On the lighter side of the Nonahood, this is a column about the humorous realities of life in Central Florida. We must choose to laugh and sweat rather than cry and sweat.
I can’t write about life in Florida without addressing swimming pools. And when it comes to pools, I must first express my pride in the hallowed tradition of butt-bumps. If you have not participated, your life is not yet complete. You and a partner face each other holding hands, drop underwater, connect the soles of your feet, and push with your legs until you both flip backward. If you manage to do all this, you might just achieve the ever-fantastic rump-side collision of delight.
When I see my son giggling and limping around the pool-side yelping, “Who wants to play butt-bumps?” I cannot butt feel proud.
Pools, these blessed bodies of water, frigid in the winter and warm and depressing in the summer. They contain almost as many memories as Band-Aids. As a child, I used to scope the water for sharks. Today, I’ve put childish fears behind me. Sharks are unlikely, but alligators, they have legs. The very day I forget to gator-check, I’ll slip into the pool where they’re holding the annual Ancient, Blood-Thirsty Carnivores-Are-Us Convention. Likely seminar: “Humans might not taste good, but they sure are asking for it.”
My son’s asking for it. Usually a nurturing soul, he discovered that if you catch a lizard, which in central Florida is as easy as holding out your hand and wishing, and take the little guy to the middle of the deep end, the lizard will take off like a primordial torpedo. Yes, this is the same son that prompted his mom to call me at work. “Honey, David’s trying to put a leash on a lizard, but I think he’s choking it.”
In case anyone’s worried, we always help the lizard missile get out of the pool. Which, when I think of what I’ve seen loafing across pools – roaches, horned beetles, yellowjackets, hornets, black widows, worms and the occasional snake – is really no big deal.
Then there’s the way kids approach pools. At any given pool, children can be found coldly taking culture, propriety, and societal norms and shoving them off diving boards into the gaping maws of Krakens. I can hear children’s evil cackles.
I remember whaling, a form of childish play I was particularly proud to have invented. In a word, it’s inappropriate. It goes like this: dive under the water, spew a few giggle-bubbles, pull one’s shorts slightly down until your gluteus maximus is showing, and then slowly roll through the water to the uproarious delight of all your fellow spider-monkeys hopping around on the pool deck. If you’re a child and you’re reading this, remember that, these days, all fun is illegal. You’re likely to be thrown behind bars for stuff like this or at least fed to a Kraken.
When we added whaling to rafts manned by blood-thirsty enemy pirates, the water would churn. If you’re reading this, Jim, I’m still sorry about your eye that time at Grandma’s. In my defense, your craft was drifting perilously close to my perch atop the diving board when you chose the ill-fated words, “Argh, my matey, you’ll never best me on these ’ere high seas.” At least now you have a real eye-patch.
Perhaps my memories of pools are why pool rules read as follows: No child under 12 shall be unaccompanied by an adult. No diving. No running. No food or drink. No horse-play. No poolside reading of Lord of The Flies.
However, we all know that rules are there largely to be ignored and occasionally enforced by hesitant and apologetic security guards. So get out there, find your pool, run, dive, eat like a horse, and enjoy your day in court.
Philip writes for Cru, a nonprofit organization located on Moss Park Road, close enough to the 7-Eleven off of Narcoossee to justify ditching work for a Slurpee. While he thinks he’s funny, he wisely never verbalizes his musings to his two ever-increasingly hostile pre-teens. His brain doesn’t seem to do the heavy lifting in the writing process – his sweaty fingers do. So, if you laugh, snort, chortle or guffaw, they deserve the credit … both of them.