Summer Sprinkle
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Today is hot. Thankfully, I’m fortunate enough to have a pool so I can cool down in this oppressive heat. I’m also “fortunate” enough to have to vacuum it, buy countless expensive chemicals and extract gobs of human hair and large, scary-looking bugs from the filter. There’s only one thing better than owning a pool and that’s knowing someone who owns a pool and using theirs for free. I also have a Speedo bathing suit. It’s royal blue with an autographed likeness of seven-time Olympic gold medalist, Mark Spitz, strategically located in the groinal region. I think I look better in trunks, as do the frightened neighbors, but I find the Spitz Speedo keeps the free-loading moochers at bay.

Kids today are spoiled when it comes to surviving a hot summer. Most of the hot days are wasted downloading music, playing video games and “texting” fellow suburban hermits, all in the comfort of central air-conditioning. Occasionally, my daughter will swim but only if the water temperature is just below boiling. I pity her generation, that they’ll never know the wonders and joys of alternative methods to cool down on a hot summer’s day.

Kids in my dad’s era were very tough. Nobody owned swim trunks. Every kid’s summer attire consisted of sturdy, heavy denim, blue jeans and a plain white T-shirt. Not only was it fashionable, it was versatile as well. By rolling up the pant legs and slipping off the T-shirt, you were instantly ready to tackle any form of water and create one helluva case of inner thigh chafe, from the rubbing of wet, stiff denim.

There were two ways to cool down back then. On really hot days, the local fireman would open up the hydrants and let the kids run through the dangerously high pressured stream of water until either the water pressure waned or the kids’ skin peeled off. The other way to cool off was at a watering hole. There were two types of watering holes: (1) The inner city spa, which boasted a rusty bathtub, on a garbage-strewn vacant lot, filled with rain water and other discarded fluids from abandoned automobiles; and (2) For those who wanted to get away from it all and relax in nature’s splendor, one of the city’s parks was sure to have a stagnant pond, fully equipped with an overhanging tire swing and an abundance of nearly hatching mosquito larvae. Those were tough kids, risking pestilence and malaria, all for the sake of cooling off. My generation had much easier, and less deadly, means to beat the heat.

When I was 10, we didn’t have a pool so my dad bought the family a “Slip & Slide,” which was an 18’ long strip of bright, yellow plastic that was hooked up to the hose. I remember the first time we used the Slip & Slide because it was also the last time we used the Slip & Slide. The picture on the box showed insanely happy children sliding across the lawn, while a cooling mist of water helped ease their twisting bodies over the length of the plastic. What the box failed to show was an irate father with shaking fist, cursing loudly and complaining to his wife, while looking down on the 18’ patch of dead grass left behind by the Slip & Slide. The box also neglected to warn kids that if/when you slide off the end, the innocent looking blades of grass will, in fact, tear up your chest and arms with stinging, paper cut-like wounds. As I said, we never “Slipped” or “Slided” across the lawn again but dad had another suggestion.

Dad decided he could kill two birds with one stone by letting us kids run through the sprinkler. Not only was this helpful for the grass but at the same time, shut up a lawn full of sweaty, nagging kids for the rest of the afternoon. There are many ways to run through a sprinkler and the following is a brief description of the varying techniques.

The Baryshnikov Style: This was my preferred technique. First, I approached the sprinkler by sprinting like a complete fool, arms flailing, tongue out and screaming some kind of strange noise. Just before entry, I planted my left foot and with head thrown back and arms out to the side, I’d jump through the water in a manner which could be best described as a “fairy leap.” I’m not proud of it, it’s just what I did.

The Clairol Technique: This style was implemented strictly by girls. However, if I found myself alone and the old man couldn’t see me, I’d bust this move out myself. Again, I’m not proud of it. I had some issues. Anyway, the girls (or I) would crawl up to the sprinkler and stick just the hair in the streaming water. After a good soaking, they’d run their fingers through their hair, as though shampooing, and sing loudly, “I’m gonna wash that gray right outta my hair!”

The Dead Head Style: At the age of 10, none of us had found the time to experiment with mind-altering drugs. You know, with Little League, collecting baseball cards and building forts, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to drop some acid and lick the sky. You could, however, work yourself into a psychedelic trance by using the Dead Head Style.

These “weirdoes,” as we referred to them, usually were uninvited neighborhood kids that nobody talked to. They’d just stand next to the sprinkler and silently grin as they slowly passed their hand across the streams of water. Completely mesmerized by the different patterns they were making, they’d occasionally let out a slurred, “Wooooow” or “Cooooool.”

Then they’d pee on our lawn and ask us for munchies.

The Squatter: There was always that one kid who would squat down with his butt a few inches above the sprinkler. What this did for him, I’ll never know. I found it creepy. Perhaps he was practicing for future use of a bidet, which is French for “drinking fountain next to the toilet.”

I wish there was someway to rattle these kids of today to get outside and take advantage of alternative ways to cool off. I think I’ll strap on the old Spitz Speedo and chase the neighborhood kids around for awhile. That’ll get ‘em all hot and sweaty and I’m certain they’ll jump in the pool. I’ll also find an alternative manner in which to cool down as I’m sure after I’m arrested, the back seat of the squad car will have plenty of air-conditioning.

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