Friday, July 27, 2007

Marco! Polo!

Earlier this summer, my neighbor in the lot behind me installed an upground pool and it has been delighting and comforting me all summer long. None of this delight has come from actually setting foot in the pool itself, but from the sounds of the kids who swim in it from 9 in the morning to late in the evening.

I grew up with a pool. The shouts and splashes and inevitable angry screams when an unsuspecting child gets the occasional dunking is the soundtrack to my life that I hadn't even realized had stopped playing.

The most quintessential pool sound comes from the class game, Marco Polo. The person who is "it" closes their eyes and yells "Marco!" while the rest of the players dart out of the way responding "Polo!" In the pool of my youth, this included tactics of varying torture, such as bopping the person who is "it" on the head and leaping out of the way before they could tag you, or yanking on their ankles from underneath the water to pull them down whilst they swing and swing for you. I didn't say we were nice children, but we were very, very fun.

I was big with the "Fish Out of Water" thing because I was little and fast. Our house rules said that as long as one part of your body is in the water, it counts as in. This is the best way to get a bop on someone's head. You wait until just after you've responded with a "Polo!" then you dive over their head, give it a good, satisfying bop, and then swim away underwater to safety.

I don't know if the kids behind me are as vicious as we were, but they do play the game, evidence of which echoes throughout our neighbor like a call to summer. I love it.

I also love this little snippet of conversation I just heard clean as a bell:

Mother: Benjamin! Did you throw rocks in the pool?
Benjamin: Nooooo ...
Mother: You have all those pool toys and you're throwing rocks in the pool that I worked so hard to put up for you?
Benjamin (a little more softly this time): Nooo ...
Mother: Don't lie to me, Benjamin! Your father seen it!

This conversation could have happened at our house, except my mother never would have said "seen it" because she's better educated than that, but still ... we did throw a lot of golfballs in there and we did put some holes in the pool that my dad had to patch. Our pool's still there. It's a beauty of an underground pool with a slide and a diving board. And thank God, my nephews and nieces are still playing the TV Game, the Quiet Game (damn, I can't remember what we called it), and of course, Marco Polo. I hope my parents' neighbors are as caressed by the raucous sounds of it as I am.


Nik said...

Happy swimming memories. And Happy Birthday too!

Anonymous said...

Like you Molly I grew up with a swimming pool. Ours was underground, cement lined with lights in the pool, a slide and dive board. I've no idea how many hours we spent in the pool, I guess it is easier to say I have no clue how much time we spent out of the pool. I loved reading about your Marco Polo memories, I know just what you mean about diving over one's head!!!

I can not wait to see you this week....I miss you so very much...