Archive for July 8th, 2007

Cool Pools

Everything I’d ever heard my mother say came rushing back. An unintentional tribute to being raised as a germ-free Catholic. Athletes’ foot. Psoriasis. Urinary tract infection. An attack by a Candiru. Strep throat. Ear infection. Had there been anti-bacterial cleaning products at the time, our house would have been shrouded in the amber glow.

The air-conditioner couldn’t keep up and by the fourth day of 100-degree temperatures, I needed relief. I considered one of the city’s hotels, but with the price tag of nearly $100 I had to find Plan B. I needed water. A swimming pool.

I’d seen it while out bicycling; The City pool near my house, one of ten that my tax dollars support. Growing up, the cool blue waters of the pool at Longfellow Park played host to the neighborhood families during the sweltering days of Minneapolis’ summer. My sister and I were prohibited from joining in and were relinquished to the shallow blow-up pool that could only remain in any given spot for a few hours, an afternoon at the most, for fear of ruining the grass. Never mind the days without rain, the grass must be protected.

As an adult, I really couldn’t pull off splashing around by myself in a blow-up pool. My image had to be protected more than the grass. It was already like straw. I’d always suspected my mother’s anxiety over public pools was misguided, so I slipped into my flip-flops, crushed a towel into a plastic grocery bag and headed over, checking, just in case, that my insurance card was still where I’d left it.

The fifty-cent admission had been waived due to the excessive heat, and kids of all ages jumped and dove. The adults, the few that there were, gathered in the center or sat at the edge, feet in the water. Loud, excessively LOUD music blasted from a speaker incapable of handling the bass, but the water was now within inches and nothing else mattered.

Except for one. While I carry a Scandinavian surname, I also carry a sweater of abdominal hair from the eastern-European Lacoste collection given to me by my maternal genome. I always hesitate, just for a moment, before removing my shirt.

A baptism of relief as my body and mind cooled. A few backstrokes through the water and within seconds, I felt renewed. The anguish of oppressive heat vanished. Lifeguards kept watch and reeled in the occasional unruly child. Every thirty minutes, or so, a whistle blew and the kids leapt out, leaving the waters more calm for the adults.

I realized that this facility was playing a vital role, as kids and adults, alike, took refuge from the heat. Social and cultural difference leveled, we were all there for the same reason; relief. I wondered of the social consequences if it weren’t available. Social unrest increases as the temperature rises, and this pool, like the nine others throughout the city must certainly keep the spikes off of the statistical charts.


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