Monday, June 1, 2009

All Wet

My kids have started up their yearly clamor to get a pool, but they've run into an unyielding object standing in the way of their desire: their Dad. There'd be no problem with me getting a pool - I actually will spend money on anything. Just the idea of buying a pool gets the shopper in me kind of worked up: the process of picking one, choosing waterfall features, accent tiles, watching the yard get dug up, filling up the pool for days with a garden hose. You can always get a compulsive shopper to shop, after all.

But the immovable ox that I'm married to has a a lot of objections. Even his objections have objections.

Since he considers himself some type of Olympic swimmer - the Jewish, 54-year-old, three time a week-type of Olympic swimmer anyway - he could never get in his weekly swimming in a backyard pool. No, he must have swimming lanes and bobbing buoys; he's got to fight silently and mentally with the other swimmers who are trying to encroach on his space and, especially, with any swim team that shows up to practice, even if they're children. And there are his other reasons: the money, the money, and the money.

Then he throws the whole question on me: "Ask Mom if she'd swim in it." And the kids both look at me expectantly.

I'm not exactly what you'd call a natural athlete. As a child, if a ball was thrown towards me I'd duck rather than catch it. I spent long hours swinging like Tarzan from the knot at the end of the rope in our gym class in Skokie wondering why the teacher was yelling at me to climb. I had climbed. I had climbed up there, hadn't I?

Same thing with swimming. I never even dunked my head till I was eleven. My mother finally signed me up for a swim class where we were grouped by skill level not age level, so I was with the five-year-olds. One day, the instructor told us to abandon our nose plugs and open our eyes under water. I abandoned the class instead. To this day, to get a really good swim, I need a snorkel and mask. And a wetsuit.

And now there are grown-up reasons not to swim.

For example, when I take my shower each day, the stuff on my head that is supposed to be human hair dries on its own into an interesting, Jewish-type of fur ball. You know when people have naturally curly hair and other people love it and talk them into wearing it naturally? No one's ever said that to me. They call 911. It takes at least ten specialty products to make my hair resemble something that is supposed to grow out of a human being's head as opposed to something that's supposed to grow on a lawn.

There's the bathing suit problem: the fact that there are parts of my body that are not meant for daytime, sunlit viewing. There are parts of me that I can't even stand to look at, and it's my body. And when I get into the water, some of that unviewable stuff becomes flotation devices. My thighs levitate and, if I walk through the water, the fat part of me either stays behind or zooms on ahead. This doesn't actually happen to me on dry land, which leads me to the conclusion that I'm meants to be on dry land.

When we were leaving Chicago for Arizona in 1973 and my father didn't want to tell people all the myriad reasons why we were moving - from the asthmatic child to his own heart attack - all he had to say was that we had bought a house with a swimming pool in the backyard. Boiled down to its essential essence, it became this: we were moving to Arizona to get a swimming pool.

After five years passed, things had changed. There was, unfortunately, no more father; he had died of a second heart attack. And that pool, that wondrous mirage in the desert? It had become a swamp in our backyard, greenish brown, with some type of hissing and bubbling primordial ooze growing in it. Let's put it this way, no one was swimming in it.

So, sorry kids, we can't get a pool. Maybe next year.


  1. So funny!!! I am a Az native and think that indeed you mustnot get a is too hot for a pool!! Loved this!

  2. linda you are so flipping talented. the way you can take something so common (i wonder how many hundreds of families have this conversation in the summer) and make it so funny, relatable and just well awewome.

    loving this stuff lately!