Public Pools, Microcosms of Life

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday July 19, 2004.

For a really long time, I was deathly afraid to put my body into the public pool. I just thought it was a nasty place to hang out. I had those thoughts when I used to have to take my little brother to swimming lessons in the summers during high school. I watched him float around with all the other little kids and figured I’d never want to hang in there. Then we’d sometimes stick around after the lessons and play in the pool. I hated every minute of it.

Then I got a little more accustomed to it. I took my triathlon class and had to pretty much hang out in a public pool every day for the swimming stuff. I gained a little respect for the way they keep the pools up. I’m not so terrified of the places now, and I’ll even allow my kids to frolick on occasion. We went to a public pool on Saturday for a few hours just to kill some time and tire the kids out. Now, realize that there is some really, really weird crap that goes on at public pools, and some very interesting people that you may run into. These are thinbgs you never notice as a kid, but they become all too obvious to adults:

  • The kid who will talk to any stranger, but gets yelled at by his dad when he approaches another kid his age to try to make a friend.
  • The guy who shows up to swim laps during the open pool hours (they leave three lanes open going teh short way in the pool) then gets pissed when kids cross the lanes to get from the deep end to the shallow lanes. This guy actually talked to me and I told him, much to his chagrin, that he couldn’t really expect people to give a crap about his laps.
  • The jackasses that throw the football around the pool despite the sign that says things of that nature are banned, then argue with the lifeguard when they are told to stop.
  • (My favorite) – The really cool guys who swim around the diving board and just kind of float there with their shades on. What the hell possesses you to wear your shades in the pool? Especially the deep end? And who the hell is going to think you’re cool? The only girls you might pick up there are either 13 and under or moms who think you’re a complete tool for being 25 years old and swimming with your freaking sunglasses on.

These things aren’t exactly worthy of being calles fearsome, but they make you wonder. Like, I wonder if my son seeing that clown with the shades might start to think that shades are the ticket to cool. Maybe they are, but he doesn’t know that yet, so this could shape his life just a bit. Or what if the lap guy screams down my daughter. Will it make her dislike the pool deep down and have her afraid to swim as an adult? And even more thought-provoking, what happens to all these people when they leave the pool. Will the little boy get a scolding, or worse, for talking to other little kids? It all started me thinking on Saturday. I really felt like writing about how you get such a small glimpse at someone’s life, and what that makes you think their entire life is like, but I decided to not worry so damn much about it and talk about how freaking weird the damn public pool is.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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