Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Absent any natural swimmin' holes such as Barton Springs or Deep Eddy, my roommate and I ventured to our Greater Washington Boys and Girls Club public pool over the holiday weekend.

I have not been to a public pool since...well...surely some time in High School. A Marching Band pizza party or something like that, where you sucked in your tummy so much when walking in front of boys it gave you intestinal disorders. It has been so long, in fact, that when the lifeguard blew his whistle and announced "Adult Swim for 30 minutes," I actually got out of the pool. Then pretended like I did it on purpose.

There was a group of young pre-teen girls in the pool. Five or six of them, all probably around 11 or 12. They were screaming and playing Marco Polo (which became "Sean Paul" after awhile. Innovating classic games to include pop culture icons had not occurred to my traditionalist play buddies). Then they started another game, similar to one I had played as a child. In my version, you run up to the end of the diving board and jump. Your friend in the water shouts out a word, and you have to say the first thing that comes to your mind before you hit the water. Sometimes this works and the free association results in hilarious and embarassing slips. More often, as with my sister and I, you just make a sort of strangled yelp and belly flop.

In this version, the girl in the water would think of something for the jumper to say. Then the jumper would run and yell it out before hitting water. Of course, this would not be a fun pre-teen game if they were yelling "macaroni." It has to be dirty. It started innocently enough. I grinned with nostalgia as the girls jumped in the air squealing "I like Kyle Chapman!" But it was only a few turns before these prepubescent girls shocked my frumpy ears by screeching "I like sex buddies!" and "Kyle Chapman makes me horny!" and "I like big dicks!" Lawd a mercy, these girls would have made a sailor blush!

Okay, it was kind of funny, but I started to have the same reaction I get when I'm at a provocative or titillating art exhibit. I start looking at the people around me and become embarassed on their behalf. There were some old ladies, some young parents with toddlers. It was a small pool. I decided these girls didn't really understand what they were shouting exactly, or they would have been more embarassed than to broadcast their secret games in public. And I wondered the inevitable--the thought that always comes when you realize you might be getting older. I thought, "Were we like that?"

I know for certain we were not yelling these things from the rooftops, or diving boards in this case. We were far too shy and embarassed. But I think...I do think the words were there and the curiosity and the gigglings. I was always behind the others in getting the jokes. Or at least I felt I was behind; probably we were all bluffing.

At any rate, for a good public pool adolescence moment, I highly recommend you find Raising Victor Vargas on-screen as soon as possible, or snatch it as soon as it comes to video. I saw it a month or two ago, and it was fantastic.


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