You’re not sure this is a good idea. But, guided by your girlfriend Lorrie’s soft hand in yours, you feel your way into the pool area. You know everyone will stare at your bandaged eyes.
The first thing you smell is the chlorine. Pungent. Slightly burning. Almost makes your skin pucker just to be near it.
The background noise is constant: Shouts and screams of children romping in the water and chasing each other on the grass. Teens chattering or gossiping. Adults bragging up their kids or discussing the game. Life-guards shouting. Lawn-mowers running in the distance. A Diesel bus idling before its next run.
Lorrie guides you through the chaise lounges and spread towels. Several different sunscreen flavors. Insect repellent. Hot dog with mustard and onions. Beer in the can and beer on the breath. Supposedly no alcohol at the pool. But as long as it’s camouflaged, no one looks too closely. And people don’t pay attention to what they smell.
Pizza. Salsa, bringing a slight burn to nose and tongue. The toasty aroma of tortilla chips.
The wind brings the exhaust from the Diesel bus. You gag slightly and worry about a headache. But it’s only a slight dose. She lets go your hand at the rest room. Your friend Jack guides you in. You smell the wet sand and concrete. Disinfectant. Urine. Wet towels and bathing suits as people change. A slight whiff of shit. You come out and she takes your hand again.
In front of you, someone’s perfume mixes with the sour smell of a bathing suit not properly rinsed and dried the last time.
Now the symphony of scents from the concession stand. Hot dogs, mustard, onions, and relish again. Pizza again. The deeper flavor of Polish sausage. French fries and catsup. Root beer. Coke. Popcorn—how can anyone resist the smell of popcorn? Memories of making out at movies with Lorrie. You wonder if you’ll ever see a movie again. Elephant ears. Elephant ears at the pool? Since when? Coffee. Hopefully it won’t get spilled on some racing child. Nachos and cheese.
The concession aromas recede. The background sounds change into a commotion. The unmistakable reek of vomit. Too much soda, hot dog and pool water for some poor kid.
She guides you quickly along. Fresh cut grass and lawnmower fumes from outside the fence. Turning into the home stretch. “Want to find a place to sit or shall we go?” Lorrie asks as you near the entrance. You’re not sure. You could be alone somewhere with her. Or maybe she wants to swim. You can almost visualize her in her bikini. It’s what you miss most—actually seeing her. Though walking hand-in-hand with her right now is pretty cool.
“Let’s do one more lap.”