Thursday, August 2

Pool Ponderings

I'm a pale person. This is a fact that I came to accept at a young age. Perhaps this serves as some kind of excuse for why I found myself so perplexed two weeks ago. I was going to be a bridesmaid in my good friend Kelli's wedding, where I would be wearing a halter dress with a low back. In honor of my well-tanned friend, I decided I should - perhaps for the first time in my life - try to lay out at the pool.

My first attempt was a complete failure. It rained on me.

So four days before the wedding I tried again. It was a weekday afternoon, so it wasn't too crowded. A woman was on the far side of the pool and a younger guy sat next to the entry gate. I took a chair a comfortable distance away from the guy and tried to settle in.

The problem with laying out is that I get so hot. Yet this seems to be the point. I brought some books and some writing to work on, in an attempt to distract myself from the blazing heat. Soon two girls came in, taking two of the chairs between me and the guy. Keep in mind, it's not crowded. There were any number of chairs they could have chosen around the pool, but these were evidently the chairs of choice. Fine. No big deal.

What their presence did remind me of is that I obviously have no idea how to navigate pool culture with any kind of style. What's the proper etiquette for choosing your pool chair? Perhaps I had unknowingly taken the seat of the "regulars." And how often should one get in the pool? When should you turn over?

As I was facing the pool music, another girl came in. There was only one chair remaining between me and the first two girls, and sure enough this was the most desirable chair at the pool.

So there I was - at the pool, incredibly hot, and right next to strangers. I threw caution to the wind and actually got in the pool. But now another complication seized me. What do you do by yourself in the pool when you're no longer a ten year old? Our pool isn't designed for laps. It's more like elbow macroni as opposed to the macaroni box. A rousing game of Marco Polo - by myself? Handstands? Complete awkwardness. And I realized (too late) that no one else had gone under the water when they got in the pool. Another pool rule broken. Cool kids don't swim under water.

As I did the backstroke across the 10-foot stretch of the pool, I resigned myself to my situation. I wasn't and never would be a fit for pool culture. Besides, I realized that for me (and admittedly this doesn't apply to all women), having a tan only increases that seemingly inevitable female tendency to obsess about our bodies and our appearance. I might as well swim and enjoy my pale self, wet hair and all.

8 comments:

jdmartin said...

Pale persons unite! I was a pale teen, then a tan thirtysomething (courtesy of many tanning sessions) and a melanoma victim in my forties. Those self tanning products have come a long way from QT, the miracle lotion that made you a shoe-in as an Oompa Loompa.

Susan said...

Ah, Oompa Loompas. It's all coming together for me now. It must have been my distinction as a pale person that made me the prime candidate for "Queen Oompa Loompa" in our senior class interpretation of Macbeth. They painted my face burnt orange and danced around me in the field behind the school. Those were glorious times.

Cassie said...

Yay Susan! I have another blog to break to during my long work days. I enjoyed the first post... keep up the good work.

Angie said...

Hey, Susan! Don't ask me how, but I found your blog (from one link to another...). I can't agree more with your post! Maybe I'm just anti-social...but the pool chair thing always weirds me out. :) Maybe since we actually live so close, we should attempt to brave it together, should you ever want to frequent the pool again. Ours is a bit more macaroni box-like...so I suppose you could attempt laps, if you navigate around those too-cool people standing around in the water. :) --A.Wong

tom & leah said...

it was just as funny in the written form as it was in the spoken. this is perfect for you. and you can take your laptop out with you on your lawnchair. or sit on our couch and post. our house may be a creative outlet for you!*

Dave said...

Pale is cool...God made you white, and that's all there is to it. I have to tell you, after a Caribbean honeymoon, I know what you mean. I have no 'etiquette,' and I don't care... :)

Mark M said...

After reading your post, I am happy to report that recently a group of Scandinavian researchers has published a report, revealing that while studying a group of ice-cave-dwelling pygmies, they discovered that pale, is in fact, the new tan. Judging by your story, you could quite easly assimilate into the pygmies' tribe, located north of Nowhere and west of Barrenwasteland near the edge of a small ice field in Scandanavia. If you do go, please bring me along, as I am tired of being asked if my skin is glowing when I venture outside, somewhat secure in my own paleness. Good post. Mark

Kristen said...

You crack me up. I so miss living with you, although I am sure you don't since you have Eric! Sad for me...good for you!

Anyway, you are so funny. Keep writing. Love you!