Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How a Pool Party Incited a Revolution

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How a Pool Party Incited a Revolution

Article excerpt

My sister and her husband bought one of those above-ground pools, the kind you see in the Sunday circulars in the spring. The advertisement shows a full-page aerial view. Father stands beside a barbecue wearing an apron and holding a big fork. Mother floats leisurely on an air mattress. Brother is about to toss a beach ball to Sister, who dangles her legs in the azure blue water. Neighbor children play in life jackets and a few other adults lounge in deck chairs holding drinks, slices of lemon stuck to the rims of the frosty glasses. The ad implies that this is the way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in America.

My sister Karen wanted us to come and pose like that ad. So the whole family came for a barbecue and swim one summer Sunday. It didn't quite work out like the ad. First, they starve the models for a month before snapping those pictures. We looked like a herd of white walruses stranded at low tide.

And what are you supposed to do in those above-ground pools besides lie on an air mattress sipping iced tea? Brother-in-law Tom, who'd never seen the pool advertisements, jumped right in. He gathered up a bunch of "noodles," hollow rods of floppy foam used for floating. He stuck them over the end of the circulating pump nozzle and created a mega Super Soaker - until the water pressure blew holes in the sides of the noodles. (They don't show that in the ad, either.)

I jumped into the pool after Tom blew out all the noodles and stopped spraying people. The water seemed too quiet. Lakes and oceans have waves. Muddy farm ponds have water snakes and snapping turtles. I tried power walking counterclockwise. After a half-dozen laps the water was moving in a gentle current.

More people jumped in - several kids from 3 to 17 years old, plus my brother. The wives, sensing danger, stayed out - except Karen. It was her pool. We uncles wondered how fast the water might flow. I grabbed my daughter and pushed her ahead of me like a snowplow. The current increased.

"Everybody grab a noodle and form a circle!" my son yelled. We formed a circle, holding on to the noodles, and pushed the water ahead of us, faster and faster. Around and around we went. …

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