Sunday, August 31, 2014
Public Pools, Private Thoughts by Dan Skinner
Summer is not just about sun, vacations and fun, it is also a season of senses. The Sounds of children playing, crickets at at night, and my favorite of the summer sounds, the ocean hitting the shore. The sight of shirtless guys walking down the street, the purples, pinks and reds of garden flowers people, out of their living rooms, away from their television sets and out on their patio's, decks and front porches.
Then of course come the smells; fresh cut crash, your neighbours BBQ, the sand and ocean. Although not necessarily my favorite, the smell of chlorine is one that cuts deep in my memory and sexual awakening as a kid. Although I grew up around lakes, and fairly close to the ocean, one of my favorite places to take a dip were public swimming pools, one special one in particular. A few miles from my house, about 15 minutes on my bike, was a Yacht Club. Although I did not belong, my friend Jeffrey did, and I spent much my summers through my Jr. High years at the club.
During the day, the swimming pool was open to the public for swims. It was full of children and their parents, some days, when it was really hot, you could not even see water through the haze of heads and bodies. When you swam there during the day, as part of the public swims, there was an old wooden building with changing rooms, specifically for non-club members to use. It was small, not fancy and not a place to hang out in. When you entered, girls went to the right, boys to the left.
There was a small room, not much bigger than a long hallway. At the front, a large shower stall and bathroom. Down the hall, just one long bench with hooks on lockers on either side. At the other end, the doorway to the pool. The goal was to get in, get out and get into the pool. The same went for when you were done. They didn't want people hanging or lurking and you often heard a voice from the front saying, 'hurry up boys' and 'keep moving'.
Trips to public swimming pools can be illuminating for a confused teenager questioning who they are. Guys in bathing suits sure, but also permitted touch, with rough housing, water piggy back, and dunking. There was also bound to be a moment someone pulled a friends speedo up into a wedgie. It was also wise to keep a close eye to the diving board, and people getting in and out of the pool, as hints of butt crack were not uncommon sights to be seen.
There was nothing inappropriate or wrong going on, in fact there was nothing really going on at all. The sights were public, it was way in the way in which those sight, sounds and smells were processed that differed between the people in the pool. The thoughts which ran through my brain during those days at the pool were private, and although I learned to anticipate them, they were not ones I planned, nor could really control.
They were exciting, they were erotic, and most of all, they were completely innocent. They were the same feeling everyone was having, boys about girls, girls about boys, girls about girls and boys about boys. A part of what we all went through as we awakened sexually, matured and grew up. Even today, the smell of chlorine takes me right back to those private thoughts at those public pools.
During the evening, going to the same pool became an entirely different, and maybe a little less innocent an experience. The public was not welcome, it was members only, and thankfully for me Jeffrey love to take a group of us each evening for a swim. When you went at night, that tiny wooden changing room building was locked tight. The attendant not on duty and no life guards to be seen. Instead, you changed in the member area, a large, plush locker room with individual showers, clean bathrooms, long mirrors and armchairs and plants in the corner. This was a place you lingered.
Usually when we arrived, there would be a few swimmer doing laps or a few people, taking a quick dive after a long work day. Most night though, as the evening went on, it was just our group left in the pool. Although you could see houses across the bay, there wasn't really much around so unless there was a function at the club, dusk meant it was just us in the pool. This is when it got really fun.
The fun was still most innocent, boys playing around, but without a life guard, or they eyes of a strict parent on us constantly, back flips were done off the diving board, wresting matches were held and running along the side of the pool became mandatory. Many nights, except the odd night our friend Valerie would accompany us, the suits would often get pulled down and thrown to the sides of the pool.
Without the suits, our bodies morphed from human to water mammal, diving up and back down into the water as if we were dolphins or whales. Any touch was not sexual, at least not on the surface, it was just fun mixed with a little danger and risk. It was exhilarating.
The member locker room was no longer just a place to change and hurry through, it became as important a part of the experience as being in the pool. We often spent an hour or two in the water, then another hour in the changing rooms. Laughing, rough housing, then changing and showering. My first time there, my eyes quickly looked elsewhere when someone was naked. I even left the room for the bathroom the first time. With each visit however, my comfort with being around my friends naked, and being naked myself became comfortable and although I could never really control my thoughts, I was able to mask them in order not to stand out.
It is funny, out of the 7 or 8 guys who came in and out of these evening swims, 2 others came out over the next fifteen years, me being the last of the trio. One moved away and although I have seen him on social media sites, never bothered to reconnect. The other I am still friends with and visit with when he is town during special occasions and holidays. We have had a few conversations about our group, but I have never brought up those evening swims, or times in the locker rooms. I will make a note to do so the next time we meet up.
I flashed back to these memories when first seeing some of these images from Dan Skinner a few years ago, and have even sprinkled a few in previous posts. I love featuring Dan's work, his vibrant imagery always takes me enjoyable places, either from my past, or to fantasy's of possible future adventures. Thanks to Dan for supplying even more Public pool images to stimulate private thoughts as our Summer start to end and segue's into Autumn.