Bernadette and I have joined a social club. I’m not sure what I’m doing in a social club, except to say that I was unable to find any anti-social clubs in the area. And, even if I did, I suspect it would host few events and the two or three people who actually attended them wouldn’t talk to one another. When pondering this decision, a famous line from Groucho Marx twirls in my mind: “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”
The group is actually a pool and hunting club. I worried before joining that the two activities are co-mingled. I imagined heads bobbing up and down in sparkling pristine waters and children frolicking at play, while hunters ringed the hillsides shooting at them. My concerns were quickly allayed: Swimming in summer, hunting in winter. I’m not much of a hunter, and I do not own a gun. I do own a fabulous set of steak knives, but doubt the deer of our beloved woodlands have much to fear from me chasing after them with my trusty Henkels. Come to think of it, my experience in handling firearms is limited to filling a clown’s mouth with water when the carnival comes to town.
So, needless to say, I’ll be spending most of my time at the pool. I’m grateful we joined because the pool is absolutely gorgeous, and the weather this summer has been brutal. Most summers we have a few hot days, but this year heat and its best buddy humidity have propped their feet up on the coffee table, grabbed a bowl of chips and decided to stick around for a while. Unfortunately, our air conditioner decided to make them feel at home by blowing hot air. At least the air conditioner will be useful come December.
Penelope adores swimming with a wild abandon that, as a parent, is both wonderful and terrifying. She loves playing blind man’s bluff with girls her age and Ninja with some older boys. She also enjoys Marco Polo; unfortunately, whenever she hears “Marco” she will respond, even if she’s not playing. One afternoon she was yelling “Polo” from the picnic tables.
She tries to dive by cupping her hands above her head and jumping belly first into the water. She is dying to touch the bottom of the pool and to jump from the diving board.
When Penelope and I arrive at the pool I marvel at how many friends she has made. As we hurry down the grassy hill toward the pool, I can often hear some child’s voice shout “Penelope!” or “Penelope’s here!” It reminds me of Norm walking into Cheers.
Then, wearing her bright yellow floatie, she’ll jump in the pool. With her head bobbing in and out of the water, she’ll swim toward a group of laughing children.
I lean against the cyclone fence and take it all in. The children splashing and playing games. The adults chatting; dark sunglasses hiding smiling eyes. A beach ball flutters across the buoys that divide the shallow end of the pool from the deep. The colors here are so crisp and vibrant: the shimmering blue water, the deep green leaves of the trees as they sway below billowing white clouds. I am convinced it’s impossible to feel unhappy at a pool.
Well, until somebody pees in it.