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.