I was swimming laps in the community pool the other day when it dawned on me: I was doing a lot of work and getting nowhere fast. Sort of like NASCAR drivers. Except NASCAR drivers wear cool helmets and sharp-looking, fire-resistant outfits covered with names of high-paying sponsors. I was wearing swim trunks, tiny plastic goggles and a stretchy, plastic swim cap. And I had to pay for it all myself. Yep. A lot like NASCAR.
I started swimming laps several times a week in an effort to stave off something all middle-aged men fear: losing the TV remote. There nothing that a graying, balding, slightly overweight middle-aged man fears more than not being able to instantly switch between episodes of Spongebob Squarepants and Cupcake Wars.
During a recent search for the remote I found myself at the municipal swimming pool. Nobody there had seen the remote. The place didn’t even have a TV. What kind of self-respecting business doesn’t have a TV? Even airports have TVs. Probably to keep customers from thinking about how they’re about to be squeezed into long metal tubes hurtling 500 miles per hour at 35,000 feet above the earth. With no TV remotes!
So, there I was watching people doing laps at the swimming pool and I thought, “Hey! I want to wear a cool stretchy, plastic swim cap like that!”
Then I had a second thought (it happens): “Hey, I should stop eating at McDonald’s for lunch every day and start swimming laps and swallow gallons of water that’s been peed in by 5 year olds!”
I paid for some pool passes and jumped in the water. The lanes were crowded with lap swimmers. They must be NASCAR fans, too!
When lap swimming, one does not simply jump into the water and start flailing around. There are certain techniques to ensure you perform efficient flailing. The “Breathing Technique” is very important. When you’re underwater it’s critical that you don’t breath. If you do, you drown, which can hamper your search for the remote. Peeing in the pool involves a specific technique. Make sure the current of the pool whisks the urine away from your body toward the shallow end, where a group of 5 year olds is playing. This is called the “Revenge Technique.” Another helpful technique is the “Loose Swim Trunks Technique.” This guarantees that your trunks fall off when you first dive into the pool. This technique is usually performed in front of teenagers, who point and laugh at you, and post videos of the entire incident on social media sites.
Another great thing about going to the community pool is changing clothes and showering in a public place with a bunch of other graying, balding, slightly overweight middle-aged men looking for TV remotes. You won’t get that at McDonald’s! However, I draw the line when it comes to the hot tub. Usually it’s full of senior citizens and I don’t want to catch “Old Person Cooties.” Also, who needs to see that many wrinkles up close?
One of the coolest things about lap swimming is wearing a cap. The thin, stretchy plastic covering for my head not only protects it from wayward armpit hair, it hides my bald spot. I used to think that women no longer flirt with me because of my wedding ring, but I think it may have something to do with the giant helicopter pad on my head. Now, I know some men hate their bald spots. So much so they spends hundred of dollars on products advertised on late night TV designed to make their bald spot look like they spent hundreds of dollars on products advertised on late night TV.
I take a more optimistic approach to my bald spot. I like to think of it as having a head that is half full instead of half empty. Also, it’s another part of my body that can get tan! A bald spot can be a great defense mechanism. During a ninja attack, or when wrinkly senior citizens try to pull me into the hot tub, I can reflect the sun’s rays with my bald spot and blind my enemies. That’s a real exciting Tuesday for me when I get to do that.
Eventually I found the remote at the pool. One of the 5 year olds was practicing the “Hide the Remote Technique.” He gave it up after I threatened to throw him in the hot tub. When I got home, I turned on the TV to watch some NASCAR racing. I asked my wife, who was attempting to land a drone on my bald spot, to join me. She declined, saying I smelled weird.
I bet NASCAR drivers never have to worry about catching Old Person Cooties.
Scott Graves was editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot from September 2000 to November 2017. He can be reached by calling 541-469-3123 or firstname.lastname@example.org