emptied. So I was left taking sad little potshots at tumbleweeds.
Though our family was late to get the Super Soaker, it was most popular in the 90’s. This was both because it was a hot new item and also because Michael Jackson cited it as his favorite toy saying, “if you come to Neverland, it’s a rule that you’re about to get wet.” Fast forward to 2010 and we have images of Vice President Joe Biden getting soaked on the white lawn.
But, perhaps the weirdest and most disturbing part of the Super Soaker’s history is the questionable and short-lived release of the Oozinator, a gun made to look like an alien creature that squirted either water or a white, slimy substance called “bio-ooze.” This was quietly discontinued by Hasbro but not before going unintentionally viral because of the hilariously disturbing television ads.
These toys are fun little reminders of what a weird and wonderful world we live in. Though I’m not likely to be joining in these water fights again any time soon, it’s a fun memory to recall. If you ever do find yourself in the middle of this type of family fun, I do recommend going for the best if you want to “win.” Be sure to grab yourself a Super Soaker and you’ll be ready to become the next reigning champion and strike fear into the hearts of everyone you love.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Azo Yellow, Sap Green, Cobalt Blue, Azo Orange, Pyrrol Red, Cobalt Teal and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal