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It’s public pool season, Tampa Bay. Is that a Band-Aid?
In praise of community swimming holes.
In praise of chaotic, happy community pool scenes, like this one at Northwest Pool in St. Petersburg.
In praise of chaotic, happy community pool scenes, like this one at Northwest Pool in St. Petersburg. [ Times (2017) ]
Published May 18|Updated May 18

In these chaotic potato salad days, it’s hard to find a single destination where everyone has something in common. Our differences rule online, at Home Depot, at sports arenas where a lone Toronto Maple Leafs fan has slipped in and forgotten to go home.

One place exists, though, a holy ground where everyone is in the same, uh, boat. Well, we’re out of the boat. We’re in the water, actually. Everyone is taking a big, warm bath together, which is upsetting when you think about it too much.

It’s the community pool; wet, crowded, refreshing and miserable all at once. Tampa Bay is brimming with beloved municipal watering holes, from the Roy E. Jenkins Pool in Tampa to the Childs Park Pool in St. Petersburg to the Skyview Pool in Pinellas Park, and on and on. They run over with people who simply don’t have pools at home. That’s it. That’s the thing we have in common.

Related: Tampa Bay splash pads, public pools offer cheap ways to cool off

Not having a pool is why my family visited the Highlander Pool in Dunedin this weekend. If I had $60,000 lying around, I would have rolled into the backyard like a manatee with a tumbler of rosé mixed with Sprite, rolling, rolling, rolling until my face hit water. Alas, no pool! So we loaded up half the contents of the house as if embarking on an archeological dig, paid $3 a person and slumped to the concrete fun pad.

Visiting clean and safe public pools staffed with impossibly cool and fit teenage lifeguards is a reminder that our society is still functioning, at least a bit. You know? Like we still have shared spaces where everyone chips in to reap the benefits, even if it means looking at strange body hair and having passive-aggressive stare downs over picnic tables in the shade. These pools signify civility and deserve praise.

In honor of community pool season, I would like to perform a beat poem based on things overheard at the pool last weekend. It’s titled: MARCO. Please, if you could snap along. A one and a two and...

MARCO

POLO

whistle

No running!

POLO

I SAID POLO

I know you like talking to Blake, but it’s time to clean up.

You need to get out. You need to take a ten minute break. No, I said get out. No, not “hold on.” Dry yourself off. Come on. Put some effort in. The sunscreen has to actually stick to… Oh, for the love of… just give me the towel.

*whispers* polo

That’s cheating. You cheated. Mom, she cheated. She cheated, Mom. Mom, she cheated.

Is that a… oh, no, it’s a Band-Aid.

MARCO

double whistle

No jumping!

We have to go. No, not in five minutes. Now. OK, in five minutes.

The kids are going to sleep well tonight!

Oh, are they? Do you want to take them?

triple whistle

No cannonballs!

Is that… a wet potato chip? What is that? Leave it. Don’t touch.

We’ve got to get a pool. How much it would cost to… Oh, wow, really? No, this pool is fine.

MARCO. MARCO. MARCO?

polo. polo. polo.

Related: This summer in Florida, beware the Wet Families
Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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