It was the summer that swimming pools became a thing. Looking back now I don't remember who got theirs first. But for a couple summers we all had them. Oh, not the fancy pants, in ground pools, the folks in Oak Park had, um no. These were above ground.
It went something like this...
Someone got a pool. That person was immediately the most popular kid in our world. I say they got a pool but I say that knowing now as an adult that the kid, didn't actually purchase the pool. It really didn't matter, because the adults were pretty inconsequential to us. Now what fun is it to have something cool and amazing if you can't prevent other people from enjoying it too?
Oh wait, you thought I was going to say, 'what fun is it having something cool and amazing if you can't share it?' Silly, foolish child! You must have grown up in an alternate universe.
Perhaps you don't know the bliss of being the only kid on the block with a new friend magnet? Well it's sweet. Or so I hear. I was never the kid on the street with a shiny new magnet. I was the other kid. The one kissing up to the kid with the new toy.
On our street cliques changed like the forecast in the Ohio Valley. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute. Best friend and arch rival were relationships statuses separated by the narrowest of degrees, subject to change and volatile. The real truth was that we were all as thick as thieves. No literally we stole things, well, just the car, the one time but I digress. We all loved each other almost as much as we loved our own families. We would have done anything at all for anyone else, but at the same time we bickered and argued like siblings, without ceasing.
Where was I? Oh the pool. The parents assisted in torturing us less fortunate kids with their ridiculous grown up logic like, only 2 friends in the pool at a time. Oh that's going to help you win friends and influence people whilst simultaneously getting your kid on hit list. Or my favorite it's for the grown ups, or grown up swim time. As if. They don't even swim right. They don't swim at all, they float. That's all they ever did, they floated. I never saw one of them swim, and the moms never even got their hair wet. I never saw them play Marco Polo, which is like required swim play. Sharks and Minnows? Not once. Did they make whirlpools, belly flops, dive contests or splash wars? no, no, no and oh hell no. Pools were wasted on adults.
Tell me right now in 2 seconds what is the big deal if you have grass on your feet? You know they are going to spend 2 hours the next day fishing beetles and mosquitos out of it, what's a little grass? And for the record if you didn't make us take breaks we wouldn't be running around in the yard barefoot getting grassy feet. I still mark as one of my life's greatest betrayals, learning "You can't swim for 30 minutes after eating" was a myth. Evil.
One kid got a pool and then another kid got a pool because the first kid wouldn't let the other kid swim in it. And on and on it went, until almost everyone had a pool. Except me. We had an 18 inch kiddie pool. Everyone else had 3 ft, 4 ft, and 5 ft pools. I had a kiddie pool and a baby brother I had to keep in it with me. A child who actually lost the power of vision when regular tap water touched his eyes. He was blinded apparently when he got wet anywhere on his facial surface. My mom kept a towel by the, eh hem, pool for him. I was always in trouble because it was great fun dunking the towel when no one was watching and then accidentally splashing my brother so he'd run to the sopping wet towel for comfort and aid, only to shriek in horror when the instrument to rescue him from all the wet, was really just more wet. Ah good times. My mother tripping up the steps because she was hosed in baby oil trying to tan, spilling her iced on the deck in a pitiful effort to fetch a dry towel and restore vision to her younger favored child.
The worst part, was that I couldn't have any friends over. There are a multitude of obvious reasons beginning with the unparalleled lameness of my glorified bath tub. None of which were helped by the screaming banshee who lost his mind when the water he was standing in coincidentally touched him, but those reasons, well they all pale in comparison to my greatest shame. The life vest. My mother had given up forcing me to wear it because let's face it I'm difficult. But my brother was powerless against her madness. I wore a full size, boating style life vest to many a pool party as a child, until I learned to repeat things in public (that I ought not repeat I was told) after hearing my mom say them on the phone to my grandma or her friend Nancy. Knowledge is power kids, it's taken me far. I still cannot however, swim. My brother was not as strong willed as I, and thus he succumbed to her stories of children having drown in a teaspoon of water and he surrendered his childhood frolicking in water to her fear of being in the emergency room with everyone thinking she was a bad mother. His aversion to teaspoons is a story for another day.
Kids didn't want to hang out in my "pool" because we were supervised every minute, we had to halt play every 37 seconds for a towel break, and because there was my little brother not getting wet, and wearing a life vest. Our exploits in pool ownership didn't last a season but others did and I learned to be nicer to people. Be nicer because they have a pool and if you make them mad at you, they won't let you swim. I've worked very hard to impart these essential truths to my own kids. Or not.