As I sat outside last night, watching untitledson and the neighbor kid perform dive bombs into a kiddie pool, I thought to myself that it was never this hot when I was a kid. Heat is my kryptonite. Maybe after years spent in the a/c, I have permanently damaged my molecular structure and I’m now incapable of withstanding even the slightest uptick in temperature. Or maybe I’m just a wuss.
I wonder how anyone survived in heat like this before the days of air conditioning. What if I had been born in, let’s say, Laura Ingalls Wilder days. I would’ve been one grumpy bitch in my bonnet and prairie boots. Why, I bet this is why Mary went blind. Maybe she saw Half Pint soaking her snatch by the banks of Plum Creek. See, there is nothing good that can come from this heat, people.
When I was I kid, I remember going to the pool from 1-5 pm, and then back from 7-9 pm every single day of the summer. My hair was white, my skin was brown, and my swimsuit was in a perpetual state of fade. The pool was a block from my house, but it always felt like those cool blue waters were a million miles away.
It was in that pool that I finally learned how to do a flip off the diving board, after what had to have been hundreds of back flops. Then someone told me to pretend like you’re doing a somersault. I could hardly believe it. All the lifeguards cheered — even the cool one who had corn rows in her hair like Bo Derek. From that moment, I knew the pool made everything possible. At the pool, everyone was allowed to play freeze tag — even the dirt bags, who earned equal standing compliments of the chlorinated water.
I’d see the older girls changing in the dressing rooms and wonder what that stuff was between their legs. How gross, I thought as I tried not to stare. I hoped that I’d never grow up and have to deal with the likes of that. These were the days before SPF, and nothing smelled sweeter than Hawaiian Tropic — save for the strawberry scented Suave shampoo that so many of the girls washed their hair with in the showers before leaving for the day.
Once every couple of weeks, I would find a quarter at home in between the sofa cushions or on my Dad’s night stand. I’d stash it away in my plastic coin purse — the one I got from the bank that looked like a red lemon. Looking back, I’d say it more resembled a vagina, and I wondered what the old men who worked at the bank were thinking as they handed them out to little boys and girls. Any quarters I found I would save for the rare post-swim pop.
With my hair combed back and my skin tight from the chlorine and sun, I’d tie my towel around my waist, slip on my black flip flops, and weave my way through the crowd of hooligans who had gathered around the machines as they always did at this time. The quarter in my hand meant I had business to tend to, and I was invincible to their taunts. I’d drop a coin into the machine and wait for my Orange Crush to make its way through the surly catacombs. It seemed like forever, the time it took for my pop to make its descent.
In the background, boys in jacked-up cars would cruise by with the likes of Loverboy or Tom Petty escaping from their open windows, providing the official soundtrack for summer. They would wait for the lifguards to get off duty, and would squeal away with them into the night. I wondered where the lifeguards went and what they did, and I was always relieved to see them the next afternoon.
Sometimes, I’d bring my pop home, lay out my beach towel on the sofa and sit there next to Mom — close enough where she could reach out from time to time and stroke my hair. We’d sit there together in silence, watching Charlie’s Angels or Hart to Hart as the sun went down. Summer afforded a kid such luxuries. I felt such love for her then, as she did me. Sometimes I wonder where that love has gone, and I ache for those golden moments where I was her little girl and she was the grown-up — without the faults or shortcomings I resent her for now. I guess they are gone forever — along with 25-cent pops and shoes called thongs.