Column: Pool openings signify start of summer

Something important happened Monday. Something great. Something awesome. Something, dare I say, waterrific.

Yes, on wonderful Monday, the area public swimming pools finally opened after a seemingly century-long snow-filled break.

And like the great Etta James once sang, “At last!”

It’s a well-known fact that swimming pools and summer go together like the Cubs and “M*A*S*H.”

I used to spend almost every day in a pool during the summer. Even now, if I have a free day, there’s a good chance you’ll find me in water. I just love the stuff. Go H20! Go!

I especially loved the water-themed parks like Sea World, one of the few places in the world where getting splashed with orca water is a fun thing to do.

We went to Sea World in Orlando every summer before I became a reckless teenager who was too cool to be seen looking at plankton with his parents. And I was always terrified I’d be the kid picked to ride Shamu and that the killer whale would mistake me for a long, skinny fish and eat me — or that he’d suddenly decide to dive underwater, taking me to my aquarium grave.

No thank you.

So I stuck to the local mall’s mechanical killer whale that lived on quarters rather than fish and small children.

Speaking of watery fears, I was also afraid that sharks lived in pools — that somehow a shark went from the majestic ocean and through 1,000 miles of sewer to my pool in Evansville, Ind., just so it could eat me. It could happen. Sharks are tenacious.

And let’s not even mention the drain. Ever since I saw a “Rescue 911” episode when I was 10 in which a kid got his entire arm stuck in a drain, I haven’t gone near one of the wretched things. If we were playing the quarter game and one of my uncles tossed a quarter and it landed anywhere near the drain, that quarter stayed near the drain.

Not that a quarter wasn’t important. It most certainly was. It could feed the mechanical orca. But it wasn’t worth an appearance on “Rescue 911.” If there was one thing that scared me more than killer whales, sharks, drains, etc., it was doctors. And most of the kids who ended up on “Rescue 911” had to see a doctor.

Yet, with all the horrible things that can go wrong, I still love water. I even like just walking along the edge of a pool with my feet skimming the surface.

Sometimes as we get older we forget the simple pleasure of being in water.

Maybe this pleasure stems from caveman times when an escape into water could prevent Mo the Caveman from being eaten by a fanged woolly mammoth. Or maybe it’s because we’re made mostly of water. Whatever the reason, immersing oneself into a pool is simply one of the greatest joys in life.

And those glorious sources of greatest joy, swimming pools, are once again open.

At last!

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