At this time of the season I watch as swimming pools are closed and covered. The crisp air reminds me of all those years I helped winterize the family pool and I find my mind taking a stroll down memory lane.
In the late 70’s I distinctly remember my mother returning from the hair salon. She strutted around as proud as a peacock with her new hairdo. Working as a teacher, mom had the summers free and spent a good amount of time in the pool. On this particular day, my good mother decided she needed to lounge in the cool, still waters of Lake Guyatt with a gin and Fresca. Dad had found two of those huge truck tire inner tubes so mom figured she would float along without a care. I can still see her positioning herself on the slippery rubber and in an instant she was gone as her entire body fell through the hole with a swoosh. After rising to the surface there were a few coughs, sputters and curses with a ruined doo.
However, the incident that can still cause me to break out into hysterics is the famous diving display. I begged, pleaded and coached my mother to dive just one time in the family pool. She cautiously walked to the deep end and stood there gathering courage as I cheered her on. Ma took one step but stubbed her toe on the coping and then fell head first into the water with arms flailing. I laughed so hard I may have peed in the pool. To this day I can still hear the sound of her toe cracking against the coping.
My late father does not escape the pool diaries either. My folks were throwing one of their famous shindigs to baptize the new pool. Dear old dad thought he would be hip and cut the corner between the deck and the water. His bare feet slipped on that damn coping and in he went much to the delight of the guests. It seems only fair that he was the very first person in the pool since he was the one who was the builder.
Yours truly was also a victim. My parents went on a trip leaving my sister and me. We were in our late teens and on this one night my sister was out on a date. I called my girlfriend and told her to come over for a swim. Naturally, once in the pool on a hot summer’s night, our raging hormones took over and she suggested we skinny dip. It was erotic and romantic… right up until I got too close to the water return jets. The family jewels shot away from me faster than a Formula 1 car and for a terrifying moment I thought my grapes were now raisins and heading for the skimmer. My girlfriend roared with laughter as I intoned it wasn’t funny with my Mickey Mouse squeaks. Speaking of the skimmer, it was always a horrifying moment when I lifted the lid to discover what rodent or gigantic spider was swimming around. I’d close my eyes and reach in to remove the basket but inevitably would feel something crawling up my arm and I would fling the basket to the bushes. I think I broke several strainers that way.
Cleaning the pool was no picnic either and I used to curse the serpentine hose that attached to the vacuum head. I would spend hours cleaning the pool to perfection only to watch a gust of wind bring a plethora of leaves and other detritus. If I didn’t get the net fast enough the material would sink and I would need to start all over again.
Owning a pool also causes you to discover you have more friends than you thought you did. People I barely knew would show up with their swimming attire. Even worse, we found out later that some neighbours would go for a swim while our family was out. Of course these were the same type of idiots that would drown and their kin would sue us. Like my father always said, “You can’t fix stupid.”
Years later my mother had the pool filled in and an amazingly beautiful garden sits in its spot with flowers, fountains, statues, benches and bird feeders. The backyard is a far cry from the laughter, splashing and raucous pool parties. But in a majestic and heartwarming way, the stillness and tranquility is a monument to priceless family memories.
Ben Guyatt is a stand-up comedian and a published author. Visit his website at www.benguyatt.com and follow him on Facebook. He also hosts The Ben Guyatt Show every Sunday at 9 pm on AM 900 CHML.