If you know me, you have probably never seen me in a pool.
Think about it.
That’s right. Most of my friends have chalked this up to the fact that 98% of my body is covered in scar tissue and I’m probably self-conscious about it. Up until this moment, I have been more than happy to let them believe this lie.
The real reason is much worse. The truth is, when I am in a pool of water, I am unable to stop myself from answering other peoples’ questions.
It is terribly embarrassing. Humiliating, actually.
It wasn’t always like this. When I was 13 years old, I was sniffing around in the attic of my grandmother’s house, looking for stuff to sell on eBay. My Irish grandfather, whom we affectionately referred to as “Steve Johnson”, had worked on the New Haven Railroad way back before the war.
Well, owing to Steve Johnson’s love of whiskey, he found himself passed out in the back of a train headed to Egypt one day and before he knew it, he was working on an excavation of a forgotten pharaoh’s tomb.
Most of the workers were local Egyptians, dirt poor and uneducated. Luckily, Steve Johnson was able to communicate with them through crude sign language and trick them into helping him plunder the riches of their homeland.
Running the show was future president and beloved knickerbocker, Teddy Ruxpin and he instantly took a liking to my grandfather, Steve Johnson. The two of them went on many outrageous adventures and had quite a time, but that is a story for another day.
Anyway, Steve Johnson returned to America, three years later, baring a giant trunk full of treasures. The problem is, there was a war brewing and the antiquities market was severely depreciated at that point in time, so the trunk went in the attic where it was forgotten about for forty years.
So here I am, just barely through puberty, gazing in awe at the boobs on the hieroglyphic Egyptian women when suddenly, my furious masturbating knocks over a copper urn.
Out pops a genie, nearly scaring the shit out of me. I mean, here I am, with my 13 year old dick in my hand, when suddenly, there’s this weird Arab guy in a turban and puffy pants floating right in front of me.
“I am Ali Agribah!” he says, in a boisterous voice, “I am a genie!”
I knew the drill. “Are you going to grant me three wishes?” I asked.
“No!” he said, “You only get one! And I’m going to choose it for you!”
Well, that didn’t sound so great. The genie explained that, in fact, he wasn’t Arab, he was Persian. I pretended to give a rat’s ass and he went on to say that he could “read my mind” and I shouldn’t worry about the wish he was going to grant me because it would be the thing I wanted most in this world.
He put his fingers to his temples and hummed some nonsense words for a few seconds, then proclaimed, “Aha! I’ve got it! Your wish is granted!”
Well, I finally stopped masturbating long enough to ask him what my wish was, but he wouldn’t tell me.
I pulled my pants up and told him I was late for dinner. I never saw that genie again, but for a long time, I assumed he was still up there in that attic.
I forgot about that stupid jerk for a while, several months in fact. It was the winter and I had my career in the Professional Sledding Association to think about. What I knew my wish hadn’t been was success in my sled races, as I had a shitty season and lost my sponsorship from Namco.
Anyway, summer rolled around and I found myself laying out my beach towel on a chair at my local town pool, which was packed. I got in and enjoyed the refreshing coolness of the water on that hot day.
A few feet away, a young woman stood in the water, holding up a baby who sat on the ledge. “Does somebody have to make a poopy?” she asked in a sing-song baby voice.
“No, I just took a big dump a few minutes ago. I didn’t wipe too good because I knew the pool water would wash me off a little.”
The woman stared at me in shock. It took me a few seconds to realize that I had answered her question out loud. What had come over me?
I mumbled an apology and retreated to the other side of the pool. I saw some high school kids engaging in horse play over on the deep end. I recognized one as Steve Johnson (no relation), the star quarterback on the football team. He was canoodling with an attractive blonde I assumed must have been a cheerleader or gym teacher or something.
“You want me to fuck your titties tonight, babe?” he asked her in a hushed whisper, though I was just within ear shot.
“No thanks,” I replied, “oh sure, I’ve had my moments of curiosity, what young boy going through puberty hasn’t? But I think that the line between curiosity and experimentation is one that requires some serious consideration. Besides, my breasts aren’t ample enough for you to simulate intercourse with.”
I couldn’t get myself to shut up.
“What the hell did you say, faggot?” asked Steve Johnson (not my grandfather).
“Uh, just kidding! See ya!” I jumped out of the pool and ran the whole way home. I really had no idea what had come over me. I just assumed I was cracking up.
After that isolated incident, I seemed to be fine. I headed back to the pool to relax a few days later, still unaware of any connection.
It didn’t dawn on me as to what was happening until my principal, who was doing laps, asked a woman how her summer was going and I responded that it was pretty crappy because some Jews moved next door and they were keeping me up all night with their damn Klezmer music.
The pool! It was because I was in the pool! That goddam genie had fucked me over royally. Anytime I went swimming in a pool, I was compelled to truthfully answer other peoples’ questions. If someone asked me a question, I could lie my ass off, but if they were asking a stranger, I couldn’t help but chime in.
I know what you’re thinking and lakes, the ocean, a stream, shit like that, it had no effect on me. UNLESS there was a roped off swimming area. Does this make any fucking sense? Of course not! That genie is just an asshole.
I went back to my grandparent’s house in New Haven, looking for that son of a bitch, but the people who lived there now insisted there was no genie in their attic. My mom’s not sure what we did with all the shit up there, she thinks she gave it to Goodwill when my grandmother died.
The irony of this whole story is that the only reason you are hearing about this right now is because I am typing it out on my new waterproof laptop from the pool at my parent’s clubhouse in Florida.
I have picked up the habit of swimming at night, when no one is around. Well, today I made the mistake of thinking, “Hmm, there’s no one in the pool right now and I need to check my email, what’s the harm in that?” So I jumped right in. Well, I got so involved in updating my Myspace page, I didn’t notice the family of four who joined me while I typed away.
“Does that man have one of those new water-proof laptops I’ve been hearing about on TV?” the mother asked her husband.
“Yes I do and you can’t use it, I don’t want you getting chocolate or biscuit grease all over the keys,” I answered, frozen, realizing the terrible predicament I found myself in.
As I closed my laptop and swam for the ladder, I prayed to Jesus that they would ask me directly, but of course they didn’t. People in this country are so passive-aggressive. Perhaps I should only go swimming in England?
“What makes him think he has the right to mouth off to me like that?” The woman asked the man.
And that is how I came to write this story.