During a particularly boiling-hot summer, the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia characters went to several lengths to cool off in any available pool. I found it hysterically funny for the measure of desperation. They endured the public pool which contained broken glass and Danny DeVito throwing in a greased watermelon for sport. They tried to join an exclusive private pool where the attendant insisted membership already reached capacity even though it appeared pristine and empty. Others tried to renovate an unsalvageable pool and became stranded when the ladder was thrown out of the abyss.
Each year, I smile at the township’s registrar and gladly fork over my local pool’s membership dues. I love swimming; the fresh, chlorine smell; the refreshing, great exercise; and the possibility of meeting new people. For me, joining the pool and enjoying all its benefits outweigh any cost.
Blissful, sense memories from cooling off in a wet, turquoise expanse flood my mind. I rarely enjoyed backyard sprinklers, hating the stray pieces of grass that would cling to the bottom of my feet. As a toddler, my family joined our local pool. I learned to swim there and could safely walk a short distance to the pool.
Despite the myriad of rules, the pool was a fun and exciting place to spend a hot summer afternoon. Four aquamarine pools equipped for all ages and different types of swimming including lounging like tea bags, playing games, and swimming laps. Excitement heightened when the diving towers opened where you sliced through air into deep sapphire waters. We challenged each other to jump off the towers — I braved the first tower; my sister the second; and one courageous friend dove off the third which still makes me shiver with fear.
Attempts were made to replicate the Nestea Plunge which showed a person drinking a glass of iced tea, jumping backwards into a pool and creating a big splash. Minus the iced tea, we’d curl up on the side of the pool and try to throw ourselves into it although not to the extent shown on TV. The lifeguards would have commanded us under their chairs for that crazy stunt.
One drawback I recall was that in order to use the bathroom, you had to wear flip-flops or risk the damp, slimy, cement floor, wet from patrons who dripped from their swims. Everything seemed wet in a very unpleasant way. We avoided it whenever possible. And, I’m sorry; we occasionally peed in the pool…
The Pool as a Mom
The first day I visited my local pool as a parent, I was recovering from a late night concert where I screamed too loud and found my hearing compromised. Before selecting a seat near the baby pool, my son, age 2, raced unto the diving board to leap off; my daughter, age 5, wrested her hand away and ran. Neither could swim, and I, for all intents and purposes, was under the weather. While suffering acute embarrassment over my children’s behavior, we left immediately. I spent the rest of the day, tearful and angry, wondering how to simultaneously enjoy the pool and watch them.
Major draws to our pool were a few good-looking, tanned lifeguards, young enough to be my son if I was “16 and Pregnant.” (And, yes, over 18!) I first learned of this “perk” at my son’s swimming lessons when another mom whispered that she was enjoying the “eye candy.” I hysterically laughed and blushed at our mutual admiration. Women of all ages hung around the pool, hoping for glimpses of potential “Baywatch” hunks. How could a mom saddled with the job of watching her young not look?!? It was a welcome distraction, especially when the kids acted up or unreasonably asked for another Ring Pop at the snack bar.
I would love to own a pool, but I’m not prepared for the massive responsibility, maintenance, and quality control issues one entails. I don’t want swarms of uninvited guests, begging for a dip, or worrying about the state of the liner or how much chlorine is enough or if the fence will keep out innocent, wandering children; small animals or even potentially criminal vagrants like a friend encounters. If we lived in a more tropical area, I’d insist we own a pool. I’d swim laps and spend every waking minute by the pool. Some say I’d eventually take it for granted, grow bored of the monotonous laps and experience sunstroke of the non-physical variety.
Although I adore swimming pools, my money is well-spent at a community pool until my husband changes his mind!
M.B. Sanok is a South Jersey mom and a blogger for JerseyMomsBlog, where this post originated.