Letters From the Underworld Part II

Another interesting evening...

I get into the pool as a dark-haired/pale-skinned (most likely Eastern European) lad goes in with his mother. I start swimming my laps, as usual. Then a Hispanic 10 walks in, he is a lad I'd actually played with before (he likes to take the giant 5 gallon water bottle into the pool, fill it up, and enjoy getting all five gallons dumped onto his head as quickly/ferociously as possible).

As I round the bend at the shallow end where he's filling the big bottle with some effort (an empty bottle of that size displaces forty pounds don't forget), I give him a little shout "hah! You have your favourite toy again!".

He grins and shouts back "Yeah, I remember YOU!" and proceeds to half-follow me down to the deeper end of the pool. I take a brief rest at the edge of the pool and he starts to just chat with me "I haven't seen you around the last few days." (huh?) I fumble back with a reply about coming to the Underworld for chess and bringing my wife some lunch each night, etc - whereupon almost like on cue, a friend shows up at the staff door with some prospective members on a tour. We wave of course.

The Mexican lifeguard ends up chatting with me, but the hispanicito won't go away. No worries, I reward his patience with a regular dousing when I get the bottle emptied a bit (even for me, lifting 40 pounds of water when I have nothing to brace against, is a bit of a challenge).

When he's not being doused, the thing this boy loves to do best is talk. Talk about the movies he's seen and loved Pan's Labyrinth, The Mask, etc. He has a little female friend (7) who starts to tag along. She tried hard to get words in edgewise - "Hey, I've seen Hollow Man! It was great!" (wow, parents let their kids loose on Paul Verhoeven's violent movies !) I've seen Hollow Man, (and all of Paul V's films for that matter), which is definitely a bit "nasty" (scientist figures out a way to become invisible, and ends up going mad on the power it gives him).

We drift towards the shallow end - the 6.5er Eastern European lad joins us. We're all in a pretty tight circle, with the two boys doing their best to fit paragraphs into a few seconds and the girl trying to "dive in" between the (few) pauses in conversation, with me trying to reply as cogently as possible to the multiple strands going on. "Have you been to Universal? Six Flags? Disneyland? I loved the Star Wars ride! (It's the best motion-simulator ride I've ever seen: it uses the same technology the military uses for immersive flight-sims) Knott's Berry Farm?"

You know the drill. It's the standard startup communications "protocol exchange" between kids. It's funny, though - they exchanged ages - and they didn't think to NOT ask me. Only after I chuckle and remark "ALOT older than you! 40!" they remember that "Oh yeah, you're a grown-up" - (age clearly doesn't matter when you're a grown-up :) -- someone needs to tell the divas in Hollywood that sometime).

A few things come to mind at this point:


1. Kids have it MADE in LA with like 6 or 7 huge amusement parks within easy driving distance. I can still remember the two visits (first time I was 10, the second I was 13) I made to Disney World with fairly brilliant clarity. (They used coupon books of different "classes" of tickets back then - the "E" tickets were for the best rides.)

It was during my first trip that I almost drowned (undertow) swimming in the water just outside of our cabana in Fort Lauderdale, which was right on the beach. A well-tanned strong surfer in his late teens/early 20s walked out to fetch me from where I was treading water. My mother says I was very calm, though I remember being very unnerved by not being able to walk back towards the shore. Afterwards, I fell asleep outside in the sun from the "stress" and got a wicked sun-burn.

For the rest of my time there, I was content to body-surf and dive into the breaking waves in shallow water. I loved the coconut trees all around, was freaked by the palmetto bugs the first time (they're so BIG!).

2. Modern kids get to watch even R movies with relative ease. I'll never forget the bitter argument I had with my mother (I lost of course) in trying to convince her to let me see 'Alien' in the theatre. When I was 15.5, my mother wouldn't take me to see that creature-horror-slime B-movie _Parasite_, but didn't actively try to prevent me from doing so. It was R, and the theatre wouldn't sell us tickets. We finally found a friendly old guy to get them for us.


The girl gets a bit tired of trying to butt-in, so she tries to suggest we play a game with the pool rings. The two lads are like "Hey, we're talking! Maybe later!"

Soon, it gets to 7.50PM about 10 minutes before the pool closes to children (adult lap swim from 8-closing). The older boy relents from his conversation and agrees to a game where they try to collect as many rings as possible on a single breath. The 10 wins easily (he's not only the oldest, but he's an excellent underwater swimmer). The girl comes second, and the little lad comes in last.

The 10 gets out of the pool and gives a nice smile and says how much fun it was. He tells me his name... "Anthony" which I'll endeavour to call him "Antonio" when I next see him.

We've not had much tactile contact, but it seems to be inevitable. He nearly wrapped his legs around my chest, but caught himself when he "remembered" where he was.

Antonio's swimwear isn't as European as Alejandro's, but at least it's not the surfer Board-short bullshit. (They're the "normal" synthetic trunks-kind, which show some thigh.) He's well-made, not as "muscular and sturdy" as Alejandro, but prematurely muscled in his notable thighs and stomach. He has a very classically Mexican colouration and face.

No Alejandro, alas. (Awwwww.)

But it ended up being interesting all the same.


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