Monday, August 11, 2014

Pick Up Kids

The drive to my parents’ house is long. Four hours on a road that offers very little to look at. Not that it matters. I’m guessing that if I drove through Yellowstone three or four times a year I’d become numb to the scenery. It’s four hours in a car and I hate being trapped in a car. I don’t know why I have this reaction. After all I am the king of wasting valuable time on pursuits that don’t matter. But for some reason, a long car ride makes me feel like I chose to spend the last four minutes of my life writing a review on Amazon for some shoe laces I bought two years ago. It’s a reprehensible waste.

That’s such a weird reaction considering long car rides usually put me in places where I discover joy. I just never seem to connect the two.

I’m going home tonight. I’ve been feeling really nostalgic lately so this might be a good time to get back to where I spent most of that decade. I’ve been thinking a lot about the 70’s. I’ll probably listen to the 70’s channel on satellite radio. The music often takes me back to the Surf Club. It was a pool my family belonged to when I was little. I’ll hear, “Treat Her Like a Lady” by the Temptations and suddenly I smell suntan lotion and chlorine. I can feel the wet heat of walking through puddles that have been cooked on concrete. This is right before I leap into the cool, blue water right at the black number four painted on the side of the pool. It had to be four feet because I couldn’t swim. I could bound off the bottom of the pool to the surface and then thrash my way to the side, but that was about it.

I can see my red, Charlie Tuna swim trunks.

Why did my mom buy me trunks with a mascot for canned tuna on the front pocket? I’m sure she didn’t put a lot of thought into them. It couldn’t have been some kind of statement about me or even the family’s tuna preferences. If this was case then I’m sure I would have had articles of clothing featuring Heinz Ketchup. We ate a lot more ketchup than tuna. No – Charlie was irrelevant. The swim trunks were either on sale or just too cute to pass up.

I’m sure I’m thinking about the 70’s because Dad died. That’s where he mostly lives in my head. I’m sure I put him there because not only was that when we were all together under one roof, but he was in his prime. He was better looking and hipper than the other dads. His athletic build and calculated tan was a contrast to the other men I saw playing with their kids in the water. I don’t remember if he spent a lot of time playing with me in the pool. I know he did. I know he would throw me in the air and let the water catch me. This was probably not as much as I would have liked, but six year-olds are demanding. I would have wanted him to spend every second tossing me, playing Marco Polo and seeing how long we could hold our breath. 

That's what I did with my kids this weekend in the pool. I'm glad I got to do that one more time this summer. 

By the way, when I got into town around 9:00 on Friday I stopped by the Surf Club. It was empty and I walked up to the gate. Some new covered seating and new water slides, but otherwise it all looked the same - only smaller. Those pools were are a lot smaller than the ones in my memory.