Guidelines for success.

Front yard.

Did you ever have a crush on a lifeguard? It’s a big theme in books for teenage girls, but it’s a rite of passage I missed somehow. The beach by my aunt and uncle’s beach house (aka one of my favorite places on the planet, see above) doesn’t have the lifeguards in chairs that I always imagined when reading The Baby-Sitters’ Club. Until last year, I had never spent a lot of time at the pool. The only interaction with a lifeguard that I can remember came at the city pool when I was in 4th or 5th grade. I had gone off the diving board and one of the lifeguards approached me and asked me if I could go off again in a few minutes and pretend to be drowning so that one of the newer lifeguards could “save” me. And then I could get $5 of snacks at the snack bar. You know how I love snacks. So I, of course, said yes.

Now that I think about it, I am fairly certain that my terrible terrible swimming skills are the reason that I was asked to pretend to drown. Let’s just say it wasn’t too difficult for me to fake it. (Also, is this actually standard procedure? Do lifeguards generally pay people to pretend to drown?) Sadly, I cannot remember what the snacks that I purchased at the snack bar were. I hope I got nachos.

Mike and I generally sit under one of the umbrellas by the high dive. There are zones where people sit, you see. The families with small children sit on the other end, by the baby pool and the shallow end. We prefer not to take space down there from people who actually need it. Plus, I enjoy watching the antics on the high dive. I have noticed that the lifeguards, in general, are long-suffering. They have to enforce the rules: swim to the ladder, stay off the rope, only one bounce, no running, no back flips. They have to deal with teenagers who are there without their parents, children who are there with babysitters (who would rather be on the phone and let the lifeguards babysit), and people like me who can’t actually swim and have no business being in the pool.

But I have noticed something else. There are a lot of things that the lifeguards aren’t in charge of that perhaps they should be. Inappropriate things happen at the pool, and there is no one to take care of them. I believe that we should give the lifeguards even more power to regulate these issues, for the good of humanity.

1. “Excessive flirting by the snack bar.” Look, we all remember what it feels like to have a summer crush. But when you can’t keep your hands off each other, well, it’s clear that someone needs to intervene. And Mike says I’m not allowed to. So I need the lifeguards to do something.

2. “Your bathing suit is see-through.” Please don’t buy a white bathing suit. It’s not worth the risk. Please don’t buy your son swimming trunks with white on the top. I have already been embarrassed by that at the pool this year. The little boy would have been embarrassed if he had realized it. Also, please don’t let your daughter wear a bathing suit for three or four years in a row. If it’s getting threadbare, it’s probably going to look bare when she gets it wet.

3. “You have no business wearing that.” I’m looking at you, lady with the side boob hanging out. Also you, fat guy in the Speedo. Actually, let’s just put a ban on Speedos. They make everyone uncomfortable. Since we’re talking about wardrobe choices, young man, please tie your pants. You’re mooning the entire pool every time you get out of the water. And, on a personal level: lady in the baby pool with a toddler and a completely flat stomach, go put on something other than a string bikini. You’re awesome. We all get it.

4. Similarly: “Should you really be eating that?” Our pool has an fantastic snack bar, but everyone around you is aware that, no, you should really not be eating those fries. Have a salad instead. Also, please buy a bathing suit that fits.

5. “Careful there, cougar.” Okay, I think it’s gross to call women cougars. It’s not my favorite term. But when groups of women are loudly and obviously ogling the . . . younger men, well, I don’t want to spoil their fun, but I do think something should be done about it. This is a family pool. (This relates to the ban on Speedos above.)

Other than Christmas, I am most vulnerable to nostalgia in the summer. Perhaps you feel that way, too, remembering long summer days spent outside, sweating it out during fireworks displays, bodysurfing in the ocean. Writing this made me surprisingly nostalgic for those days, especially the ones spent at the pool. In college, I had a friend who spent the summers being a lifeguard, and though our friendship has long since run its course, I miss what college represented to the two of us: all those days and possibilities ahead. Based on her reports at the end of the summer, I think she would have appreciated my suggestions here.

What social situations need to be regulated at your pool?

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