The Every Other Daily Corona: Public Cess Pools

With the reopening of fishing and golfing, I wonder when or if they’ll open up public pools again.  Sadly, for some, I can guess it won’t be anytime soon.  As a child without a pool at our house, we’d frequent these pools regularly during the summertime pissing season.  I wasn’t a huge fan.  Having two public piss stations in our neighborhood, neither of them were too pleasing for me, but wherever my brothers went, well, I was their shadow.

Thinking back, sans the deaths, I would have welcomed the Corona Virus.  With the exception of one pool out of our neighborhood, I always thought of them as a possible death sentence amongst other unnatural disasters.  Having few friends my own age, I glommed on to my brothers and their friends.   They were all four to six years older, and took pretty good care of me, but there were countless times when they may not be present, thus fearing for my life and clothing.  This was after my brother, Greg, witnessed his bicycle being stolen five feet from the fence barricading him between the thief and himself.  Helplessly, he watched his bike and its new owner, bolt cutters in hand, laugh himself off into the distance.

Once, heading nearby to the same Mission Pool just on the next block past the corner of Mischief and Theft St.,  I proudly rode my bike to the pool in my brand new sneakers.  After some swimming and diving into the blue/yellow liquid, making it green, I left after about an hour to find my shoes missing from the locker I had placed them.  Clearly stolen, with no “witnesses”, or confirmed suspects, (all the deviant a-hole thieves working the locker room) holding back the tears, I rode home in my bare feet.  Walking into our house, leaving a bloody trail from the bottoms of my feet, my mother asked where my new shoes were.  It broke my heart to tell her they’d been stolen.  It was the first pair of really nice shoes she’d ever purchased me.  My very own.  No hand me downs.  Tom, my brother, four years older than me, knew some sleaze bag was prancing around with my shoes showing them off to his derelict family.  He saw red.  Enraged, Tom jumped on his ten speed, recklessly riding to the pool hoping to find the culprit.   With a different pair of shoes, I trailed him by a few lengths witnessing, to no avail, him busting into the locker room without asking for permission.  Tom was only around fifteen at the time, but as a varsity wrestler, he could lick most eighteen year olds in the valley.  Although scaring the hell out of each employee, he was forced to leave by adult personnel.  They were ready to call the fuzz.  Knowing nothing good happens when cops enter a scene, he decided to leave without finding my shoes.  If my brother, Greg, or the rest of our neighborhood gang had heard the news, they would have been right there with him.  I never saw those shoes again, but they did lose my business.

On the other side of the valley was an even more sinister pool. This was Park Piss Pool.  It was a piss dispensary.  If the county could have figured out a way to fabricate fuel with this daily yellow mess, the world would be a far more efficient place.  Gallons and gallons of urinary grime and disgust.  However, it wasn’t the contents of the pool I despised the most.  It was a boy, or perhaps man, who was most definitely mentally disturbed and just flat out mean.  He scared any guts I may have had right out of me and countless others.  While trying to drown me or any other child not practicing social distancing with him, he was a menace.  I’m betting he was in his mid twenties.  His name was Glenn B.  He was also unfavorably known as The Park Penis.  Before throwing him out for several counts of attempted murder by drowning, the pencil necked lifeguards would allow us to witness his grand finale.  Looking like a six foot tall bowling pin, he’d make it safely to the diving board, pull down his bathing suit and piss into the deep and now deeper end of the pool.  Then, he’d further amuse himself by doing a whopper of a belly flop directly into the strategic area of his urine, thus creating a tidal wave of yellow terror.   Children would be screaming while pushing each other right and left with fright trying to find a tsunami safety zone.  It was chaos. Before paying to get into the pool area, I’d refuse when I saw he was present. He’d be there most of the time.  I’d stay on the monkey bars most of the time. While utterly baffling to me, they didn’t present him a lifetime ban for his ungentlemanly antics.

My father hated these stories, so on several occasions, weekends only, he’d take us to another public pool on the other side of town……..the West Side.  It was here he introduced us to another world all together.  Since our side of town was predominately white, we hadn’t really interacted with people of color, usually just cheering for them to race for the goal line on Saturdays or Sundays.  Sure, we had a couple of hispanics in our neighborhood gatherings, in fact they were welcomed as a part of our group, but other than that, it was mostly Irish, Italian, German and British white trash.  When we entered the West Side pool, we were outnumbered by blacks.  There was a little staring on both sides, but I never felt anything but welcomed, and not one ounce of threat or violence. I liked this pool far better than the ones in our neighborhood.  Years later, I gave praise to our father helping us not only acknowledge diversity, but embrace it.  It was deliberate. So, I guess sometimes you have to experience ugliness before finding the right pool.  It’s out there.  Just please don’t cough, sneeze, or most vehemently, piss on me when you find it.

***Following the publication of this blog, I was quickly contacted by an actual member of our Spokane Valley community who was disturbed with a memory this blog dragged out of his wet heart which he hoped to be dead and buried.  He had his own tale of Glenn B., A.KA. “The Park Penis”.   Jeremy S. writes, “I’ll never forget him.  He Kicked the living s–t out of me when I was at Park Pool.  I might’ve been in fifth grade.  I don’t remember what I said to him, but it had something to do with him bugging my younger brother, Andrew.  He held me under water and punched me multiple times.  It was frightening!  I remember the lifeguards pulling him off me.  The dude must have been 35 years old at the time of the beat down.  I crawled out of that pool bawling.”

***Yet another Glenn B. story from my brother, Tom.  He writes, “I will never forget that dude.  He would walk up and down the line of everyone waiting to get into the pool and terrorize them.  Shirtless with only tight shorts and cowboy boots, my friends, Joe and Ryan were waiting in line one day and Glenn slapped Joe and Ryan started crying.  True story.  He was a terror for sure.  He also circumnavigated the neighborhood on his custom built low rider Schwinn bike with fake throttle handle grips and long plastic pom pom strings beneath.”

Oh, the wonderful 80’s.


The Canned Goods

Showing up with a different stolen bike once a week, I remember one of my former students fondly.  After stealing the bikes, I’d catch him and provide a required lecture.  Following my half ass lecture, he always promised to return the bike to his or her proper owner, only to leave with a different bike.  For some odd reason, I couldn’t help but laugh and love this poor soul.  He would actually return the wrong bicycle to someone he had formerly stolen it from the day before.  And, the returned bicycle was usually more expensive than the one he had stolen.

Rarely turning in any assignments, Joe did show up every day on time. He was also kind and respectful to all the other students in our class. Giving him credit for that, I was just glad he didn’t know how to hot wire a Harley.

When Joe graduated from middle school, he would commonly stop by my classroom which had a glass window separating the school from the playground.  Joe was never allowed to enter the school.  He wasn’t dangerous.  Joe was just an affable thief.  I actually trusted him, and he trusted me.  If I left my wallet on the desk filled with a few hundred dollar bills in it, he would leave it alone.  If I were to ride my bike to school, he would have taken it to a gas station, filled up the tires and returned it peacefully.  That’s just the way he traveled, or pedaled.

As a kind and unusual gesture, Joe once tried to convince me that he and his mother baked me cookies.  They were Oreos.  I accepted them with grace, and made certain my other students wouldn’t say a word about his thoughtful offering.

Annually, when Joe was still trying to pass the seventh grade, our school would try to generate food for those in need. Nobody in my class needed food more than Joe. His stolen bikes weighed more than him.  Our canned food drive became a competition amongst the teachers, and Joe made certain we were going to win.  All of the canned food he received the year before our can drive, he delivered to our class in a wheel barrel, probably stolen.  He became the charitable rock star of our class, and we couldn’t help but love him.  We won because of Joe and his sincere generosity.  Pizza was on me that afternoon, but the class all knew who actually provided it.

Seuss, Capone, and The Babe

The other evening, I was ridiculed by my wife for reading a takeout menu in bed just before the we turned the lights off.  Laughing, she inquired, “Did your parents read menus to you at bedtime when you were a child?”  Even though the options on this Asian menu were fascinating to me, admittedly, it probably looked a little silly.  It did make me think about what they read to me at those impressionable ages.  The stories certainly varied depending on the parent.

Most people believe reading to their children before bedtime is a key ingredient to their development.  Even without having human children of our own, I tend to agree with that philosophy. Yet, it’s not just the reading, it’s that precious one on one attention you may  receive before actually having sweet dreams or selective nightmares.

My mother would fall asleep reading me two pages of a Dr. Seuss book or two sentences of a Sesame Street novella.  I watched her eyes droop while trying her best to complete a rhyme or reason.  Who could blame her?  She was awake at four o’clock in the morning doing laundry in the basement for eight to ten of her children, still remaining in the home, before they went to school.

When my mother drifted off while reading, I would creep into my father’s bedroom many nights hoping he would read to me. (At this point in their lives, my parents slept separately, because thirteen children were plenty.)  After he worked his twelve hour shift, I knew he’d be in bed reading something to relieve his stress.  It was never about a cat in a hat or Oscar being a grouch, and I didn’t care.  With him working such long hours, it was the only time to be next to my father.  My father’s bedtime reading was a little different from what my mom would choose to read to me.   He would be reading about, amongst others, Al Capone or Babe Ruth, two of the most infamous and famous people in the world.

After my well received interruption, my father would proceed to read as I cuddled next to him.  He would also delicately paraphrase…  “And then, prohibition began and while men were massacred on Valentine’s Day, Capone never harmed any women or children.”  Or, when speaking of The Babe, he might say, “Although he was known for his womanizing, immense drinking and voracious appetite for everything, he would sign autographs for any child wishing to receive one.”  Stressing the positive rather than the negative, it made me feel at ease, wishing to take a trip to baseball’s Hall of Fame, followed by a journey through Alcatraz.

Depending on which book they held while reading to me, I would either fall asleep to dreams of calling my own home run shot, bipedal cats with gigantic hats, or nightmares of a Valentine’s Day massacre.  These days, I simply wake up hungry.