Hello, Loyal Readers and other bored people who may have stumbled upon this blog for lack of something better to do. I suppose if you’re reading this on the porn machine . . . errrr . . . laptop that your company loaned you when you got hired, you probably have very little choice when looking to fill a few of the inevitably monotonous, duplicative moments in your day when that little voice inside of your head literally screams at you demanding an answer for the choices you’ve made in your career. Incidentally, that’s the same voice that makes you say aloud after a night of debauchery and poor decisions that you’ll never ingest an alcoholic beverage again. Regardless of the reason you’re here, I appreciate your readership. I’ll try to entertain.
Before I get to this week’s subject, I want to thank my dear friend, Lincee Ray, of www.ihategreenbeans.com fame for posting a rebuttal to my last post regarding the Golden Fleece of chick movies, The Notebook. Her points are all well-taken and her words, as usual, were entertaining and insightful . . . dead wrong . . . but entertaining and insightful nonetheless.
It appears that our little volley has spawned a rather large desire for another He Said/She Said post relating to female oriented movies. Lincee and I are currently trying to decide on one chick flick and one guy movie to review. We’ll get back to you. “Thanks” again, Lincee, for posting my underwear picture . . .for the third time. Actually, if you count the time you stuck it to the file cabinet in full view during your video blog segment, it’s the fourth time. The regret that fills my heart when I think about agreeing to a bet with a wager like that after a few too many Lone Stars is hard to describe. Props to you for winning, and props to you for rubbing it in. I’ll give credit where it’s due. Now let’s get to it.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been a bit sad lately—even despondent. Believe it or not, that edginess is fertilizer for my usual reality posts because is shortens my patience and sharpens my tongue. However, it’s not so conducive to fostering tiny, happy buds of humor from the depths of my brain and nurturing them until they blossom into perfectly formed anatomy jokes. In short, between that and the mountain of legal work I’ve had over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit dry in the idea department. How do I handle it, you ask? Well, I suppose I handle problems like most people: denial, finger pointing, and alcohol. I find that all of those work effectively alone or in combination.
These moods never last for me; although every time a period like this descends upon me I often think about people I know who struggle with the darkness in their lives on a permanent basis. Going where there is a lack of light and color is a necessary place to go sometimes, but it’s an awful place to pour a foundation and build a house. Note to self: Pray for those people in my life tonight.
As is my custom when I’m uninspired, I go to reader emails. If I ignore the messages about The Notebook, I’m left with a lot of emails asking me to tell another funny story about my childhood. It occurred to me that I’m like a modern day Uncle Remus to some of you. After some thought, I recalled a good one . . . a really good one. For the record, this will probably be the last childhood story post of this off season. I don’t want to bore you with details of my sophomoric escapades any more than I have to. On the other hand, the feedback from the My Sex Scandal post was phenomenal. So, in the spirit of that post and just in time for the warm weather, here is another story involving that now infamous community pool.
Now, if you’ll recall from my Sex Scandal post, I lived in a relatively small town about 26 miles North of Houston. For those of you who lack the skill to use Google Maps, I’ll also point out that Houston is about an hour away from Galveston Island. When we got sick of waterskiing in the filthy, murky waters of Lake Houston or looking for snakes in the equally disgusting San Jacinto River, we would inevitably plan a road trip to the beach in Galveston. Sure, I would have preferred to go to some exotic location like Belize or perhaps Hawaii. I hear the island of Guatalottapoontang is nice this time of year. Trust me, that one is on my Bucket List.
As I grew older and got my license, it was not uncommon for me to go down to Galveston to play in volleyball tournaments, try my hand a surfing, or simply dodge tar balls deposited by the oil rigs located miles offshore. Anyone who grew up on the Gulf Coast will tell you that it was always a good idea to wear last year’s bathing suit to the beach because the tar would inevitably ruin it.
The beach in Galveston is far from the white sands and crystal blue water of Destin or Cabo San Lucas, but it was an hour and a half away, it was free and more importantly, it represented the freedom that every teenager craves. During the summer before my senior year in high school—which is when this story took place—my friends and I routinely spread our wings by piling as many of us that would fit into whatever car was available and heading for the beach. It was a great time in my life and, although those trips have undoubtedly been bronzed with romanticism as time has passed, they will always serve as a sign post signaling the end of my adolescence and the beginning of my adult life. That summer was a last hoorah of sorts and, as is Some Guy’s way of life, I enjoyed every moment it offered.
To this day, my closest friend is a guy we’ll call “Ted.” Like MH before him, Ted and I grew up together. We met when we were 8 years old, attended the same junior high school, high school, and college and still manage to see each other several times a week here in Austin. I spent a large portion of my high school career with my bare ass hanging out of the window of the light green Caprice Classic station wagon that Ted inherited from his mother. Mooning was funny then and it’s funny now. I know Ted would agree. Ted is a kindred spirit and he’s been a major part of my life for a very long time. We’re both a lot older than we were when this story took place and Ted has even lost the vast majority of his hair. When the last pool story was posted, Ted and I laughed over a few more a couple of nights later. The following is a true story.
Because Ted was chronologically a year older than me, he was one of the first of our group of friends to get a job and a driver’s license. Ironically, Ted was fortunate (and smart) enough to invest his money so well that he literally retired about 3 years ago. Even when he was 15, he managed to put money away in mutual funds. Sure, he had to drive around town in a green station wagon, but hey, he’s done well enough to buy a fleet of them now. For the record, Ted is probably the only person in Austin who drinks more Lone Star and I do. Granted, he has an extra 40 plus hours a week in which to do it, but he manages to get it done. It’s that kind of dedication that I respect in him. Back to high school.
When he was 15 Ted applied and was hired on as a lifeguard at—you guessed it—our local community pool. The job paid well above minimum wage and allowed Ted to sit atop a lifeguard stand with a whistle and a pair of sunglasses and tan for 8 hours a day. As far as I could discern, his only responsibilities were to announce “Adult Swim! Everyone under 18 out of the pool!” after authoritatively blowing his whistle and stack the pool furniture at night. Oh, and if someone happened to get a cramp, he was supposed to jump in and assist that person in order to avoid having to deal with a drowning. All in all, it was a good gig.
It is important to note that Ted was a bit of an overachiever. He was like Rudy or that one guy in the neighborhood who ruins if for every other guy in the neighborhood because he buys his wife flowers all the time and doesn’t play golf when she asks him to paint something. Because Ted was an overachiever, he was asked by the person in charge of all of the community pools in town, Mike Rowland, to return every year.
I suppose in a position where success is measured by neatly stacked patio furniture and the absence of a floating, bloated corpse in the deep end, it’s not difficult to stand out. After three years on the job, Ted was promoted to the enviable position of Head Lifeguard and given a nice raise. Unlike say, Head Nurse, the title was well-respected and didn’t involve dirty knees.
As we all know, the word “promotion” is Latin for “a bunch of extra sh*t to do,” and the Head Lifeguard position was no exception. As part of his new responsibility Ted was given the closely guarded key to the pool gate and told that he was now in charge of making sure the Opening and Closing Checklists were accomplished prior to anyone swimming in the pool in the morning or any employee leaving at night.
That key might has well have been thrust into a granite rock outside of the entry way like some modern day Excalibur. Apparently, Mike Rowland and the rest of the Homeowner’s Association Board members were under the impression that the six foot wooden fence surrounding the pool was as impenetrable as Hadrian’s Wall or the Great Wall of China. Frankly, the key was irrelevant. At any rate, we now no longer needed to hop the fence in order to trespass at the pool. The big difference was that Ted could no longer risk getting caught.
Life that summer was simple and rewarding. I worked full time at the local country club doing everything from golf course maintenance to fine dining service. My schedule was busy but I was my only responsibility personally and financially and that gave me a lot of time for recreation. My friends and I spent a lot of time talking about our upcoming senior year and generally clowning around.
Speaking of clowning around, I once dated a woman who made a living performing as a clown at kids’ birthday parties. Unfortunately, I had to break up with her. Everything was going well until one night I tried to have sex with her and she twisted my penis into a poodle. I’m certain that joke was worth waiting an extra day to read. I’ll be here all week, folks. Sorry about the late post. Annnyyyyyhoooo . . .
As I mentioned, Ted was a solid 10 months older than most of us and therefore had his driver’s license and, more importantly, a car. Ted’s light green Caprice Classic station wagon was the perfect vessel for us to load up and head to the beach. On a slow day, we could fit 10 people in it and would usually end up taking a couple more people than we should have taken in the first place. Ted was unequivocally the first choice to drive and, God bless him, he never complained about it.
As summer progressed Ted found himself carrying more and more responsibility in the aforementioned Head Lifeguard position. He showed up early and often stayed late trying to keep the other teen employees in line. The famous checklist, which consisted of a couple dozen to do items preceded by a small box intended for Ted’s initials upon deeming them satisfactorily completed, sat perpetually dangling on a clipboard hung from a nail behind the entrance desk to the pool.
“Stack chairs,” “Close Umbrellas,” “Check Chlorine,” and “Replace Toilet Paper in Restrooms,” were examples of the items to which Ted, via his rung by rung, three-year climb up the metaphorical lifeguard ladder, had earned the right to order completed by lesser-seasoned lifeguards who, upon inspection of said items, would be granted reprieve from their duties when Ted mercifully scrawled his initials in the box beside each item.
Ted ran a tight ship and Mike Rowland knew it. In fact, he knew it so well that at some point during the summer, Mike actually stopped showing up at the pool to inspect Ted’s inspection of the checklist items in favor of simply phoning Ted around opening and closing times and taking his word that everything was in order.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The golden whistle bestowed upon Ted’s shoulders at the beginning of the summer quickly turned into an albatross; not necessarily for Ted who was earning decent money and gaining invaluable management and business experience running the pool, making schedules, and generally holding people accountable, but for the rest of us who relied upon him and his station wagon for transportation. It seemed like such a waste to drive the thing a couple of miles to the pool parking lot and have it sit there all day and we routinely let Ted know it.
For most of the summer Ted graciously let the criticism roll off his back and even worked his schedule around a couple trips to the beach. However, as summer went on and his responsibility increased, Ted became frustrated with Mike Rowland’s increasing indifference toward his job as Ted’s boss and his repeated “delegation” (read “dumping”) of responsibility to Ted. In short, he knew Ted needed the money and he took advantage of it. As a result, Ted began to cut a few corners.
For instance, the pool would close a few minutes early or open a few minutes late or perhaps a few of Ted’s friends would be invited to “help” him close the pool in favor of staying a bit late for a few beers in the deep end. You get the picture. Ted was conscientious, but he knew he was being taken advantage of and he didn’t appreciate it. Keep in mind that teenage boys are basically middle-aged men with a constant erection minus a soft midsection and a wife to nag them into submission. Left to their own devices, all kinds of stuff can happen.
On one particular night Ted called my house, which you will remember was less than a mile from the pool, and suggested I walk down and meet him so we could head out for the night. He told me that he’d already called a few friends, including our friend Jeff who lived a few blocks over. We met up, helped Ted and the remaining lifeguards with the checklist, locked the gate, and headed out in Ted’s car to one of those famous three dollar all you can drink keg parties. In retrospect, all of the bad ideas we had as teenagers were spawned at one of those parties.
At any rate, Ted was in an exceptionally foul mood because prior to leaving the pool he received a call from Mike Rowland. Mike checked on the checklist and informed Ted that he needed him to arrive early at one of the other community pools in order to assist the other lifeguards with opening because Mike had chosen to do something other than work at the pool for the weekend. Granted, Mike was Ted’s boss, but giving someone less than 12 hours notice was uncool—at least that’s the way we viewed it on that night.
The night went off uneventfully save the fact that when I was in the upstairs bathroom at the party I managed to find a jar of Vaseline in the medicine cabinet and put a light coat of it on the toilet seat in anticipation of the next user. Sure enough, a few girls entered the bathroom and one of them proceeded to drop trou and place her rear end on the seat only to slide off onto the floor in front of her friends with her pants down to her ankles. I still remember her name, but I’ll have the common courtesy not to mention it here. See, I’ve matured. They only suspected that I was the culprit, but man, did we have a laugh.
The next morning a dutiful Ted arrived at the other community pool only to find the three lifeguards assigned to work that day sitting out in front of a locked gate with their belongings in hand. When Ted asked why they had not yet begun to complete their version of the holy checklist one of the lifeguards let them know that they had discovered an incident of trespass and vandalism that would render the pool inoperable for a full day.
Upon further inquiry and an unfortunate inspection, Ted became aware that someone had broken into the pool and christened it by depositing his own feces into the deep end of the pool. According to Health Code Regulations, the entire pool would need to be closed, purged of the foreign body, and chemically scrubbed. The water would need to be tested and deemed “clean” prior to the pool reopening. Frustrated, Ted supervised as the problem was addressed and, after making a hand made sign with a piece of paper and a marker reading, “Pool Closed Due to Health Code Regulations. Will Reopen Tomorrow. Sorry, Mgmt.,” he called Mike Rowland and let him know what went down. Ted was surprised when Mike chuckled, gave some general instructions, and told Ted to take the day off. An hour later my parents’ doorbell rang and Ted and I were on our way to the beach with a few friends.
For the remainder of the summer we tanned, worked, worked out furiously, re-enacted the volleyball scene from Top Gun, chased girls, and of course, mooned any moving car within sight of us. In fact, we became so proficient at mooning that we actually had names for each carefully executed version of the moon. Let’s see, there was the double moon (that’s self explanatory), The Captain (which entailed the passenger taking the wheel and putting his foot on the accelerator as Ted mooned someone from the driver’s seat), The Rear End (mooning from the giant rear window of the wagon), The Shakey Leg (this entailed actually putting a leg out of the window and shaking it violently in order to create movement in the relevant area), and finally, there were two signature moves aptly named The Dead Squirrel and The Fruit Basket, which are frankly too disgusting to describe here. Ah, memories.
As we neared the end of the summer, a real sense of urgency fell over us. We knew that in just one year we’d be high school graduates planning our move to Austin, Texas in search of higher education and lower class women. When asked, we all feigned excitement and even cursed our parents’ houses in the name of being on our own. However, deep inside we all feared the end of our childhood and we all coveted what remained of that final summer. Incidentally, I find it’s a lot easier to covet something that involves free rent and a tan.
One particular morning I awoke to a knock on my bedroom door. It was my father telling me to pick up the phone. I did and it was my friend Jimmy on the other line. He had arrived for his 7 a.m. shift at the golf course and was calling to let me know that I didn’t need to come into work at my scheduled 9:30 a.m. time because of a scheduling error. I gladly accepted my unanticipated day off and hung up the phone. I suppose today’s equivalent of that phone call is finding ten bucks in my jeans pocket. I immediately woke up my brother across the hall and we called Ted to see about a trip to the beach.
Ted answered the phone and I told him about the recent developments in my otherwise busy schedule. Regretfully, Ted told me that he was walking out the door at 8am to head to the pool for a day of head lifeguarding and checklist management. Unimpressed, I implored Ted to find a way out of his shift.
Remembering the incident that occurred at the other pool a few weeks earlier I offered a solution. “Just call Mike Rowland and tell him someone took a dump in the pool. He’ll close it and we can go to the beach.” Silence filled the air as Ted’s brain processed all of the permutations of making that phone call. Sensing that Ted was slowly but undoubtedly falling off of the metaphorical fence in my direction, I said nothing.
“F*ck it. Alright. I’ll call you back,” he said and hung up the phone. I lied back in bed fully expecting an “I’ll pick you up in 30,” phone call within a few minutes. God bless the over reactive bureaucrats at the Texas Department of Health, I thought as I slid back into a satisfying half slumber only to be awoken by the ringing of the phone before I could fade back off to sleep.
Instead of negotiating a pick up time, Ted let me know that he had some bad news. In a nervous voice Ted said, “I told Mike that someone took a dump in the deep end and he told me that he wants me to meet him at the pool in thirty minutes.”
Another detail about Ted: He doesn’t panic. When we were in college we were once at an Elvis Tribute show on Elvis’ birthday at a place called Pearl’s here in Austin when the Elvis shrine in the back of the bar caught fire and the entire place literally went up in flames. As the crowd and the Elvis impersonator fled, Ted and I instinctively (and foolishly) jumped behind the bar and filled two buckets of water and proceeded to douse the flames. As the fire grew out of control I turned around to see the entire place filled with flames and smoke and my brother making his way back into the bar through it all like Kurt Russell in Backdraft to get Ted and me out.
I ran around to the front of the bar and toward the exit with my brother. Ted actually stood behind the bar calmly and after perusing the selection, grabbed a bottle of Macallan Scotch before strolling toward the door. The place literally exploded in flames minutes after we left and as my brother and I stood in the parking lot giving an interview to the local news crew, Ted sat in the passenger seat of my car patiently awaiting a ride home while sipping 18 year old, single malt scotch out of a bottle. Back to the pool.
“What are we going to do?” Ted asked knowing he was about to meet his boss in order to hunt for a non-existent human turd. It was at this point that I had a stroke of genius. “Let’s call Jeff,” I said.
As I mentioned earlier, our friend Jeff lived literally within sight of the community pool. His parents’ house sat on a neatly manicured corner lot just yards from the trail we rode our bikes across as children in order to get to the pool. It was not uncommon for us to retire to Jeff’s parents’ house from a day of swimming at the pool in order to have a snack and play some video games to escape the heat of the day and the stinging of the chlorine in our eyes. Jeff was a regular passenger in Ted’s wagon on our various trips to the beach and also our mooning excursions.
Embracing technology, Ted clicked over on his line and dialed Jeff’s number before clicking back over and putting me on the line. After an inordinate amount of rings, Jeff’s sleepy mother’s voice offered a weak and confused, “Hello?” on the line. Keep in mind that it was now approximately 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.
“Hello, Mrs. C---, it’s DP and Ted. Is Jeff there?”
Our hearts raced as we fought the urge to order her out of bed and into Jeff’s room.
“Uh, who is this?”
“DP and Ted. Can you get Jeff? We want to see if he can go to the beach? Sorry about waking you up.”
With that we heard the phone get put down on what we assumed was her nightstand and heard her rustling to go and wake Jeff. Moments later, Jeff picked up the phone and in a combination of comatose sleepiness and flabbergasted anger asked us what in the hell we wanted. I took the lead.
“Hey Jeff, good morning. We’re going to the beach. Do you want to go with us in about an hour?”
“Uh, yea. I gue. . .”
“Great. Listen, I need you to get on your bike and go take a dump in the deep end at the pool.”
“Yea. Jimmy called from the country club and let me know that they were overstaffed for the women’s golf and brunch thing and that I didn’t have to work and then I got excited and called Ted and told him that it would be a wonderful idea if we could grab a few friends and pack up the car and head down to the beach because after all we’re teenagers with no real responsibility and no wives to nag us into submission and really how long can that possibly last since we’re going to be graduating next year and heading to our respective schools and in fact if I’m not mistaken Texas Tech has recently approved your fairy tale of an application and Lubbock is eight hours from Austin so this is technically the last real time we’ll have to spend together as friends but anyway Ted and I made the decision to call Mike Rowland and tell him that someone took a dump in the pool so Ted could have the day off and we can take his car to the beach because it’s sunny and hot today and the refreshing feel of the saltwater on our skin would bring joy to our young faces even though there is tar in the water and trash on the beach but Mike Rowland didn’t believe Ted’s Someone Took a Dump in the Deep End story and called his bluff by telling him that he needs to meet him in 30 minutes which is now 20 minutes and counting at the pool in order to confirm that there is in fact human feces in the deep end before making the executive decision to shut down the pool for the day in light of the existing statutory provisions contained in the Texas Health Code thereby giving Ted and more importantly his car the day off so we can go to the beach so we need you to get on your bike and ride to the pool and hop the fence and take a dump preferably in the deep end but wherever you find it convenient to do so and then sneak back over the fence and go home and pack your bag for the beach.”
Forty five minutes later I sat on the edge of my bed awaiting news of the success or failure of our hastily hatched plan. Anxious, I stood up and went downstairs to grab a bite to eat and as I made my way down the stairs into the foyer of my parents’ house, I heard a car horn honk and simultaneously saw the welcome site of Ted’s bright green Caprice Classic station wagon pulling into my parents’ driveway. I stepped out the front door as Ted and Jeff exited the car with huge smiles on their faces. “Grab your stuff,” Ted said. “We’re going to the beach.”
There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction a person feels when a plan comes together, is there?
Well, there it is: another true story from my teenage years. It’s amazing to me how the details of that time in my life come back to me as sharply as if the events happened just yesterday. In a way, I suppose they did. As always, thanks for taking the time to walk down memory lane with me. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed retelling it. Until next week, take care of yourselves and have a Happy Easter weekend. I hope the Easter Bunny brings you everything you asked for. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be at the beach. DP