Last night, I ate half a chicken parmesan hero for dinner that was the size of a healthy 12 year old’s leg. I followed that up by half a plate of cheese fries, way too much orange Fanta soda, and then an ice cream cone. I think I may need to be taken to the hospital.
Truth be told, I’m not actually trying to give myself Type 2 Diabetes. And in my defense, I did only eat half of my hero – I’m saving the rest for lunch today – but that one meal, which was probably around 1500 calories alone, was more or less the only thing I ate yesterday. Not that it’s healthy to eat one huge goddamn meal a day, like a fucking snake, but it’s not like I had a 3-egg bacon and cheese omelet for breakfast followed by half a pepperoni pizza for lunch; I think I had one of those chalky protein bars that turn into sawdust in your stomach when I got up yesterday.
Not only that, but I engaged in quite a bit of physical labor yesterday, as I volunteered to be part of a work crew to unveil our next-door neighbor’s (and landlord’s) in-ground pool. The massive glut of food last evening was part of the thank-you that our landlord’s daughter gave us all for pitching in, and for anyone who’s never had the joy of dealing with pool maintenance, you probably don’t realize what a pain in the dick it can be.
This isn’t new for me; I actually grew up in a household that had a pool in the backyard. First it was a simple, relatively small above-ground one that wasn’t a total bitch to keep clean and to open up at the beginning of every season, but soon my parents opted for the full in-ground heated pool, complete with diving board and brick patio – the ultimate badge of the middle-class – and that’s when the nightmares really began.
Keeping a pool of that size clean is worse than trying to keep two dogs in a bathtub. Every god damned leaf and twig in a five hundred foot radius of your back yard will somehow find a way into the pool, and no matter how much time you spend with that fucking plastic net on a collapsible pole, you’re always going to find that there’s one more thing that you missed. Not only that, but you’ve got to constantly empty the baskets that are inset around the skimmers, which are invariably clogged with all kinds of foul shit, up to and including dead animals that blundered into the pool and met their watery end, and on top of all that (as if that wasn’t enough) you’ve got to constantly stay on top of the pH levels, dump all kinds of vile chemicals in there to keep the pool from turning into a giant solar-heated petri dish, and then vacuum the fucking bottom with some horrible contraption that looks like it belongs in a steampunk art collection.
This is pretty much a once-every-couple-days affair, which sounds exhausting, until you realize how much work it is to remediate a pool that’s gone around the bend, which could include draining the entire god damned thing and scrubbing the fuck out of it with hand-brushes until it’s clean enough to be filled, incredibly and painstakingly slowly, with a garden hose. I have participated in such events. It is not fun.
I have fond memories of enjoying that pool in my parents’ backyard as a kid. My father worked like a goddamned dog to earn enough cash to get not one pool put in but two, and then worked even harder once it was in to keep it clean, but it was an investment that paid off: my parents bought that house in 1978 for $35,000 and they sold it in 2006 for something like $450,000, partly due to the fact that it had an in-ground pool in pristine condition. At the same time, I know more than a few of my father’s gray hairs have come from that fucking thing, and I can tell you exactly how I know this.
Their new house? The one they bought after cashing in their first house? A larger property in a significantly better neighborhood. Two full acres of property, a two-car garage, three bedrooms and two baths, a full finished basement… and no pool.