Pool Party

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you, no doubt, will be summertime. Although the calendar disagrees, Memorial Day weekend officially marks the commencement of hot weather in this part of the country because that's when the chlorinated swimming holes swing wide their pearly gates.

If you have kids, and if they're anything like I was when I was one, they'll be salivating, barking at the door to get in. Bid them entry. The pool will provide them a solid piece of memory on which to reflect, and about which to smile... during some future point in their lives when they really need to do both.

If your public pool's like the one from my childhood was, it is both the epi- and the cultural center of your neighborhood and hometown: the place to see, and the place to be seen (at least until you turn 14). To me, the pool was babysitter, ballet, and bistro all wrapped up into a tight little pavement and plaster bundle painted newborn-baby blue.

I'll never forget the sign that greeted pool patrons; it spelled out all the stuff you weren't supposed to do, the ground rules for the water. Like no swimming with festering wounds, no blowing your nose in the gutter, no swearing, no getting in without a shower, and other junk like that that kids commonly disregarded. The very top of the sign read, in big black block lettering: "Welcome to our O-O-L. Notice there is no P in it. Please keep it that way."

Always thought that was a clever way to state the most rudimentary of pool etiquette. Perhaps too clever, though, because some kids didn't seem to get the pun.

But hitting warm water pockets during a rousing game of "Marco!... Polo!" was just part of the experience.

Other parts of the swimming pool experience were (and hopefully still are): Playing baseball with a Nerf sphere and your hand - a homerun was hitting the ball onto the pavement, a ground rule double was getting it stuck in the gutter. Bouncing off the high dive and contorting your body into all sorts of tricky positions with wacky names like the Dead Duck, Suicide, and Chinese Suicide; it just occurred to me, incidentally, that all of these names have to do with death... but you don't think about that when you're twelve and showing off. Trying to understand the words of and then singing along with - words known or not - the (lolli-) pop rock music that sounded sweet even though it was played over a two-bit P.A. system that cut into the song to make an announcement every time a kid got a "get-home" call from his dad; that music still conjures up summer inside me whenever I hear it. Engorging yourself with all kinds of foodstuffs that mom doesn't keep at the house, such as Laffy Taffy, Lemonheads, Fireballs, and Sno Cones; some kids couldn't stomach the smorgasbord and got sick almost immediately after jumping back in the water... but most of them made it back out and into the restroom before barfing, because unlike peeing in the water, vomiting in it was a very noticeable rule violation that resulted in certain and swift expulsion.

And, of course, the main event, the most educational experience - the women (er, girls, really). Ah, yes, the girls, the real reason the pool was so popular.

Every pre-pubescent boy fancies himself with an older female... and 16 does just fine. The pool had plenty to pick from. The best among these were the lifeguards.

My buddies and I, after several turns off the diving boards or an extra-innings game of Nerf baseball, would often lean back, with both elbows in the gutter on the south side of the pool (where the vantage point was best), and gaze at the sunlight glistening off the lifeguards perched on their posts at three positions around the pool. We'd romanticize, generally, about two things: 1) that, behind the veil of their opaque sunglasses, the lifeguards were checking us out - and that is why they wore the shades in the first place, so as not to be caught gawking at us, and 2) how and where to most valiantly fake a drowning so as to earn some complimentary mouth-to-mouth and other related TLC.

Enigmatically, though, these things never materialized, so we turned to our peer group.

Girls of our own age definitely interested us too, and we did our best to show them - by dunking them, splashing water in their eyes, and persistent hair and ankle pulling - that we were seeking their affection.

They returned it, but waited, typically, until we were freshmen in high school.

And by then, the public swimming facility had somehow become - in the short course of time that spanned the beginning to the end of our eighth-grade year - just something for the swim team. Or something relegated for "little kids." So for us, the big sign at the entrance may as well have read: "Welcome to our O-O-L. Notice there is no C in it. Please keep away."

And so we did.

We got scooters, and summer jobs, and summer school, and work-outs for sports.

We got, we thought, all grown up.

And gone were the days of spending from 12-8 in and around the water, watched over by and watching over the lifeguards. Gone were the days of hair bleached green by the sun and chlorine. (Although green hair wasn't yet out... some people just acquired it through other, artificial means.) And gone were days of downing candy by the shovel full, because of acne by the face full.

And consequently, gone were the days of innocence.

But every year about this time, every time I see a public pool, I am permitted to revisit those days of innocence, days in the water... if only in my mind.

And it is hydrotherapy for my soul.

Sportspeak will be on hiatus until June 21 as Jeff Zurcher is on his honeymoon. Congratulations, Zurch!


Park it, bub!

Downtown parking problems aren't just relegated to lack of space, confusing signs and road rage anymore. Parking meters are getting in on the action too.

Apparently, the manual meters that have graced downtown Lexington for several decades are not only out of date but completely out of production.

Lexington's answer to the problem? Multi-space parking meters.

Multi-space parking meters can keep tabs on multiple parking spaces at once (pretty self-explanatory, isn't it?) which should reduce the need for street meters.

Advantages to the new parking meters include the purchase of fewer poles and meters, which should save Mayor Pam some dough. Disadvantages include not knowing if your car's getting towed because you accidentally paid someone else's meter. Well, if you can't figure out a meter, you probably shouldn't be driving. We've given you all the warning we're gonna give.

When you wish upon a grrl

Wishing Chair, a collaboration between songwriter/guitarist Kiya Heartwood and multi-instrumentalist Miriam Davidson based outside Lexington, released their third album, The Ghost of Will Harbut, under its new label, IndieGrrl Records on May 9th.

IndieGrrl is a new label formed by Indiegrrl and an artist development company and distributor, All Indie. The company first release was Halley DeVestern's Live at Townpath Inn a month ago.

The music on Ghost continues the folk-pop tradition that Wishing Chair has established, with the added influence of both popular and world music. The new album is sure to provide relief to Lexington ears that are craving something a little more local.

Another one bites the dust

Doot. Doot. Doot. Another one bites the dust... Helios, former Mediterranean restaurant turned bar and music venue will have shut their doors permanently by the date of this publication. Owner Clay McClure says she will sell the innards and sublet the place. Action Arts Collective member and local concert organizer Ross Compton said, "[It is] sad to see another venue go by the wayside," and we'd have to agree. We'd like to take a moment of silence for another music venue that's had some really great concerts over the past few months, and, prior to that, some great exotic food.