A New Pool for America
I'll be honest with you, most of my daily activities revolve around not getting physically injured. Not because I have some sort of abnormal fear of physical trauma, I just don't have health insurance so I tend to avoid activities that may invite broken ankles or enable a dislocated whatever. Will I go running? Yes. Will I play a game of pickup football? Only if it's touch and I'm all-time QB and we don't use a football and we play sitting down quietly on a sofa reading a book. Will I go bowling? No, but that has nothing to do with physical economics, more to do with personal taste...I'm not wearing those fucking shoes.
Everyone cheers Dad's ambitious plan to bring summer pool parties and a sense of prosperity back to the household.So when I voted for Barack Obama, swiftly and decisively pulling the lever for not only the would-be Commander-in-Chief, but also whatever Democrat was billed with him, I think I had a certain expectation of how the subsequent years would unfold.
The world has not ended; a financial collapse was averted at least provisionally; and on election night in Grant Park, Chicago, where the President Elect gave his victory speech, I was able to purchase a tasteful t-shirt with "MY PRESIDENT IS BLACK" printed across the body of the shirt in power font. The black street vendor I purchased it from fully endorsed the purchase with, "That white boy off the chain!" I thought, "Golly, that African American not only approves of my clothing choice, he believes I am unleashed! Rendered free from the chains of socioeconomic oppression I have embodied for the past 300 years! We're same team! Eureka, what a glorious evening!"
The night ended, the confetti in the streets washed away by the cold and muddy winter sludge that permeates Chicago streets that time of year, and the change I was promised was not the change I had so hopefully envisioned.
I feel a little like President Obama is a dad who comes home one night after a few martinis and tells the family they're getting a pool. Everyone cheers and approves of Dad's ambitious plan to bring summer pool parties, joy, and a sense of prosperity back to a household that had fallen on hard times the previous decade.
Then Dad wakes up the next morning with a roaring hangover, his kids sitting at the foot of his bed hopping up and down saying, "So when do they start to dig the hole!" Dad rubs his eyes. "Oh, uh...fuck me, well...I'll charge it to the card I guess."
I feel like I'm sitting in the kitchen, looking at pool furniture online, staring out at a half-dug hole in the backyard going, "I hope Dad doesn't fuck this up." But I think that's a little more sober-minded than Mom's plan. She's sitting to my right drinking tea saying some crazy shit.
Dad's always been a pool half-full kinda guy.Me: Mom...you okay?
Mom: Your father...I just. We can't afford all of this.
Me: Yeah...it's expensive but...
Mom: We need to sell all the furniture.
Me: Wait, why do we...
Mom: And we can't feed you anymore.
Me: But what does that...
Mom: And no more masturbating...
Me: (gasping) You can't take that away from me it's all I have and-
Mom: You're father isn't even your father! He's a Kenyan and I don't think he lives here!
Me: Wait wait, you're pissed, but if this is about the pool, that's okay, but you're connecting a lot of dots that don't make any fucking sense. You're angry, I get that, but you're being irrational. Now if you calm down maybe we can figure out a way to work together and pay for the pool.
Mom: Fuck him. Fuck you, too...and fuck Jews.
Me: Jesus Christ!
Mom: YES! That's the answer! We're going to go to church!
Me: You blacked out, didn't you? You can't even hear yourself, huh.
Mom: (hands trembling as she sips her tea, staring into the backyard) We will get this house back to how it was. We just need to get rid of this furniture, turn the electric and water off, and we can save our money for 60 years.... Billy, did you know you can drink your own urine?
Me: No...no I didn't.
Mom: It's also an antiseptic. Perfect for flesh wounds.
Me: Why would I have flesh wounds? Holy...where the fuck did you get a gun?
Mom: I need it! I hate pools! I can't swim!
I don't think Dad was trying to be deceptive; I think he wants the pool just as bad as the rest of us. But for the time being, I will sit face pressed against the window and fantasize about the morning when the whole family can run out the back door with pool towels in hand, flip-flops clapping against the newly dried cement, and collectively jumping into the cool, crisp waters of a dream realized...not like I can use the diving board anyway—no fucking health insurance.