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A Summer Vignette

June 19, 2012

If summer isn’t your favorite season you are what the French call “les incompétents.” I spent my childhood in Washington, D.C. and nearby suburban Maryland, where summertime is no joke, but the summer I turned 13 we bid adieu to the swampy June’s and July’s forever and moved to San Francisco. Summer in San Francisco is a bit of a wild card with the micro climates that sometimes border on Arctic, but this never seems to change the fact that the dawning of the “longest-day season” always triggers the same imaginary, elementary school countdown to freedom in my mind.



It still smells like warm chlorine and sunscreen, I want to dive into the deep end (even though I know this means getting about a half-inch of water in the bottom of my googles) to retrieve the nickels that my mother has deliberately tossed into the water from the safety of her chaise lounge island, under the brim of a straw sun hat, an issue of the New Yorker always at her side, crinkly and warped from the splashing and the sun.

When the harsh and elongated whistle calls for adult swim I will look around at the other kids, waiting to see who will tempt the fates and be the last one out. And then, if Tony, the Good Humor man hasn’t pulled up to the curb yet with our Screw Balls, and Strawberry Shortcakes and Astro Pops, we’ll just sit on the rough, concrete edge of the pool, which has the same effect as sandpaper on the bottom of my swimsuit. Dangling our feet in, we’ll impatiently wait out the 20-minutes, my best friend just learned Cats Cradle, she’s teaching me how. Some of the rambunctious boys, the ones who are put on Ritalin during the school year, are warring on the jungle gym in the grass behind the diving boards. One of them, having fallen victim to a yellow jacket hiding in the clover comes running, red faced, back towards the mothers under the umbrellas. He’ll retire next to us, soaking his wound in the water. 10-minutes left.

Aside from a slight ripple caused by the lone grandma swimming side stroke in the far lane, the pool is as perfect as freshly fallen snow, or an ice rink after the Zamboni comes through, just waiting for us to destroy it. The lifeguard is only 16 but she seems about 25 to me, sitting high above the water in her throne. She’s wearing a very official bright red Speedo two-piece with LIFEGUARD across the chest in white block letters. The way she expertly twirls the lanyard with her whistle on it is something I endlessly mimic at home with a strand of fake pearls I found in my dress-up trunk.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alexandra permalink
    June 28, 2012 1:43 pm

    You forgot to mention getting whacked in the head by the tether ball. Miss those summers at Palisades. xo

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