Friday, April 11, 2008

Country Club Pool

I have been reading stuffwhitepeoplelike, which is a great introduction to upper middle class Anglo culture in America. Its voice is ironic and humorous. Someone had written in to the posts, suggesting an article on Country Clubs. That gave me an idea and a chance to reflect on life in Paducah, KY, where I spend my youth. As my neighbor Andrew said, life is great from birth to age 8, then it gets really complicated. Here is a story about Country Clubs as an adult who sometimes returns home for visits and swims at the pool at the Club.

When you go to the club as an adult, you will be there to cool off in the summer, to leave your parents and there house for a few hours of peace, and to socialize in an informal way. You can call one of your friends to meet you there, or, you can go in the late afternoon, and probably find someone you know there. It can be a friend from your youth, who is there with her children, for example.

There are quite a few subtexts going on at the club pool for you. First of all, if you are not married, people will be looking for signs that explain that: are you too fat, do you know how to behave? No, yes. Do you hate children (ie do you pay attention to other people's children). No, I don't hate or love them, and all I need to say is how lovely their children are etc and leave it at that. And I don't really want to be around them and their whining.

Then, whom do you talk to? Just your friends from childhood (well, yes)? What do you talk about? You gossip, but be very careful about what you reveal about your personal life, as people are listening for valuable information about your life and its problems. The best thing to do is simply listen as people tell you about their cousin's divorce, their marital tensions (this is a boring topic), their pregnancy, your other friends' face lift, your other friends' affair, how still another friend is just as arrogant as in high school, and so on. You might like to bring a book or magazine to escape this conversation if it is too boring or your conversation partner is asking you too many questions you do not want to answer.

What to read? Don't bring something like "The Great Gatsby" because you will get ... weird ...looks. Bring the local paper or, if you want to look smart and ambitious, The Wall Street Journal.

There are a few types of women at the pool. Usually, men do not go to the pool alone, unless they go to swim laps, in which case, they will come early in the morning, or just as the pool is closing. Men play golf or drink in the clubhouse. They do not swim. It could be the region for women and children in the summer, so they do not see their place there. Perhaps they do not want to be caught looking at teenage girls in bikinis. Perhaps they do not want to have women hitting on them. Perhaps they just don't know what to do with their bodies in water or their bodies in shorts and no shirt and shoes, they don't know what to do with their sexuality there.

So, women at the pool are swimmers or gossips. There is some crossover. I am a swimmer. Gossips do not get wet at the pool. They sit in lounge chairs by the pool and gossip with other gossips about their children and other women. They do not get wet. Their hair is styled and they may be wearing make up. It is hot outside, about 90f, mind you. The life guard watches their children, makes sure they do not drown. These women might not be able to swim, in fact.

Women who swim also gossip, I can not exaggerate. But they do get in the water, to play with their children or to swim with other women. I think these women are cool.

There is another story about men and women and the country club and maybe I will leave that for another time.