I love the pool at The Mom’s house. I have spent time there every summer since we moved into that house, over twenty years ago. When I was a kid, and most of my friends were off at summer camp, I hung out at the pool, chattering away to the lifeguards, swimming laps, doing crafts, or just hanging about. It was always, in my mind, the coolest place ever. When I was old enough, and qualified as a lifeguard myself, I got a job at another similar pool, a couple of neighbourhoods over. The year-and-a-half I spent having a miserable Crohn’s flare, post-PhD, that was two summers where I went every single day for a long, long swim. It got to the point that I was so tanned, I had to start wearing a rash guard just to keep my skin in check.
Growing up, I don’t remember much in the way of evening activities there, save of course the Adult Pool Party where all the local neighbourhood adults gathered round the water to listen to the local math-nerd band play Beach Boys covers.
Since then, a lot has been happening. And frequently when I’m not around to enjoy it, which is annoying.
I’ll get an email from The Mom saying something strange about a petting zoo, and then a few days later, when we Skype, the full story comes out.
“You should’ve seen it!” she’ll crow. “There were parrots, a donkey, a big snake, merkats, all sorts of things!”
“This is the kind of information you need to give me before I book my flights. Improved coordination here is vital,” I’ll retort.
“The neighbours will put pictures up on Facebook. I got to pet everything!”
Please try to keep in mind that The Mom is now a senior. This will in no way prevent her from nudging her way to the front of the line to pet animals, local three-year-olds be damned.
However, the highlight of the year that I’m usually in town for is the Talent Show, and this year’s efforts did not disappoint. The Talent Show is a model of inclusivity. Anyone and everyone can have a slot if they so desire. There is no general theme or other such requirements. All you need to do is say you’d like to perform, and then perform. I suspect that advance notice isn’t even required. So, if like us, you struggle to get your shit together, no matter, you can just show up, talent in hand, ready to share with everyone else in the neighbourhood.
What is truly baffling is that The Mom has never insisted that we – as a family – perform. She loves this kind of thing. She is truly a ham and will go to ridiculous lengths to get a laugh.
I imagine, if we were to perform something in the way of a ‘show’ it would involve the dogs. Maybe not jumping through hoops, but certainly costumes would be involved. I shall mention this at Christmas, so we’ll have enough time to ensure everyone is in town, and that the dogs (and their respective trainers) have time to work up something special.
Anyhow, the most recent talent show was hysterical. You have to take a grain of salt with it, but still. A kid demonstrating skateboarding without a skateboard? You could charge £20 a head for that in hipster east London and sell out the Hackney Empire in no time. There was also a group with excellent costumes, but it was unclear what they were doing, beyond rushing about, showing off their costumes which were something like fox heads and capes. There was the usual group dance selection which I must admit is never my favourite, mostly because I don’t care for the pop music required. The Mom however, knows all the latest tunes, and frequently sings along.
I hasten to point out that we don’t have children involved in this. At least not our own. Sure, The Mom knows half the kids in the neighbourhood by name, and the across the street friends have a wee daughter who performs, but even before we knew them, we used to go, The Mom and I.
“It’s important to take part in the community, dear. We’re a small town, in a small close-knit-ish neighbourhood. It’s not like London. You can talk to your neighbours here.”
Which I know but still sometimes find unsettling because by talk she means gossip and by that she means they already know your dirty secrets so why bother trying to hide?
At any rate, it’s an annual event and so I’m tabling an action point for Christmas. We’ve been watching this show for years and it’s high time we took part.