In what is starting to become a regular feature of this blog, here is the latest installment of “Dumb Things I’ve Done”
This being my first summer as a pool owner, I decided to call in the experts to help me open it, namely Cousin Tony and my nephew Robert, who kindly gave up what could have been their last hours on Earth (what with the supposed Rapture and all) to assist me.
And I use the term assist very loosely, as they did all the work while I fetched things and kept them in Diet Cokes and beer. I did help pull off the cover, but I was the only one cringing at both the swampy look of the pool and the hundreds of crickets that came swarming out of it. The real men just took it all in stride and got to work: Tony focused on the pool stuff, while Robert took care of the filter. Seeing them both so busy, and feeling a bit emasculated by my cowering at the crickets, I decided I would take on the job of draining out the excess water left behind from all the snow and rain we got. Armed only with a hose and a nicely sloping yard, I was able to get a siphon going in no time. Feeling proud of myself, I went over to see what else I could help with.
Robert told me to start brushing off the algae covered sides, but Cousin Tony interrupted and raced off to his car, returning with a present: a cool robot vacuum thingy that looked a bit like Wall-E from the Pixar movie. So Robert showed me how to work the robot instead. He explained how the cloth bag that came with it would quickly clog due to all the gunk in the pool, and recommended I buy some disposable bags for the initial clean-up, that way I could just toss them out instead of hosing off the cloth one, which he said could get pretty gross. But after hearing they were fifteen bucks each, I decided washing the reusable one wasn’t that big a deal. I mean, how gross could it be?
So we dumped Wall-E in the pool and watched in admiration as he quickly set out cleaning the bottom, leaving a clean white track behind as he scoured the pool floor. “You’ll probably have to clean the bag in like an hour,” Robert said, noting how grimy the walls and floor were. “It won’t work if it’s all clogged up and full.”
I nodded and thanked them for their help, offering Robert another beer and promising Cousin Tony that I’d send him a check for the robot. Then I went in the house to wash up and check on Eli.
An hour later I dutifully went to clean the robot’s bag – and that’s when I learned just how gross it could be! No one warned me about the worms! Hundreds of them, wriggling in the fetid slime. I plugged my nose and nearly lost my lunch as I hosed it off, wincing each time the water splashed back at me. Suddenly those $15 bags didn’t sound so bad, as there was no way in hell I was dealing with this again. So I went inside to fetch Eli and headed off to the pool supply store.
An hour, and $45 later, we returned. And that’s when I noticed that the wonderful siphon I had created was still running! I had forgotten to pull out the hose, and after three hours of draining, the pool level was now well below the skimmers, the back yard was flooded, and the filter was close to burning out.
And to make matters worse, we have a well, so I couldn’t just turn the hose on and start refilling without risking running it dry. So I spent the next 8 hours carefully monitoring the water level, hoping to get the pool back to where it was supposed to be (“Two inches above the lowest skimmer” according to Robert) without emptying my well.
It was pretty dark the last time I went to check, so I had to lie on my belly and reach into the pool to feel with my hands to see how far the water had come up – and that’s when it happened.
Something leaped out of the water and tried to attack me!
I screamed like a girl as I scrambled to my feet, jumping back a safe distance from whatever “it” was. Alligator? Beaver? Giant Worm?
It was just Wall-E. No one told me the thing could climb walls! And if they did, I forgot about it during the whole emptying of the pool fiasco. Regardless, that little robot scared the hell out of me as it appeared from the murky water mere inches from my face.
Trying to save face, I slowly walked back to the house while rapidly considering what possible explanation I could give for my screaming, but luckily my wife was busy giving the baby a bath (most likely in the last of our well water) and didn’t hear anything.
Grateful for small mercies, I flopped on the couch and turned on the TV to make sure no one actually got raptured. But aside from a volcano erupting in Iceland, and the Mets getting killed by the Yankees, it appeared all was well in the world. No earthquakes. No fire in the sky. No plague of locusts…well, come to think of it, there were those crickets. And I did flood the backyard. And let’s not forget that horrible scream. Maybe that Harold Camping guy wasn’t crazy after all. He had most of the facts right, his scale was just a little off.