Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Incident

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I took my children to our city's public pool this week, and we hadn't been there five minutes when all the lifeguards blew their whistles and an announcement came over the intercom. "Swimmers, there has been an incident in the pool. We are now cleaning up the incident. When the incident is clear, you may resume swimming." We all watched as the lifeguard with the long pole and a net attached to it, sauntered over to one side, and scooped out the "incident." The crowd all let out a horrified, "ewwww," as it was ceremoniously carried off. Then we had to wait while the water was "sanitized" again, listening to that same intercom announcement every five minutes. After hearing the word "incident" about a thousand times, my three year old (who's been potty training) asked me, "mommy, what's an incident?" I explained to him what had happened and he wrinkled his nose and said, "don't they know that incidents go in the potty?" (Smart kid!)

We waited the requisite half an hour, watching a lot of people leave, before we got back into the pool. There were a lot of teenagers there, and it was very interesting to watch them. There's this little ritual where the girls get up and walk around the edge of the pool in pairs, waving to the boys in the pool. Soon the boys get out of the pool and follow the giggling girls. When the girls get back to their starting point, they sit down on their towels and watch the boys pass by. I believe in Jane Austen's time this was called "promenading, taking a turn, or strolling," and it was interesting to me how timeless this practice seems. They didn't seem to pair off, but you could definitely tell which girl wanted which boy's attention. I also finally realized the significance to the term "hanging out at the pool."

Not long after the first "incident" I noticed a group of teenage girls huddled around their towels, and they kept looking at one lifeguard. Now this wouldn't have been out of the ordinary necessarily, but the way they were doing it caught my attention. Or, maybe it's because I have a suspicious mind, being an LDS suspense writer and all, and they looked, well, suspicious. I watched them for a while, huddling together to whisper, then looking back at the lifeguard. This went on for quite some time, but my attention was called away from them to watch one of my kids do an underwater handstand.

By the time I looked back, the huddle was gone and the lifeguards were all blowing their whistles for everyone to get out of the pool. "Swimmers," came the insistent drone of the intercom. "There has been an incident in the pool. We are now cleaning up the incident. When the incident is clear, you may resume swimming." (I can now recite that announcement in my sleep I heard it so often that day.) Out came the long pole with a net on the end, having been cleaned from the previous "incident." The lifeguard strolled past all the waiting swimmers on the deck, and this time when he scooped the net into the water, he brought forth a large, obvious "incident." A ripple of "eww" went through the crowd as people held their noses and stepped back, creating a path for the pole and the lifeguard. (I would hate to be the lifeguard who has to take care of all the "incidents." It's bad enough when you're potty training and it's your own kid!) My stomach was rolling as the lifeguard passed by me, and I was trying to convince my children that we should go home (and never return), when I noticed the young women who had been huddled on their towels earlier, practically rolling on the ground with laughter. My suspicious little mind at first thought that perhaps they had done the "incident" or paid someone to do the "incident." (*Gasp,* would young women do that?) I didn't have much time to dwell on it, though, because I had successfully convinced my children it was time to leave. Before we could gather our stuff, the whistles signaling it was safe to go back into the pool blew a mere five minutes after the "incident" had been cleared. The girls were craftier than I had given them credit for. The "incident" had in fact, been a Baby Ruth chocolate bar. Clever.

We still left, but it taught me a lesson, that every incident may not be what it seems. Some incidents take longer to clean up than others and even when your life may be safe and incident- free you can never be sure when the next incident will happen. Incidentally, does anyone know how much a home pool would cost to install?


At 6/15/2006 1:37 PM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

Yeah, but who is going to be the sucker to poke the incident, to see if it is a real incident, or only an incident looking chocolate bar?


At 6/15/2006 1:55 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Not me. Ick! I'll always be the one to err on the side of caution!

At 6/15/2006 8:39 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Okay, I am now "cured" of eating Baby Ruth bars for the rest of my life! My other downfall is powdered sugar donuts. Do you know any icky stories about them? I might be able to stay on a diet forever.

At 6/15/2006 11:21 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Kerry, I have just the solution for you! Just wear all black clothes, for the rest of your life, then you'll stay away from powdered sugar donuts. Of course a lot of people might wonder if you've turned to the dark side or something, but you'll be skinny!


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