Apropos of Nothing: Backyard Pool Ownership Not So Fun
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
This may surprise you, but as a human being, approximately 70 percent of my body is made up of water. Water. One of the most common substances on earth. Don’t laugh. You’re about 70 percent water, too. Maybe that’s why we have to pee so often as we get older. I’m no doctor, but I think I see a connection on this point.
Even with that in mind, and even through water flows freely down my face whenever I overexert myself, I find it nearly impossible to lose any substantial amount of weight no matter how hard I try. Then again, that may tend to have some connection to the fact that I consider standing from a sitting position to be a key component in overexerting myself. In other words, I don’t try very hard.
Water. It’s everywhere. In fact nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface is covered by water. A good portion of Florida is, too. And why not? After all, the sandbar I call home is barely more than a few feet above sea level all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. A good sized wave can not only carry a line of surfers to the beach, if it’s big enough it can deliver a small child a fair distance inland, too. It can also moisten carpets and do a number on the good furniture if you’re not careful.
Water, who needs it?
Well, not so fast. We need it. We love it. In fact, we’re such fans of water, we build enormous municipal water systems to deliver clean, sparkling water directly to our toilets so we can show Australians that the water really does swirl the other way up here in the northern hemisphere. Think of it like a rich guy lighting his cigars with hundred dollar bills. The money will never run out… or so he thinks. The rest of us are the same way with water. We just keep flushing it down the drain, running it into the ditch, and shunting it out to sea with the full knowledge that everything will be just fine in the long run. Or not. There’s just no way of knowing for sure.
Water is like the sun in that respect. Nobody really knows how it works. Not really. In fact, it’s best not to think about it. You’ll just give yourself a headache.
Several years ago my kids (who are so cute and cuddly and adorable almost nobody ever imagines they’re the evil geniuses they truly are) decided they wanted a pool. Of course they want a pool. It’s hot and a pool is nothing if not cool and refreshing. So I bought one. A pool. An above ground pool that promised to be easy to set-up, easy to own, and a true delight to have in your yard.
Based on the advertisement alone I supposed my house would become the central adolescent gathering spot in town, populated almost entirely by well-dressed, clean cut, young men and women with exemplary manners and dazzling smiles.
That’s not quite what happened. In fact, based on my own personal experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that three-quarters of the world’s surface is covered by dissatisfied above-ground pool owners. First, set-up was not quite the breeze I was led to believe it would be. I’ve seen a video of the process and let me tell you, I looked disquietingly similar to Jerry Lewis in his hey day, trying to build a Saturn V rocket out of an Erector Set, a box full of Lincoln Logs, and a handful of Silly Putty. Similar, but not quite identical. I’m afraid Jerry would have carried it off with slightly more style.
Then there are the chemicals. They sell these chemicals at every other store in town, so they’re convenient to get. And they come in easy to carry packages that make each purchase a cinch. Which is good, because you need to add these chemicals to your pool by the truckload. So while they’re convenient to get and easy to carry – I put more miles on the car while going to or coming home from the pool supply store than I do during my round trips to work all week.
And there is the algae issue. Pools are supposed to be clear blue slices of heaven right here on earth. I know that because I’ve seen the advertisements. I’ve seen the pictures on the box the pool parts came in, and the packages the chemicals come in, and the advertisements for the pumps and filters and hoses and clamps I need to keep my pool in tip top working condition. Yet my pool practically glows in dark it’s so green. I’ve gone from emerald green to sea foam green and a hundred degrees of shading in between – but I’ve never once seen a pool full of ice blue water that was clear enough to be inviting. Not in my back yard. My pool looks like the toxic waste dump the Riddler fell into just before he went nuts and decided it would be a good idea to challenge the big weird dude wearing a bat suit to a street fight.
Here’s another fun fact about water for you. Good old everyday fresh water can dissolve more substances than any other liquid. That’s true. It’s been dissolving my money so fast at my place I can’t even move it from the bank teller’s hand to my wallet before it’s gone.
Water. It’s everywhere. Do you think somebody could do something about that? I mean, this is the 21st Century after all. Can’t we come up with an artificial substitute that’s low calorie, lightly sweetened, and totally 100 percent algae free? It’s about time, don’t you think?
Oh yeah, my kids haven’t gone into the back yard in three years. I’m not sure they even know we have a pool – or whatever that big green vat of glowing liquid is.