Summertime is my favorite time of year for a million reasons. First of all, I hate winter. So any day I get to spend dripping with sweat instead of driving through snow is a good one in my book. Secondly, what’s not to like? There’s baseball, cookouts, fireworks, backyard games, shorts and sandals, beaches, bikinis, drive-in movies, ravenous bugs, devastating hurricanes, sunburns, heat strokes—well shit, it’s not ALL good, but I stand by my statement. And then, of course, there’s the all-time great summer pastime:
Everyone loves to swim (even if you don’t, yes you do). It’s so popular, in fact, that the demand for this beloved hobby led to a meteoric rise of indoor swimming pools in first-class hotels beginning around 84 million B.C., according to historian and paleontologist Agatha Bixby of New South Wales (don’t look that up). And I’m no exception. Ever since I was a tot I’ve loved wading in the water and getting chlorine in my eyes and wondering why it’s warmer in that spot over there. So I decided to give the local pool a visit last week when it was hotter outside than a bonfire in Barbados.
I hadn’t been to a public pool in ages, so my first task was trying to remember all the things I needed. Sun screen? Check. Flip flops? Check. Iron Man swim trunks? A little tight (a lot tight), but check. My old Ren and Stimpy beach towel? Double check, bitches. I was ready. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.
Except I couldn’t find my fucking wallet again. As panic and fury began to rise through my diaphragm, I—oop, found it. It was under a pile of laundry on the dining room table. I should put those away. Anyway, I grabbed the wallet, put the laundry back on the dining room table, and shot out the door.
When I got there and stepped out of the dingy locker room and into the balmy summer sun, the pool was just as I remembered it. The bright blue sky. The crisp sounds of water splashing and children laughing and self-important lifeguards whistling their whistles at the minorest of infractions (I’m a writer, so I’m allowed to make up words like “minorest”). The straight edges and ninety-degree angles and flat surfaces of this geometric masterpiece encased in cement and filled with gallons upon gallons of liquid paradise. The feint smell of urine. Ah yes, I was back on Cloud 9.
I couldn’t wait to get in the water. My forty-year-old face burst into a psychopathic grin. I flung my Ren and Stimpy towel haphazardly on the muddy grass. I kicked off my sandals in opposite directions. I shoved my fat hands through my bright orange floaties. I yanked my “Weird Al” Yankovic t-shirt over my head and let my pasty white gut spill out over the waistband of my Iron Man trunks. I didn’t care how I looked, nor about the lady who picked one of my flip-flops out of her macaroni salad; it was time to get swimming.
I ran to the edge of the pool, cupped my mouth with both hands, and bellowed, “CANNON BALL!” Then, as lifeguards whistled at me with desperation and moms in one-pieces gasped at me with pure terror in their eyes, I jumped. As I pulled my legs up and tumbled through the air, I realized I couldn’t get my knees as close to my chest as I could when I was nine, nor did I feel as weightless as I did at that age. Then, while squeals of fear filled my ears and my momentum pulled my ass out from under me, I looked above my head and saw, printed in bold black letters on the outside edge of the pool, the words “AGES 0-2 ONLY” and realized in one horrifying millisecond that I was about to crash land in the kiddie pool.
“Oh FUUUU—” CRUNCH.
NO, I didn’t land on any babies. Relax. That crunch was just the sound of my tailbone being jammed up between my shoulder blades. All the moms and babies and toddlers survived unscathed. And yes, they were all moms. I don’t know where the dads were. I didn’t ask questions. But they did. Like, a lot of them.
“What the hell are you doing, you fucking lunatic?”
“Can’t you see there are children in here?”
“How old are you?”
“Are you insane?”
“Didn’t you see the signs, dipshit?”
“Can I give you my phone number?”
Apparently, it was more important for these really mean ladies to scream at me and ask weird questions than to help me find medical attention or where my swim trunks ended up. But I couldn’t blame them too much for being cranky; it was pretty hot out.
I sat up, writhing in pain, and looked around slowly. All the splashing had stopped. There were no children laughing. No whistles whistling. Just staring. And not by a few people. By all of the people. It was completely silent except for three babies crying and a dog barking in the distance. Sounded like some kind of terrier. Then a young male lifeguard with a spray tan and a guy chunky older bald guy with a polo shirt pulled me up by the armpits. Chunky Polo Shirt said, “Alright, buddy, let’s go. Out.”
I looked at him and said, “But what about—” then Spray Tan Lifeguard slammed me in the naked nuts with my Iron Man bathing suit and said, “Here, dude. Gross.”
As they escorted me back to Ren and Stimpy to collect my belongings and then led me toward the exit, the curious onlookers all around erupted into applause. And as I walked sheepishly back to the dingy locker room, the thought occurred to me..
Maybe it was pretty good cannonball after all.
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