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Observations from the shallow end of the gene pool

Now that summer is upon us, I'm wondering: are public swimming pools really such a good idea? Perhaps it's a concept that needs to be reconsidered, like allowing Florida to hold elections.

A couple of weeks ago, when the air was still too cool for outside swimming, my wife and I took our boys to a large indoor pool not far from home. This has been one of their favorite places since they were old enough to sit in the shallow end and create warm spots.

Why they like it so much, I'm not sure. Maybe they enjoy being trapped in an area slightly smaller than a middle school gymnasium with 300 screaming children, waiting 15 minutes for a six-second turn on the slide, and eating soggy sandwiches while wedged in among 27 other miserable families.

Me, I'm not sold.

Fortunately, the day was not a total waste. I did enjoy being with my kids, and I recorded a number of interesting observations that have allowed me to write this amusing column.

The first thing I noticed, and which I mention in all kindness, is that most people should not wear bathing suits in public. By "most," I mean the vast majority of people - or in other words, the majority of people, who are vast.

I also have serious questions about the swimsuit styles some of the adults chose. I should note here that the long shorts now fashionable for men have truly been a blessing to society, since few things are less appealing than some 38-year-old insurance salesman's pale, hairy thighs. Now if the swimsuit only covered his paunch as well.

What really surprised me - and shouldn't have, I know - were the suits the grown women wore. You'd think some soccer mom in her mid-30s, who's given birth multiple times and isn't exactly a regular at the gym, might think twice before donning a string bikini.

Apparently not.

On the other hand, the fact that so much skin was visible allowed me to make another keen observation: far more people have tattoos than really ought to have them. Do you suppose some of those same soccer moms, with barbed-wire bands etched into their ankles or butterflies adorning their shoulders, ever ask themselves, "What was I thinking?"

Yeah, sure they do. At the same time they're saying to themselves, "Maybe I'll go for a nice one-piece with built-in tummy control."

After a couple of hours, as I stood in the shallow end watching my kids play and taking note of objectionable fashion trends, I suddenly realized how warm the water felt. At the exact same moment, it dawned on me how many of the children cavorting in that part of the pool were the same age as my kids when we first started taking them.

Somebody please tell me that's a coincidence.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.