Still A Pool Rat

D and I spent most of the day today at a pool, at the invitation of a friend and her daughter. When she said it was at a “golf club,” I feared the pool would be filled with snooty, uber-thin women with gold bathing suits and tanned, tiny bodies alongside men people called Biff and Thad, with expensive boat shoes and plaid shorts. Thankfully, it was nothing like that.

I went to camp when I was really little, but after about age 12, unless you were going on to be a junior counselor, camp was done with you. It was then that I joined the pool up the street from my house. It was really hard for my mom to get the money together for the pool in the ensuing years, and as soon as I was old enough to get a part-time job, the money I made went towards paying half the membership, which I didn’t love, but which was a good lesson and I worked hard to get that money.

My summers were spent basically entirely at the pool. I was on both the swim and dive team, though the latter was really what I loved, and I had to walk up there (my myself! the horror!) super early for swim team practice, which was often cold and cloudy, and followed by dive team practice. Then the pool would actually open, and we’d spend all day swimming, playing and eating junk food from the snack bar. Around dinnertime, I would walk home, and sometimes eat dinner and then go back – especially if someone was having a pool party, which they often were. It was exhausting and wonderful. I never heard of sunscreen, my hair had streaks of red-blonde in it from the sun and chlorine, and there were parents around who all knew who the kids were and sort of kept an additional eye on them, in addition to the lifeguards, who were often older siblings of people I was on swim or dive team with.

This was a very humble, downscale pool. Everyone was really friendly and the woman who runs the place with an iron fist also lifeguards and teaches swim lessons, and she knew every kid’s name there, including mine, within the first hour after we arrived and didn’t hesitate to yell their name and tell them to stop running or come over to get a balloon animal made. Because it was a holiday, she had other fun stuff planned, including a coin toss/search (my kid is still so little he couldn’t even stand in the deep end, but she put a bunch of coins on the stairs going in for the really little tykes to find), a balloon toss contest, and, lest the adults feel left out, a beer toss, where they hurled cans from cases of beer all over the large, L-shaped pool and then we all dove in and grabbed as many as they could. I think that’s as excited as I’ve gotten about getting free Bud Lites since I was dating two different bartenders (with the same first name no less) at a notable bar in Lakewood, way back in the day.

Today was the first day I went off a diving board since the last time I went to the pool, which was probably about 1985 or 1986, I’m guessing. My son was amazed. Then he directed me and my girlfriend and her sister, from his poolside stance, to have a contest to do different tricks in the water. Back somersault. Front somersault. Stand on your hands. Handstand and then turn around underwater. Then he commanded us to “swim backwards” so we did a length of backstroke (I’m proud to say I kicked ass, but boy will that shit make you feel out of shape), and then we did breaststroke back.

We ate cheap hot dogs and potato chips. He got a Ninja Turtles spiral notebook as a door prize just for showing up, and he was swinging his balloon sword back and forth and running and jumping happily the whole way to the car. My eyes are tired like they get from opening your eyes underwater, and I have a slight sunburn even though it was cloudy a lot and even rained briefly.

It was a proper way to end summer, and a good day.


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