I try to suntan on my back deck, but it’s like when kids play, Whose feet can stand on this burning concrete the longest? Except I have no one to compete with, so I pretty much just walk out onto the deck, am engulfed by raging humidity, walk back into my air conditioned apartment, and…. game over. I am the winner, but I am also the loser.
I’ve been trying to figure out what has changed. Does tolerance for heat reduce with age? Am I in some sort of Long Island ozone oven where temperature is amplified? Have I turned into a vampire? Why am I cowering indoors like a 21st century Emily Dickinson? If I don’t go outside soon, the neighborhood children are going to invent scary legends about me, like this generation’s Boo Radley. (Can I be Boo Radley and Emily Dickinson, spliced into, perhaps, a Boo Dickinson, or did I just mix literary metaphors? I’ll leave that for you to decide.)
Then, it hit me, and it’s so obvious. At the risk of sounding like Veruca Salt (Daddy-demanding spoiled girl from Willy Wonka– bam, third literary reference. So what if they were all from a 6th grade summer reading list?), I was lucky enough to grow up with a pool and now, for the first time, I am experiencing summer…. dry. Well, you know, aside from all the sweat. The lovely thing about having a pool, besides the obvious matter of the pool itself, is that if you are sitting outside and feel moisture trickling down your back, you can convince yourself that it’s just residual pool water from your recent dip. On a deck, it’s just sweat, and you have to deal with that awareness.
Suntanning poolside is an entirely different animal, and one that can’t be replicated. Trust me, I’ve tried. You’d think darting straight from the shower to the deck might be a decent imitation, but it’s not. First off, you leave a trail of slick water down the hall, one which you will most likely forget about until you are sliding on it toward the bedroom with slightly less grace than Tom Cruise in Risky Business, arms flailing as you try to regain composure. Second, by the time you race out on the deck and situate yourself with your beach chair and book, you are dry. Pulling a muscle later as you avoid a hallway wipe-out will all be for naught. The other semi-reasonable stab at a pool substitution is lying out beside a stock pot full of cool water. You think– finally, a use for this stainless steel 20 quart stock pot that I requested on my registry but have no practical use for because we are only two people and have no reason to make 20 quarts of anything! But don’t celebrate prematurely, for after the 10 minutes it takes to fill up the damn thing, you will discover that this measure is also a failure. One, because a stock pot, though too large for only a couple servings of chili, is not the same as a pool, dumbass. And two, now you are overheating and you look like a fool on your back deck with views into eight other backyards (two with pools!! Jealousy!!), meaning those eight other families also have a view of you with your feet in a pot, bent over, cupping and dumping water onto your upper thighs and forearms. Now the kids on the block will not call you the neighborhood Scary Lady, but the neighborhood Crazy Lady. Happy? Third, now that your sweaty feet have been soaking in expensive cookware, you must boil water in the pot to bring it up to the sterile standards of its intended function– making food.
There are two expressions that this summer has confirmed to be true:
1) You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
2) People with pools have more friends. If that is not a legitimate expression, it should be. I don’t see anyone lining up with inner tubes and foam noodles to sit on our deck. But the guy next door? He’s either really funny, or people are there for the above ground that takes up his entire lawn. (He, by the way, has looked up from his floating lounge chair numerous times to see me on my deck, streaming with perspiration, and has never once invited me over. I would never accept, because swimming in a stranger’s pool would be kind of creepy, unless it was really really hot out. But it’d still be nice to be asked. I know one neighbor who is not getting Christmas cookies. Okay, yeah. Nobody is getting Christmas cookies. If I’m baking cookies, I’m eating them myself.)
The summer months used to be reserved for getting tan enough that Phil and I could almost pass as an interracial couple. That’s all I want in life. Now, I just don’t have the willpower.
On the bright side, we’re saving on suntan lotion.