Tuesday, July 7, 2015


The boys and I went to see the new Pixar movie “Inside Out,” which anthropomorphizes a little girl’s emotions: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Sadness and Anger.

After the movie, Luca said, “Dad, you only have two guys in your brain. Joy and Anger.”

I told him those are the only two emotions available to me after going to the Skokie pool.

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again. When the fattest, tattooest people (myself included) north of the city descend on the famous Oakland Avenue petri dish. You know you are at an amazing pool when there is a sign at the entrance imploring patrons to wear suitable swimwear. Lace, peekaboo bras do not count.

I like to pretend that I’m a north shore liberal fancy pants. But I grew up fishing for minnows in filthy creek beds (it’s pronounced “crick”). The Skokie pool is only slightly dirtier than those creek beds, so I feel a real sense of nostalgia whenever I’m there.

Elijah and Luca love it. Partly because of the giant red bucket that dumps dangerous amounts of water onto their heads. But partly because of the Lord of the Flies-esc mayhem around the waterslides. The lifeguards gave up on trying to establish order a long time ago. So you enter the water slide area at your own risk. You are lucky if you only get shoved and punched on your way to the slide mouth.

I would stand at the bottom of the slide, anxiously waiting to hear what kind of violence befell my boys up top.

They would breathlessly tell me tails of de-pantsings, hair pulling and eye gouging. I would then instruct the boys in the ancient art of passive aggressive battle. “Just look them in the eye and say, ‘My dad is going to beat you up. He’s a Chicago Bear’” But don’t actually point me out.

On one such occasion, Luca told me he got kicked hard on the way down. I told him to look the kid in the eye and shout, “Back Off!” as loud as he can. And then say his dad is going to beat him up.

Luca said, “It wasn’t a kid. It was that dad.”

Luca pointed to an ancient, wrinkly old man from an indeterminate Soviet Bloc country.  He waddled nearby in saggy red shorts. Luca looked at me, expecting action.

I knelt down and said, “He’s so close to death, let’s not push him over the edge here.” Luca shrugged and scampered up the stairs to enter the fray again.


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