Sunday, June 1, 2008

Coworkers: Part 27 - Swimming Lessons

   Late August. Summer scorch was ending, so was the current crew. Within weeks, Summer temp help and two long timers were moving on. Michaela, Stephanie, Little E, Panama, Gilda. Most, we would never see again. We knew that. Life's Parade was introductions and farewells. A farewell bash was suggested. Little E offered her parents' house. That one weekend when they were out of town seemed particularly promising.
   Best of all, there was a swimming pool.
   Private home, private swimming pool.
   No one ever mentioned the Playboy Mansion. And yet ... The siren song of the iconic pool soiree. Lush swimming pond, waterfalls, bamboo thickets. Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, lounge music. Sophisticated ... with the Texas twist. Special guests, Dallas Cowboys and Cowboy Cheerleaders.
   Too bad. Could have been. If only. Too late now.

   Fools who organized this should have been certified. Greatest idea, my ass.
   Everyone had fun. At least those who didn't throw up.
   Or those who didn't go blind, or those who wished they had.
   Oh, silly me, that left everyone out.
   Still, it was educational. A tutorial on what NOT to do next time.
   Because there would always be a next time.

   OK. What should NOT have been done.
   1) Volleyball. Water volleyball.
   Volleyball turned into water fight. Not just the guys, either. Girls got insanely competitive, old grudges surfaced. Underwater pushing, and slapping water into open mouths proved irresistible.
   2) Cannonball. Never appropriate. The biggest guy (ahem, Bert) launched himself after the ubiquitous, "Hey, watch this." With each six pack, he surfaced slower and slower. He had already pissed everyone off. If he thought friends would rescue his whiny, "Hep ... glug, glug ... hep," he was profoundly mistaken.
   Cannonballers, jump at your own risk. You get in trouble, friends will place bets.
   Special tip, that jump doesn't attract the babes.
   3) Booze. Don't drink near pools. Say what? Don't drink, period. Huh? Stupid rule. Skip Rule #3.
   4) Booze, Part 2. Getting girls drunk.
   Trina brought the new girl, Missy. Dallas transfer. Robster cruised over with drinks. Usually after a handful of shots, Rob would be steady while females tumbled down the rabbit hole. That night, he would discover Missy possessed hollow legs. Alcohol had no impact on her. The following morning, Rob would swear off booze ... for the umpteenth time.
   5) Toupee. Guys, don't jump in the pool and assume the rug will stay in place. Too many buddies, male and female, will ensure it doesn't.
   6) Food. Do you eat in your own bathtub? How about when you take a shower? Nice beefy burrito? Of course not. Still, guys waded across the shallow end, biting that hotdog or burger. Bits of bun or wiener plopped into the water, then bobbed up and down. Chips floated, candy bars sank.
   The amount of debris in the pool increased through the night, exacerbated by Rule #3. Behavior also ... well ...
   7) Chewing tobacco. Two guys had a serious problem with nicotine addiction. A future of jaw cancer beckoned, and youthful handsome looks would vanish with that lower mandible. Bozos were know-it-alls, and immortal. Anyway, they splashed about, innocuous beer bottle in their hand, slurping into it every 30 seconds. Filling the bottle with brown spit. When they played volleyball, they set the bottle adrift, bobbing up and down, listing side to side. Brown spit. Message in the bottle to The Boss. Please, quit hiring chewers.
   Ah, yes, the bottles did capsize.
   Brown in the pool. Luckily it was dark already.
   With darkness, bad behavior intensified.
   8) Pool pole. You know, the surface skimmer? Shoulda been hidden in the attic. Two of the gents took turns placing the net end over a paddler's head and shoving them under. Lot of frantic excitement below the surface. Gee, couldn't swimmers take a joke? For crissakes.
   Then Bert seized hold of the pool pole and began playing shark attack. Bert was royally drunk, and, without his glasses, legally blind. He wielded the pole underwater, like Aquaman with a lance. Shark attack was defined as ramming the pole up someone's ass. Bert, as always, was too strong. Humans blasted from the water like porpoises. Girls turned from Flipper to savage.
   Little E finally confiscated the pool pole. Bert tried to apologize to everyone. No one told him where his glasses were.
   Stellar moment when he cried to the Golden Retriever.
   In case you assumed only boys misbehaved, then you assumed wrong, grasshopper.
   9) Sunburned Alert. Hot Summer night. Reefer and all that water diminished inhibitions and expectations. The everyday, workplace, no-contact rule was suspended just this once. The unnamed male was recovering from a sunburn, however. And all that water had loosened ... the layer of dead skin. Cannabis often led to compulsive, then obsessive, behavior. The just this once female partner began peeling off strips of skin. Her thighs locked his waist. Because she was stoned, because it was too funny, because she couldn't stop herself, because she didn't realize several bystanders had aimed camcorders.
   10) No means NO! Booze or no booze. No matter how beautiful she looked tonight.
  There had been inappropriate contact in the pool. The basic rule of don't grab me when I say no had been violated. Repeatedly. One of the guys, of course. A bit hammered and not one of the best swimmers. Several girls were part seal, part water polo star. They out maneuvered and out wrestled the stuttering buffoon, dunking him and upending him easily. Then they swiped his trunks, climbed out of the pool, and pitched them in the fire.
   Plaintive cries of, "Help me," or "C'mon, it's not funny anymore," or "Hey, I'm freezing in here." were ignored by all.
   11) Nudity clause. I should say no more. Everyone knew the equation. Naked + coworkers = blindness or nausea.
   There was duct tape in the house. There was rope, there was electrical wire. Someone should have noticed Dan and screamed warning. He could have been restrained. If necessary, hog tied. Reference duct tape.
   Instead, Dan took off his clothes.
   Other communities have laws. Enacted for good reason. To protect everyone from seeing Dan naked.
   From seeing everyone else who joined him.
   12) Fights. All things pass away, and even fun times have their endings.
   Near the grass, an argument between Pepe and Lisa had escalated. Lisa kept trying to coerce Pepe into the pool. Pepe could not swim. Finally, Lisa simply grabbed hold of her and pitched her in.
   Pepe sank like a stone.
   After being rescued, Pepe was ready to fight, even while she coughed and spat out water. Even though Lisa was twice her size. Pepe was drunk and furious, and rushed her. Coworkers had to pry them apart.
   Pepe tore away in her car, sopping wet. She was still wet by the time she returned home. Her mother went ballistic after hearing the story and phoned the cops.
   Two prowl cars investigated, party goers dispersed or staggered away into the dark.
   Not before one or two heaved into the pool. Party vomit became a running gag for weeks.

   Confession, I dodged that gala. In my youth, I had an embarrassing, sorry history of party stupidity. Ever since leaving Los Angeles, I shunned revelry.
   Consequently, I was one of the few coherent employees the next morning when a CEMA contest was posted in the store. The store that played the new Blur album the most, and phoned in with it playing in the background, would win the contest.
   Huge cash prize attached. $300.00 to the winning store.
   We could win this. Three of us devised and implemented the perfect strategy before sobriety returned to colleagues, and they voiced objections or their own notions.
   The Blur CD was permanently placed in the combo player.
   Every time an album finished, Blur fired up. And we phoned.
   And phoned, and phoned, and phoned.
   And won.
   By a landslide.
   Three hundred dollars.
   For what?
   Another party, you fool.
   The Blur Party.
   At Pat's Shack.
   Details, next week.

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