Sunday, June 19, 2005

10,000 gallons of misery

If you have a thing for reaching shoulder-deep into a slough of decaying leaves and insect larva, you should definitely get yourself an above-ground pool. You could also go on the show Fear Factor, but then you’d have to get plastic surgery, prance around in a swimsuit, and eat unholy animal parts, too. Given the experience I’ve had getting the pool open this year, though, eating the terminal section of a pig’s alimentary canal doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

My wife Kara and I inherited our pool from our house’s previous owners. In a striking coincidence, they sold their house to us the summer after they built the pool under several tall maple trees. We should have sensed something was awry when we saw them high-fiving in the parking lot after we closed on the house. This is how bad pools happen to good people. They get passed around, like pink eye.

Neither Kara nor I had ever owned a pool before. Our first year here, the pool was a bog until August, when our friend Dan came to our house while we were on our honeymoon and fixed it up for us. We have no idea what shadowy art Dan used to turn the water from brown to blue, but we promptly closed the pool for the winter in late August, hoping to trap some of his magic in there for this year.

Last week, Kara and I decided that it was warm enough to take the lid off of Pandora’s Pool for the summer. The first step to opening a pool is to put lots of money into your checking account. You’ll need this to cover your purchases of chlorine and Prozac.

Then, you simply remove the tarp that is covering your pool. The only problem is that seven hundred pounds of decaying, dank leaves have been rotting on it since October. Because you can’t heft the tarp over the sidewall of the pool with all that weight on it, you will need a bucket and a strong stomach. The smell of those leaves could, as I recently heard someone turn the phrase, “knock a buzzard off a manure truck.”

You have to reach your whole body into the tarp, scoop out the putrid water and rotting leaves, attempt not to inhale any of the swarming mosquitoes, heave the bucket over the top of the pool wall and dump its contents into the neighbors’ flower garden. You must repeat this process until the tarp is light enough to heave over the wall and onto the ground, where it will stay until the fall.

I need to interject a brief story here: several months ago, a plumber who was doing some work in our basement told us about going on a house call with a buddy of his. His buddy was a septic tank pumper, also known as a “honeydipper.” The plumber and the honeydipper had to go do some work on an overflowing septic tank on a hot summer day. When the two men took the lid off the tank, the plumber had to step back from the powerful fumes. The honeydipper just stood there, inhaled deeply through his nose, smiled, and said, “Mmmmm. Smells like money.”

That story cost me $1,000, so I hope you enjoyed it.

When I came back into the house after removing the tarp, exhausted and plastered with rotting leaves, Kara employed a colorful simile to describe the way I smelled, but money isn’t what she told me I smelled like. You might expect having a pool to turn you into a Baywatch lifeguard, but in my experience, you come out much more like the Swamp Thing.

Anyway, if you’re bored this summer, feel free to come over to our house. Unless Dan gets here before you, we can go catch tadpoles in the pool.


  1. Doctor Alec Holland6/20/2005 2:00 AM that you have a new picture of yourself, you should change your host from to

  2. Wow, looks like anything in and around your house that begins with "p" - plumbing, pool or patio, gets you both royally p'ed off!!!

    Too bad, cos I know someone who knows someone who could give you guys a great deal on a putting green...

  3. my mom just had an underground pool aunt had an above ground pool when she lived in cali....i would choose the underground anyday....

  4. That many page loads since Harrison was "assassinated" by pneumonia?

    How many page loads since me too?

  5. Alec -- thanks for making me Google Alec Holland. I'm so much more educated in Swamp Thingdom now.

    JL -- I hadn't realized all the "p"ness. Thanks for pointing out my psychological issues.

    Randi -- You're right. Plus, "underground" sounds so much more hardcore, like there's a rave in the deep end or something.

    John -- The same number since Tippecanoe.

  6. I'd sue your plastic surgeon if I were you, Mike, something's not quite right.

    I have a few vacation days coming up? Can I visit you and run around with the tarp hanging off my shoulders, all SwampMan Style?

  7. My family had an above-ground pool for a year or two. The bad part was, that it was no only second-hand, but third-hand. Yes, we had a used, used pool. The liner was basically a big patch.

  8. Shouldn't that footer say:

    "Number of times I've reloaded my own blog to skew my results"

    And speaking of "P" problems... I hope you're not having a problem in bed man! or with your wife in bed!

  9. Ha! I was wondering why your new photo had you looking like a victim of the flesh eating virus.

    I can relate with the pool thing. I will not own one for that very reason.

    Great post!

  10. Mikka -- Does Swamp Thing sport a cape? He does now. Rock on.

    Master -- Ha. We may have to euthanize our pool soon, too.

    Jered -- You're right. I realize now that the footer should say:

    "Number of comments Jered leaves before he says something funny:"

    Haha. My burn was funnier.

    Shandi -- Yeah, I forgot I was Swamp Thing when I was leaving comments, too. I'll change it back to the funny-lookin' picture soon.

  11. I hated having a pool when I was little. I was in charge of getting all the leaves out each day. It drove me crazy.

  12. The information given in this comment does not constitute legal or professional advice or opinion, and should not be relied upon for any commercial purposes. It is provided solely and exclusively for general, non-specific personal enjoyment, and to advise the reader that the commentator has nothing better to do.

  13. The Pope had a pool -- that explains why he always looks so mad.

    Canadian Dude -- I'm using your comment for legal advice anyway.

  14. Great one-
    I'm sending that crap to my mom. She will hoot and hollar about it.
    That Photo is actually a building in Prague CR or Manchester UK- I don't know. But the sky on the other hand is from a doo good for golly Indiana sky taken through my shades at the time. Combined the 2 negs. Just in case you were wondering. Does your pool go "Boomba Bomp boop" when you walk around in it? Jaime Feiler's did and she's the only one I knew with an above groud jimmy.

  15. Rob! You learned how to comment, man. I'm very proud of you. I think you meant to comment on the picture above this, though.

    Wait, you said something about the pool, too. Never mind.

    Two negatives, huh? Took a picture through your shades? Dang, you're all artsy and crap. Great pic, man.

  16. Dr. Alva Algebra6/23/2005 5:17 PM

    It's true, two negatives do make a positive!