Prelude to the Damp War:

I bet you didn’t know that the mastermind behind the Super Soaker was Dr. Lonnie Johnson. And guess what? Dr. Lonnie Johnson is a flippin’ nuclear engineer! You know who else liked nuclear technology and weapons? The G.D. Soviet Union.

At the height of the so-called Cold War, which occured way back in yester-year, the Soviet Union scared the living shite out of the American people. Because of this, school children were well-versed in the radiation fighting powers of their desks and satellite surveillance paranoia was socially acceptable, and rightfully so; because guess freaking what? Soon after the Nuclear Arms Race began the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had stockpiled enough nuclear missiles to blow up the entire world (I’ll bet my Mini Cooper that there still are enough to do that)!

That's a totally helpful drill.

Thankfully, instead of blowing us up, over the ensuing three decades the Soviet Union blew something else; its money – on weapons, spaceships, satellites and probably vodka as it worked its citizens to the bone and drove itself and its satellite states into destitution. Then – all sorts of anticlimactically – in the early 90s the Cold War thawed once and for all* as the Soviet Union met its “official” demise.

*arguing this point is for another day.

An important fact that many historians fail to note, however; is that at this time another figurative war was brewing. No, it wasn’t the War on Drugs, the War on AIDS, or the War on Poverty – ok, a couple figurative wars were brewing, but I digress – I call this war the Damp War, and oh what a war it was!

The Damp War Gets Damp.

For me the Damp War and the Super Soaker Arms Race began on my sixth birthday – August of ’91, and it was scorching hot outside! After weeks of exposure to incessant Super Soaker advertisements, I fixated on the only birthday gift that I desperately wanted: the Super Soaker 50.

The Super Soaker 50!

Yup, I was the first on the block to have a Super Soaker, and I enjoyed several glorious days of uninhibitedly spraying the crap outta my older brother and his friends*. For once I had the upper hand against their water balloon bombardments, and there was no stopping me and my air pressure technology nor was there any doubt that I was the Super Soaker power on Old Farm Lane – sweet victory.


*I also quickly discovered that drinking water from the Super Soaker, keenly accented with that scrumptulescent plastic-y taste, was just short of orgasmic.

The Damp War Gets Wet.

But, just like the wielders of the original iPhone were shortly out-awesomed by the iPhone 2, I soon had present-receiver’s remorse as newer, more blast-tastic Super Soaker models popped up all over my cul-de-sac. How was I supposed to contend with the Super Soaker 100? After all – ‘100’ meant it had twice the soaking potential! (post continues below the video)

Remember that commercial?

The Damp War Gets Soaked!

The following years brought some serious advances in water gun technology, which had every kid in my neighborhood stock-piling their Super Soaker arsenal. My brother was the first to acquire a Super Soaker XP (Xtra Power) gun.

The Super Soaker XP 70!

Since his birthday was in February he had a slight advantage, but I was prepared thanks to an important birthday party reconnaissance mission. Still my worst fears were realized as I watched him unwrap the XP 70. How was I to keep up?

Luckily I had read Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book so I knew the solution – upgrade! As the summer of ‘95 approached and the Super Soaker advertisements infiltrated my Saturday morning cartoon regiment, I found my response in the form of the Super Soaker XP 95. As an insurance policy, I also procured a belt that carried two spare Super Soaker barrels to reduce time spent refilling at the hose, AKA the great equalizer. I was locked and loaded for the rest of the summer.

Super Soaker XP 95 Baby!

The Damp War Gets Super Soaked!

Unfortunately, by the time the summer of ‘96 rolled around the Super Soaker CPS (Constant Pressure System) was introduced, and the soakers had gotten so strong that a good blast to the eyeball could probably have blinded one of us. Also, just like the Nuclear Arms Race resulted in there being enough nuclear missiles to blow up the world, the Super Soaker Arms Race resulted in there being enough high-powered water rifles to throw the entire East Coast into a major drought. And it did*.

*Actually it was the fact that it barely rained for two years straight.

I was again at the mercy of my late August birthday. By June my neighbor was already sportin’ the CPS 1500, which was a real doozy since its water blast never faltered as the gun ran out of pump juice. Plus the blaster could pretty much destroy any XP model soaker!

Super Soaker CPS 2000!

Meanwhile my brother had acquired the XXP (Xtra, Xtra Power) 275, which had a flippin’ lever instead of a trigger! They also didn’t have to remove the barrels to refill anymore, which provided a distinct advantage during battle: I’m sitting there trying to fill my three tanks and reattach one to my soaker with minimal ammo loss while the boys are blasting the crap outta me at the hose. What the hell?!

Obviously at that point my XP 95 was totally dwarfed by the other guns (I might as well have had a freakin’ Super Soaker Piston) so I soon upgraded yet again – to the Super Soaker CPS 2000, which seriously demolished everyone around me.

The Damp War Gets Dehydrated.

Yet something was wrong. The soakers had become so powerful that, even with my own revolutionary mega-soaker; I was still getting completely drenched every time I entered the battlefield. It was shocking. Yes, MAD – Mutually Assured Drenching – had reared its ugly head. We all soon realized that the Wet War had become a war in which there could be no victory. Besides that, Super Soakers had gotten insanely expensive and our parents had pretty much had enough. Oh, and that draught I mentioned got a whole lot worse so we weren’t allowed to play with our Super Soakers anyways.

This is an actual picture of our neighborhood during the draught. No joke.

Sadly these factors perpetrated the infamous demise of the Wet War and the Super Soaker Arms Race, and by the summer of ‘97 we had instead focused our attention on building a sick fort in the woods behind my house.

Yet there are many important lessons that I like to think we all learned from our Super Soaking days: never settle for second best, waste not your ammunition, the more barrels the better, and, most importantly – it can really hurt, a freaking lot, to get blasted with H2O.  

Ich bin ein Super Soaker.


For all the information you could ever want to know about Super Soakers, check out this website.

And just for kicks, watch this old Super Soaker advertisement. I don’t think I need to make any comments about why it’s hilarious…


About erinobrien26


4 responses »

  1. LC says:

    You are my HERO.

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